Saturday, May 19, 2012

N.Y. Rangers ~ Coach Torts Versus the Media




Coach Torts vs. The Media

This is a Sucker's Bet!

After Game One, most had the Rangers winning this series in five games.  After Game Two, everyone said the Rangers wouldn't keep up with New Jersey's scoring.  And after an unexplained late benching of Marian Gaborik, they went back to bashing John Tortorella again.  How fickle.

The fact of the matter is, Coach Torts has treated Marian Gaborik like this all season.  Coach Torts has made Marian Gaborik disappear in third periods many times over the last TWO seasons.  When he gets lazy, avoids the corners, and settles for stick work instead of taking the body, Coach crashes down on him hard.  Forget about what lapses in defense, mental or otherwise, do to Torts.  Those types of infractions are inexcusable.  For this time, Gaborik was guilty of poor judgement in the  defensive zone.  But this is the way Marian Gaborik chose to be treated.  Upon going dull, Coach has always had to sharpen Gaborik's edges a little.  With stern kicks in the posterior, Gabby usually responds very well.

If you're going to take a stance with your player in a short playoff series, you do it early, like in Game Two, so hopefully the situation is corrected as the series presses on.  Otherwise, there is no relax mode with Torts, and sometimes Gaborik needs some inspiration, or reinforcement - your choice.  But that's just the kind of thing Coach Torts doesn't want to broach with them - the Media.  For the talkies in particular, Game Two was just one game in time, and fodder to fill their slot.  For Torts and Gaborik, this is part of a relationship coaches have with their various players.

Players respect the heat Tortorella generates.  Coach ripped Derek Stepan while he was on the ice and sat Gaborik on the bench.  So what's the difference?  That's in-game stuff.  Different players respond to different stimulus.  And Coach knows them all.  But he's not about to share with the Media.  He is not going to throw players under a bus, criticize his players, or their play, to the Media.  He is not going to be second-guessed either, because again, that ultimately leads to throwing players under the freakin' bus.  It's all tied in.  Coach, like he demands of his players, leaves all that on the ice, and inside the locker room.  The brilliant part is, Coach is pulling it off, and being allowed to do so.

My advice to reporters is to observe and report what you see.  If you notice a trend in behavior or play, or lack there of, call it like you see it.  You're probably on to something.  Just don't expect to hear anything from Torts.  Those who've covered the Rangers all season know this.  Their familiarity with the team, still allows them to write fine quality articles in spite of Tortorella.  For those who depend on Coach's sound bites for their content, or need Coach to inspire an article through something he says, tough break.  Pay your dues, and learn your craft.

Whether you like them or loathed them, guys like the late Dick Young, Dave Anderson, Mike Lupica, and particular to this situation, Larry Brooks, do not need to ask questions in order to get their thoughts across, or interpret what they see.  Larry Brooks and John Tortorella have long antagonized each other and clashed famously over the years.  But even then, Larry Brooks doesn't need Torts to confirm anything for him; key word being confirm.  Everything Larry Brooks needs gets recorded slowly, precisely, methodically, with near monk-like meticulousness, into a spiral notebook.

In defense of the Media however, compared to the regular season, Coach Torts acts like the playoffs are reason to elevate to Def Con-Three.  I truly feel bad for Stan Fischler though.  He deserved better.  But that was the second time in two series Coach was questioned about taking a time out, when it was clearly evident to all, Coach had a tired team committed to the ice with no chance for a line change.  But c'mon, Stan knew the answer before he even asked.  Stan has been around the game too long for a question like that.

Unfortunately for the Media, Brendan Shanahan can't do anything about Coach Torts' behavior.  Commissioner Bettman doesn't seem bothered for that matter either.  You know what they say, even bad publicity is good publicity.  And Coach has been making for very intense conversation.  Just not by me, and most Rangers Fans, who already know how to form our own opinions.  Well, most of us anyway.  Either way, if Las Vegas would put odds as to who wins the battle between Torts and the Media, my money is on Coach.

Before moving on, I ask you to think back -  think back to Sean Avery.  Before Coach Torts even came to New York, he openly expressed disdain for the volatile forward.  But once both wound up on the Rangers, Coach avoided criticising Avery to the Media at all costs.  Coach just continued to do what he thought needed to be done without trying to share his reasons.  Back then, I was against Torts' Avery Policy.  But always believed in the Coach more.


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