Here are the first batch of quotes from the Glen Sather conference call tonight, regarding the Rangers coaching change (please excuse any typos):
“I’ve been thinking about it probably the last couple of weeks. I could see the team starting to slide and, after the start that we had at the beginning of the year and the way we were playing and moving and controlling the puck, the game just started to erode and I thought sooner or later we were going to have to do something. I wish that it hadn’t have come to this, but it did. The last two or three games it was pretty obvious that we had tohave something done.”
“Talked to Tom this morning. I’m sure as you know, he’s a very classy, intelligent human being. It was a tough thing for both of us to deal with — emotional. But he handled it very well, very professional. He understands the coaching profession, he understands the mentality of the players sometimes and he knows that a lot of these things are out of his control. And coaches can only do what they think they’re doing is right. That’s the way Tom tried to deal with everything. He’s very optimistic, very upbeat every day.He approached everything very professional and I can’t say enough about the way he worked with us th elast three and a half years.
“Torts is certainly a lot more fiery and a lot different as a coach … I htink that he’s going to bring that fiery attitude and a lot of games we seemed to be missing it. It’s certainly not a sleight against Tom. It’s two entirely different styles.”
“I didnt know John at all at that point (in 2000). I had talked to John Muckler. I talked to John (Tortorella) a little bit, and one of the things I thought was really honest was that they’d done sucha poor job they deserved to be fired. I liked that approach, that he was honest and accepting what happened. I guess in retrospect you can look back and say, you know, that it would have been smart to keep him. But that was eight and a half years ago now. Things have a way of coming full circle. I know that he’s alwaus been interested in the Rangers and he’s always loved to be here and coach here, so I’m looking forward to getting to know him very well.”
“Absolutely. I think we all have to take responsibility for this. We think that we have a better hockey team than we’ve been playing the last 10 games. I don’t think we’ve played very well. To come out of the gate the way we did and play and perform and move the puck and control the play in the beginning of the year, something happened. Something shifted, and you can’t point your finger at Tom. You have to point it at everyone, the players included, to take responsibility for the way they played. And they have to be smarter, and play smarter and play harder. I think we all recognize that.”
“I think that some of the players that (were) brought in are better than they’ve played up to date. But I wouldn’t start to point fingers. … But I know a lot of players here have played very well in the past and I expect they’re going to play very well in the future. Sometimes, who could ever tell you about this coaching business? One guy gets some players to perform really well, and another guy can come in and it doesn’t work for him. It’s a strange business, a strange profession. We’re all trying to do the same thing. We’re all trying to do the right thing.”
“No, there was no compensation. (to Tampa Bay) These things just take time. They’re always complicated when you start dealing with different people and it just takes time to iron things out. Everything is fine.”
On the need to bring in a complete opposite personality: “Yes, I think Torts is going to bring a lot more fire to his game, to his approach and that’s not to be critical of Tom’s approach. That’s just Tom’s personality. If you look at some of the players on the team, the past coaches that they’ve had in their history, a lot of these guys have thrived under that kind of coaching. I felt we needed to get some more fire in there.”
“We had a lot of meetings with the players and a lot of meetings with the coaching staff and we tried to analyze it the best we could. We spent a lot of time dealing with the films, trying to figure out exactly what was going on. There really wasn’t any conclusive answer. We had lost our zip at one time, whether it was the game in Toronto when we were up 2-0 with seven minutes to go and there was a giveaway that started that onlaught — we ended up losing 6-2; or the game against Washington that we had them down 4-0. We have to be more of an attack team rather than a team that’s going to pull back and back in.”
March 4 trade deadline moves: “That’s certainly an option that’s coming soon. It’s not far away. The telephones are very busy, certainly a lot busier than they were in the first half of the year when teams were trying to sort themselves out. SO many of us are in the position of moving up or moving down, a lot of guys have to be careful. We have to be careful after a coaching move that we start to fool around with the personnel. I think it’s going to depend on how John sees the team and sees it going forward. He’s certainly going to have input into the lineup as well as the personnel, and it’s going to take him some time to see who’s here, but I wanted to be able to give him enough time to analyze that.”
“I wanted to be able to give him the opportunity to know the team and see where he’d like to make some improvements and get his input where he’d like to see those changed occur.”
On conversations and philsophy discussions he had with Tortorella: “I think he has a reputation that preceeds him. He also has a history with Jim Schoenfeld (from the Buffalo organization, presumably). They know each other very well and Jim, of course, knows me very well. He thinks our attitudes and desires are going to mesh quite easily. Our philosphies are the same. I know that John works hard. He’s very demanding. I like that. He’s going to bring some of those things back to our game on the ice. We need it at this stage.”
“Schoeny is going to be an interim assistant coach. There was no consideration in giving him the head coaching job. He really wasn’t interested in it.” (others were considered, he said).
On Tortorella being on record as not being a Sean Avery fan: “I think you always have to be cognizant of the fact that coaches have opinions about players and people in different organizations at different times can have the history with Sean that we do. I think that, over time, you learn to love him just like I have. That’s going to be something we’re going to have to deal with. Sean is still part of the Dallas hockey club and we’re not really at liberty to speak about it.”