I knew we wouldn’t be able to do a simple YES or NO thing, and that people would stuff the ballot box with fake names … so I’m not going to go through and count ‘em up. If somebody wants to do that, thank you.
But we got enough of an idea that it’s certainly not unanimous or anything close. It’s almost 50-50. At least, it’s a legit discussion/argument. Not nearly as one-sided as I feared.
I just wanted to know that not everybody feels the same way.
I’m putting my cards on the table now.
I like Tom Renney. He’s a true gentleman, first and foremost. I think he’s a really good coach, the best the Rangers have had since Colin Campbell. That’s not saying much when the only competent coach they’ve had in that span is John Tortorella for about five minutes.
Renney is off-the-charts intelligent. As far as hockey, he forgets more hockey every day than all of us combined have ever known.
Fact: He will probably be fired if the Rangers go down in flames in the playoffs. Fact: A lot of you would probably prefer the Rangers go down in flames in the playoffs than for them to go to the conference final, just to get rid of him.
Now, a lot of you make good points about his lineup decisions, about his role in the flailing power play, about his role in the too-many-men penalties. I don’t understand the whole Prucha situation (but I plan to ask him this week). He doesn’t seem to hold his top players as accountable as he does Prucha.
I do understand the Rangers playing a defense-first system, even if it is boring. For all those Muckler-Low-Trottier-Sather years (which, you might have noticed, all ended with no playoffs), the Rangers were near the bottom of the NHL in goals-against average. In fact, during that drought, almost every year, the teams that didn’t make the playoffs across the board in the NHL were the same teams at the bottom of the GAA list. So Renney got them to pay attention to GAA, decided that was priority No. 1, and has gotten them into the playoffs … going on four years in a row.
Then you throw this year’s roster changes into the equation. No Jagr. No Shanahan. No Straka. No Avery (I had to name him, even though I don’t think the offense misses him a bit). How the heck is Renney supposed to unleash an attack (that was Muckler-Low-Trottier-Sather’s system) offense when his top goal scorers are stuck on 15 (the Devils’ top two scorers have 29 and 22, and they play defense-first).
If he tries to play the style they played the last 14 minutes of the third period Saturday, especially with the lack of counter-punch they have, the Rangers will lose 10-2 or 10-4 or 8-5.
Anyway, every one of these teams that puts on the Cinderella outfit and goes to the Stanley Cup finals does it by playing some form of the trap. Year after year after blessed year.
If you play back, dump it and send one guy on the forecheck, then that guy has to be hard on the forecheck, and he needs support, and the spacing on the back side can’t get too far apart or you’re going to have problems. And if you play without intensity, even when playing a “passive” system, you’re going to look awful, as the Rangers did at times Saturday and for the entire third period at Pittsburgh.
I know somebody’s going to throw in my face that I defended Colin Campbell to the end, and beyond. I did. Why? How about seven playoff series in his first three years? How about stepping into a really difficult situation, replacing Mike Keenan, following a championship and then a lockout, with an aging team that had traded a good bunch of its youth (Amonte, Weight) to win that one Cup (which was worth it). He coached a dreadful, beaten-up lineup to the conference final in ’97. Then had to survive the organizational kick-out-the-door of Messier, which was going to doom whomever was the coach at that time.
My best argument for keeping Campbell—who was the X’s and O’s wizard behind Keenan’s maniacal but successful mind-game motivation, who was responsible for the gameplan to win Game 7 vs. Vancouver after it all fell apart as Keenan was negotiating with other teams – was this:
Who are they going to hire who’s better? So, while I generally back and like Renney, I am not begging that he stay, either. I’m not anointing him Scotty Bowman or Al Arbour or even Keenan.
But if you let him go, who are you bringing in? Tortorella? I’m down with that. But do you think the guy in charge is capable of handling another search for a coach? Let’s try to remember that the guy in charge has had the opportunity at different times to hire Tortorella, Keenan, Pat Burns, Joel Quenneville, Ken Hitchcock, John Paddock, Bob Hartley. Instead, he hired Low. Then he passed on several of those guys, especially Keenan and Burns, who both wanted the job, to hire Trottier. Then he got turned down by Jim Schoenfeld and wound up with Renney almost by default.
I think Renney’s done a darn good job, and his system and his goalie give the Rangers a shot every year to at least get in and maybe make some noise. This team ain’t built to make any noise because it can’t score. That’s not on the coach. A lot of other stuff may be on him, but the fact that he has all these second and third-line players are not on him.
Worse, Renney is trying to play defense-first with a team with one frontline defenseman, and he’s a kid still learning. And he’s trying to jump-start his dreadful power play without a point man … he hasn’t had one since Brian Leetch … and without a guy who can stand in front and get tips and rebounds. Good luck with that.
I don’t think, as some of you have put it, that Brent Sutter could swim across the Hudson and make this all better if they were to switch places. I don’t … and I seem to recall Renney outcoaching Sutter in a playoff series last year. I don’t think a coaching change fixes much at all.
That all said, this is a poorly constructed team with very little coming in terms of top prospects, very little cap room to get help via trades or free agents next summer. And you can all stop PLEASE your ideas of Wade Redden being released, reassigned or bought out. It’s not happening. Ever. Same thing with the GM. He’s going nowhere until he wants to leave.
You are stuck with this, which is not as bad as some of you make it out to be, and not good enough where Prucha or the kid from Hartford, Artem Anisimov,is going to make a big difference … but geez, would it kill everybody to put them both in the lineup for a little while?
Want a new coach? Be careful what you wish for because you could do a lot worse. And probably would.
Whew. I really didn’t plan on giving my whole State-of-the-Rangers address so early. Now I will brace for the attacks, and hope I can survive to see the Super Bowl and Adam Graves Night. No vulgarities, please.
Seriously, though, I’d like to hear the arguments on either side, and please let’s not simply make it: He isn’t emotional or tough enough, or I don’t like his voice, or he’s lost the team, or it’s time, or I hate his ties. Let’s try to make some intelligent points on either side.