Watching last night’s Rangers loss to the Islanders, I think most people were thinking the same thing: Coach John Tortorella seems to have lost the team.
Larry Brooks won’t rule it out, but doesn’t think it’s very likely.
I’m pretty patient with coaches. I don’t think it’s fair to fire someone after just a season or so, since it can take years to truly change a team. But whatever Tortorella’s doing in New York isn’t working. They’ve lost their attacking style that brought them early season success, while somehow not transitioning into a defensive system. So the Rangers have managed to lose the offense while not picking up any defense. It’s pretty impressive, if you think about it.
Tortorella needs to look at his fellow Madison Square Garden coach, Mike D’Antoni of the Knicks. D’Antoni’s offensive system is legendary. His whole coaching style is based on getting up a lot of shots and knocking them down early in the shot clock. He valiantly tried to implement that system for the Knicks for over a season before surrendering to a more defensive system that was better suited to the Knicks talent (or “talent”). And the Knicks have started to win. D’Antoni put aside his signature coaching style and crafted a system that worked for his personnel.
But really, more than anything Tortorella needs to do something. Other than mess around with the lines, he really hasn’t done anything significant to his team during the most recent slide. He demoted Matt Gilroy, a rookie defenseman, but that hasn’t accomplished anything. It might have even made things worse. No one has been benched. No one significant has been scratched. Tortorella has just complained and cursed a lot.
If he wants to change the Rangers fortunes, he’ll now need to actually coach a bit.
If he doesn’t start coaching for the players he has, rather than the players he wants to have, if he hasn’t actually already lost the Rangers, he certainly will lose them.