“Stay the f*** off the logo.”
The Rangers team logo takes up most of the carpet in the middle of the locker room, and it’s forbidden territory again. That’s one of the changes John Tortorella made yesterday as he took over as the new head coach of the Rangers, the actual comment was made by head trainer Jim Ramsay, aka the enforcer.
“We talked about that,” Tortorella said. “I don’t think you walk on a logo anywhere.”
It’s a tradition followed by a lot of NHL teams, but wasn’t really religiously followed at the Rangers practice facility before a room full of reporters came in to ask players about their first impressions of the new coach. It speaks to Tortorella’s respect for tradition, and is indicative of other changes he made.
He took down the standings and statistics that former coach Tom Renney had in the locker room. He’s organized. He’s the guidence counselor. Paul Mara said it felt like the first day of school and Nigel Dawes mentioned the new rules outlined when he addressed the team earlier this morning.
Tortorella said he didn’t know much about the players he has inherited, didn’t know what the lines had been, hadn’t seen a lot of Rangers games this year and needed to check Henrik Lundqvist’s nickname after saying he was the best goalie in the league.
Tortorella can call him whatever he wants, so long as the Rangers start winning again.
“Losing knocks you down,” Tortorella said. “And listen, I am going to push them, I am going to push them, but you also as a coach have to understand when to be with them and I think this is a time to try to get them to feel decent about themselves. There’d be nothing better than a win but I think its my job to allow them to express themselves and get a little bit of confidence.
“I think they’re a little bit beat up. This reputation that I just kick the hell out of people, it takes on a life of its own. As a coach you better understand what your team is right now as far as how they feel and I think they need to get a little self confidence and we’re going to allow them to work through that and try to get a win.”
Tortorella’s assistant (and assistant GM) Jim Schoenfeld led most of practice, and the new coach said Mike Pelino was off the ice and in a new role as a scout in order to make a clean break from the old staff. Benoit Allaire will still be on the ice for practice.
He wouldn’t address Sean Avery in Hartford, saying it would be tampering.
But his arrival seems to be a relief for a team dogged by losing.
“To play in that building in Madison Square and the logo of the Rangers, are you kidding me? It’s an honor.”