If you’ve been paying enough attention to Tom Renney during his tenure in New York, then you know the coach isn’t likely to sell out a player to the media.
And if one of those players had a particularly regrettable game, as Michal Rozsival did tonight, then you can count on Renney making a point of defending him to anyone who will listen. And so when Renney was asked about his $20 million defenseman, who had hand in both Boston goals in the second period tonight, it was as if the coach was expecting the question.
Asked what he would say to Rozsival, Renney said, “I’d tell Michal, ‘You’re not alone. We’re right there with you and we’re going to back you up 100 percent.’ I’m disappointed that things like that happen because I’d like to see anyone out there who decides to boo him stand out there and take a pass on bad ice when the puck is flipping. You try to stay over top of it rather than knock it down with the stick because then it is a clear-cut breakaway.
“I’m disappointed in what he’s getting right now because he’s a hell of a human being and a great teammate. He’s a good player and he has been since he got here. He needs to know that from us and he gets that every day from his teammates every single day. We’ll stay with him.”
That’s all fine, of course, but it’s worth noting that Renney didn’t stay with Rozsival on the power play in the third period, when everyone from Marc Staal to Dmitri Kalinin was at the point instead of him. After Renney was done with his press conference, I asked him on the side if his reasoning for bypassing Rozsival was to avoid subjecting the player to more boos.
The coach said part of it was just wanting to get other defensemen involved, but he certainly didn’t discount what Rozsival would have confronted.
“It’s a 50-50 propostion and it’s a fair question,” Renney said. “There’s a part of you that says, ‘Let’s save the guy the anguish and not put him out there, and there’s a part of you that wants to say, ‘We believe in you.’ It’s a fine line because it doesn’t get any easier. It doesn’t matter. He could score the winning goal and they could cheer and clap, but Monday’s another day. It takes a while to climb out of this hole. All we can do is help.”