Break-up day: John Tortorella, Part I


The coach came in and, this time didn’t sit down. He said he’s not going to give us 45 minutes like he did last year because he said too much and got into trouble for saying it last year. Then he went nearly 40 minutes again, and pretty much answered every question, some of them very interestingly … except those about himself or his new contract.

John Tortorella:

On his contract:

“I’m not going to talk about myself. This is all about … if you have questions about the team and the players and stuff like that. I’ve never felt comfortable and I’m not going to feel comfortable”

On the feeling two days after Game 5:

“It sucks.”

On Gaborik saying he needs to regroup and re-think his game and get in better shape:

“Yeah, I mean, he cares. And it wasn’t a good year for him. It certainly wasn’t up to his standard. He does. However he needs to re-commit himself to make this work and to get into a better mindset — I think that starts with a mindset and that propels him onto the ice  to help the team — he’ll do. One thing that’s promising to me is I saw it. The first year that he was here I saw it. He did it. And hopefully he comes back and does it again. This wasn’t him this year, for whatever reason, and we can beat it up all we want, but I saw a different player a year before. He knows that, which is the most important thing. We had a very good meeting today and he wants to get himself in a situation where he can really help the club, especially offensively.”

Said it wasn’t his injuries that effected the way Gaborik played.

“I know he cares. That’s the bottom line. When a player cares and he’s done it before and has played at a level, he’ll get back to that level.”

What was his problem this year?

“I have no idea. You’ll have to ask him. Again, I don’t want to … I know that’s a big topic here, but I’m not going to dissect it completely. Some of that belongs between Gabby and I. So all I’m tell you guys on the subject of Gabby is he knows he didn’t play up to his standard, we know, and he wants to get back to it. And I always look at players. When I see a young player improving, when he’s a young guy, it’s promising because he’s improving. When I see a guy play a a level, you know that he has the ability to get back there, and I believe Gabby will.”

On the way the team is structured, it is critical for him to get back there:

“Yes. And I think that’s a motivation for him, too. He sees that. I think we have a really good foundation, but we also need to be able to be more consistent skillfully, too. Gabby has that. I don’t want to speak out of turn with Glen, but I think if we can, and it’s there, we need to add some skill to our lineup. I think we have guys, and I always, because I get killed as far as how I’m saying it, I’m trying to be … there’s skill on our hockey club. The top-end skill, that’s something we need to add, and Gabby is top-end skill.”

Is that within the system, or does it have to come from the outside?

“I think right now, within the system, it depends on … I’ll put it to you this way. We need to look at all avenues. Because I think we’re building the right foundation. I think we had some really good growth and surprises. When you get into the real stuff of the playoffs and you play a skillful team like Washington, you can see where we need some help in that area there. So we’ll have to look in all areas.”

Who surprised him this season?

“You start with the two kids who are playing 3 and 4 on our defense in McDonagh and Sauer. McDonagh coming out of college, Michael Sauer really having an injury-prone year the prior year and stepped right into camp and played very well at a very tough position. Stepan comes out, and we forget he’s right out of college. We didn’t know if he was going to be here or in Hartford or whatever. He had a very good year. He found it a different life in the playoffs. There was a different animal there. Brian Boyle, as I said to guys all year long, I thought he was going to Hartford. He had a really good year. Anisimov  struggled toward the end of the year, I thought struggled in the playoffs. But for a young man, he’s just beginning to understand what it is to be a pro, I thought he had some growth. I probably missed some guys. But we grew. It was a team that found its identity and stuck with it. And, again, we need to keep getting better, keep adding to that foundation.”

On Boyle and Prust playing more than they ever had in their careers, and how they continue to play at that level:

“They’ve got to do it again. It’s not me. It’s them. They have to do it again. That’s when you become … you know, Pruster didn’t play much in Calgary. It was probably a really good career move. It was a great deal for us. I didn’t expect some of the things out of Pruster that we got out of him. We can talk about how good players were, but you have to do it again. That’s when it’s legit. So some of these guys have to continue improving, not just do it again, but continue to improve. I look at Brian Boyle. Although he didn’t score the goals, I thought he was probably one of our most consistent forwards in the playoffs. That’s good. Pruster, it was a first time for him. At times, it was a bit of an up and down situation for him in the playoffs. It was his first time. So with these guys that have these years, and we continue to build our team, you can’t rest. You can’t give into it and say, ‘I’m here.’ You’ve got to continue to improve, and I think the type of people they are, I know they know it … but I think they feel that already.”

On Michael Del Zotto getting back to the level he was as a rookie, and being the power play quarterback:

“There’s a number of building blocks with Michael, and a number of defensemen that had pretty good rookie years ended up taking a step backwards. You accept that, and maybe change some things, and I don’t want to get into specifics, but something has to change and you embrace the process. Because it’s not an easy position to play. And I’m really anxious to see Michael, first of all get him healthy, and really anxious to see him in camp again. He’s going to get a fair whack at it again in camp and I think there’s mental maturity that goes with it. And as each player goes through the ups and downs that Michael has, I think he’ll mature. I know I use it ad nauseum, the process. But that’s what it is. These are young people. This is a young team that is still going through the process and for some of them, it’s been a little herky jerky along the way, but that’s still a process. It’s how you handle those situations.”

On being concerned, at last year’s break-up day, about Del Zotto falling off after his rookie year:

“Well, in the second half of the year he wasn’t exactly dead-on. It just had slipped a little bit. He’s got tremendous promise, and it’s something that we need. We need that offensive type guy. See, I thought his defending — he’s learning how to defend; it’s the offensive part of the game that we hope comes about. Because that’s a big part of what we need here, also, within our team, is that type of defenseman. So, as a young guy, you make a read on him, and you know, the second half of (last) year wasn’t great for him, and I’m not sure if that snowballed on him or not, but it’s been a … this kid’s 20 years old and it’s the toughest position to play and it’s a lot to ask of the amount of responsibility he got. And we took some of it away to allow him to not miss the steps in the process and hopefully he’ll respond as we start next year.”

On having a young team, and Henrik Lundqvist saying that, for the first time, he thought, “I only have so many years left” and how quickly this team can ascend:

“It depends. I don’t have a crystal ball. We’re doing it the right way. Like I said to you before, and I jumped the gun after our last game, I know we’re doing it the right way. But I don’t have a crystal ball. I think during the summer here, if there are opportunities to add some pieces, it depends what happens there. Because there’s a group of people that we definitely feel are the core, but you’re always looking to try and improve your team. I’m sure Glen’s going to be doing that during the summer, and we’ll see. If there are certain pieces added that help people, that help the club along the way, you ascend quicker. But there’s no, you just can’t put a timetable on it. You need to stay with it, though, and not get impatient with it when it isn’t working right away, because it does take time. And so we’ll see.”

I asked him if there comes a point where they say, “We’ve got a lot of kids now, we’ve laid the foundation, we’ve got a lot of second/third-line depth … maybe now we can trade some tomorrow for today.”

“It doesn’t have to be a trade, but if that right piece is there, maybe in free agency, yeah. Because I think we, and I felt we really stuck with it this year through the trading deadline. We kept our kids and the kids kept on growing, so I think our foundation has grown. If there’s an opportunity to add that piece that isn’t a kid, that will help you in a position, sure. But let’s not upset the building process of getting rid of all our kids for a ‘Maybe.’ I don’t think it has to be in a trade. It could be free agency. I haven’t looked at the free agency list (ED. NOTE: I thought about calling B.S. on him when he said that). We’ll have to look at that and that’s what we’re just starting to do now. But I agree with you. There’s timing in this stuff here. And I think as we’ve added a lot of kids this year and they’ve grown into some pretty big pieces to our team, you’ve got to look at that, maybe that top-line player, that top skilled guy. Sure, we’re going to look at that guy.”


More to come later … good stuff on Avery, on Drury, on Staal … very interesting. Then, as I said earlier, some more players.

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  1. bull dog line

    wow and Avery does all of that in playing just four minutes per game?!

    Discipline? Right…Because Avery is the only player with PIM on this team…he’s that kind of a player and it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone anymore.

    Dumping and stick handle? How can he stick handle when he always goes offside trying to enter the zone w/o the puck? lol


    as much as you (and many others) don’t like to admit this but Torts has definitely fugged with Avery’s head and that shows in Avery’s game ever since Torts got here.

  2. Oh – someone said it in the last thread – I would also take a flyer on Simon Gagne. Not a bad idea. 1 year. Take a shot.

  3. RangerDanger on

    So what would YOU do this summer?

    1) Sign Richards


    2) Sign Cole and/or Kaberle


    3) Stick with kids, re-sign players like Fedotenko, Emminger on the cheap and keep going with youth. Then make a splash next summer?

  4. Right – but for “low” money and low commitment he might be a nice piece to throw in center and use as an experience guy.

  5. 1) Can’t be done without moving Drury in some way (retirement or buyout)
    2) Absolutely not
    3) Probably the smartest move. I don’t know if the Rangers are even a Brad Richards away from contending. If he was available next year when all that cap room is coming up then I think it would make more sense to get Richards, but my main concern is that how much Richards throws off the development of other players.

  6. Ranger, what about 4, a combo: Keep Tenko, lose Emminger. I’ll be the first to say I’m wrong if I am, which I never am, and I know everyone is pointing to him, but I just don’t see Richards being “it”……dang you are all like crazy glue, I can’t get unstuck…..

  7. Manny, do you want Gagne getting the ice time over MZA? Or what if Christian Thomas has a dynamite camp? I figured that as the team stands now, 5 of the 6 top forward positions are filled by Gaborik/Cally/Dubi/Anisimov/Stepan. Gagne would get at least top 9 if not top 6 minutes. Those minutes would have to be subtracted from someone else.

  8. that would be funny as hell, if you did a cough/bullshit in the middle of that statement, if i ever saw something like that on TV i would crack up hard

  9. You’re right CT. You’re right. I guess it would come down to whether or not we think the kids are going to ride it for the long haul. A lot of these guys do well initially and then have a tough time riding it out. We are hoping to shed a lot of older guys so we might want to have one or two around that have maybe one or two more seasons in the tank. Could be very valuable for the kids to play with a “brand name” type player.

    But I agree – it’s not like I am saying DO IT! I am just saying – it’s something to think about and as you say it comes down to whether you want to take those minutes away from somebody else.

  10. Luvagudpwrply on

    There’s way too much happy talk about growth and process and foundation.

    Let’s get a little “you are what your record says you are” goin’ to strike the necessary balance.

    Some players improved on his watch. Some regressed, substantially. They took the Caps to seven games two years ago. A poiseless five this time.

    The power play is in the hands of the same guy who has only made it embarrassing the last two years, and the futility down the stretch was what caused me to say “quick exit” in the panted-after playoffs, if they don’t find a miracle (or some basic everyday human imagination) for that CRUCIAL part of the game. The record says he is as lost as any head coach around here in the last four decades when it comes to the PP.
    And yes, I understand Part-Time Glen (the same guy who has helped bring one playoff series win in 11 years – that alone is a staggerin’ negative) and his scouts have done woeful work getting finishers of any kind on this squad, despite starting all over several years ago, but I’m talking about the consistent inability to even set the damned thing up, and at least look like you can create chances.

    And don’t forget (since Torts basically admits here that all the gold in the system so many of you profane mopes are so excited about is essentially more Sather and Scouts’ dross)
    that the guy orchestrating the search for the high-skill players this summer is the same one
    who brought you the cap-crippling Gomez/Drury/Redden 7+ million wasted trifecta, along with a gang of lesser unimpactiful lites.

    The chances that there will be a “next step” for this franchise with this conspicuously disappointing duo are two: slim and……

  11. Yea. The PP is bad. Did the ‘Hawks score during their 1:53 5-on-3 yesterday? Nope. Did they look rather lost in that situation? Yup. Did they win the Cup last year with essentially the same team? Yup.

    I talk to a lot of people that are fans of a lot of different teams and they all complain about their teams PP.

    I don’t know how to fix it. I think it’s a combination of coaching and top talent. I do believe that we have the coaching, we just need some people to step up as top line talent on the PP. We have faith in Del Zotto and that could be a bit of a game changer for us.

  12. CCCP- “wow and Avery does all of that in playing just four minutes per game?!”

    I see that lie/argument/exaggeration all the time. My post here is not against Avery, it’s against BS.
    Avery averaged 11:14 per game for the year. To start the season he was probably averaging 14-15 minutes. He does no PK time either.

    Prust averaged 13:48 per game, 1:41 of which was PK. He somehow managed to get the StevenMc award with that.

  13. CT, LMAO :)

    I know this goes against the non-response pact here, but hey jackbandwagons…..!

  14. Uh-Oh. Did I break the non-response pact!? Is this a “blood-out” type situation?

  15. very forthright interview with Tortorella.

    Any word on Drury retiring, Carp? I’m not a socialist but the man has made enough money!

    “I only have so many years left”

    probably true but not what I wanted to hear from the King :(

    We do need that crease-clearing d-man. McIlrath please be the next Beukeboom!!!

  16. “Prust averaged 13:48 per game, 1:41 of which was PK. He somehow managed to get the StevenMc award with that.”

    He deserved it IMO

  17. Carp – I have only been part of the blog since the playoffs, but I’ve enjoyed reading it, and the comments from the majority of the good, passionate Ranger’s fans like myself.

    One of your points you made this morning is when you said Boyle, Prust, and Avery is a great third line moving forward. I feel that this line would be a great 4th line, if the Rangers are going to be legitimate cup contenders. The fact of the matter is they are not going to get all the pieces they need this offseason, but when they do, they need 3 scoring lines. Boyle is really the only guy who can score of the 3, and I have to see more from him than just one year, in which he didnt produce after the break.
    The team I always want to see the Rangers emulate in terms of building a consistent cup contender is the Red Wings. They’ve done it mostly through the draft, and I want to see the Rangers continue to build through the draft, not sign over-priced, older veterans with an injury history like Richards.
    I think trying to sign under the radar free agents is the way to go for now to add some pieces they need, until their youth develops.
    Looking at another franchise that fnally did it the right way, the Blackhawks, I am praying that They can one day get our Kane, Toews, and Sharp.

  18. Manny, all moustaches were left in the sink at the Verizon Center on Saturday.

    Good afternoon, Sally!

    Thank you, too … and that goes for all of youse.

  19. I blame Bobby Granger for our early exit! When he was here before we never made playoffs…last time we made playoffs, rangers brought him back and we blew a 3-1series lead… this year, same story… Bobby Granger came back again and we only won 1 playoff game!

    I blame Bobby Granger! ;)

  20. Well, Tom, I look at it as a third line because the coach can use it as a checking line, and because Boyle and Prust kill penalties … they aren’t the typical fourth line — you know, goon, and sadly in today’s NHL, shootout specialist.

    If they ever get a legit first line, that would be a perfectly good third line, imo.

  21. I am praying that They can one day get our Kane, Toews, and Sharp.


    AMEN Tom. Amen

    CT – go to the Verizon center and get those hairs out of the pipes! Those things are worth money, man!

  22. Red Wings have gotten ridiculously lucky with their late round picks, particularly Datsyuk and Zetterberg. Even Franzen was a 3rd round pick and those guys tend to defy the odds to make it as an NHL player let alone an impact player.

    They’ve also filled Lidstrom’s water bottle from the fountain of youth and nearly every risk/reward signing goes in their favor.

    Obviously scouting is a huge reason for all that to occur, but I’d say the Flyers or Canucks have built their teams in more realistic fashions.

  23. 3rd round pick isn’t that late IMO. Cally was a second rounder if I’m not mistaken. Hopefully Kreider will make us bank!

  24. Hi everybody..I spent the Easter Holidays in the beautiful city in Munich, which is one of nicest place around the world with probabably best restaurants all over the world..I watched the first two games in Washington and it was easy predict that the Rangers wouldn´t make it to the next round because the Capitals were clearly the better talented team…

    painful to say but its reality..

    I just want to thank you Carp for your great work in covering the Rangers in giving a lot of insight but there are times when you learn there are more important things going on as a hockey team in New York..

    I wish you all the best and to all boneheads there were a lot interesting discussion on the blog and hope to see you next season but I cant promise to be back as you getting older and you get different a kind of look on different things in LIVE

    Matthias, Eidengesäss, Germany

  25. Whenever people (mostly NHL talk show hosts, sportscasters/writers, etc.) talk about late round draft picks blossoming into stars, they always mention Zetterberg and Datsyuk. And rightfully so, I feel that they’re the two best two-way centers in the league. But give a shout-out to freakin’ Henrik man!

  26. Cally was a 4th rounder.

    I’ll try to find out where I read it, but the drop off after the first 2 rounds in terms of players making it to the NHL is pretty steep.

  27. Matthias,

    I always enjoy reading your posts. Hopefully you’ll be back, because it wouldn’t be the same without you, but either way, I wish you the best.

  28. So, Torts is campaigning for Richards is he not?

    I don’t see any other centers in the free agent list that score more than 25 goals a season and can be a setup man for Gaborik. Gagne hasn’t hit 20 goals in a couple of years. What else is there in free agency? Not much.

  29. word.

    thanks for your coverage Carp. with our young core we should make it to the finals soon.

  30. “So, Torts is campaigning for Richards is he not?”

    Unless Drury retires I say roll the dice and run with what we got

  31. Who was scouting McCabe as he skated like he was in mud? They gave up a 3rd rounder for him, at the time was considered a steal, and I hope that doesn’t come back to haunt us.
    As far as the power play goes, it all come back to having no top end talent besides Gaborik, because you cannot just have a PP QB (which McCabe was not) and 4 other bad cogs. They all need to work as one unit, and continue moving, create space, and make sharp, quicker passes to keep the PK unit off balance and on their heels.

  32. noonan- Yes, my point being that Prust made the most out of the time he played which wasn’t that much more than Avery.

  33. Shoot the puck, Barry on

    Can someone explain to me how we can’t sign Richards as currently constituted? I know we’ve got Drury and Hank, but if we decide against signing Gilroy and some others we should have some room.

    I think it might be time to consider trading a guy like Dubi for a premium player. I know Nash’s name has been bandied about, but he’s at an $8m salary…

  34. Latona, thanks for the kind words..

    But the Rangers need someone different than Sather to lead the way..Under him Ranger will never improve to become a top class organization..Its a surreal world because Sather can do whatever he wants and will not feel the consequences..that makes me disenchanting !!!!

    But we will see what the future brings…I hope there will be some changes, but….

  35. Can someone lease tell me why some people are down on Gilroy? He’s young, and he looks good skating the puck from red line to red line when given the chace. He looks somewhat like he has a purpose moving the puck transitioning from D to O, unlike most of our D-men, and he has a pretty good shot.

  36. Barry,

    Many of the restricted FAs are going to get substantial raises. First and foremost Callahan and Dubinsky. Then Boyle and Anisimov. Their salaries will absorb most of the freed up cap space by not re-signing most of their unrestricted FAs.

    In order to get a premium player, Dubi would have to be packaged with another highend player such as Stepan or McDonagh.

    And there’s a few issues with that idea. First, trading players that have relatively cap friendly deals for multiple years (meaning not rentals like Kovalchuk and Hossa were) rarely happens in the salary cap era. Second, exactly which player would they target? Third, the excess production of the premium player would have to fairly high in order for the trade to make sense.

    A good example is to look at the trade the Avs and Blues made for Erik Johnson and Chris Stewart.

  37. Thank you CT! Your elegance has allowed me to say “I second CT” rather than give it my own shot.

  38. Tom,

    Gilroy isn’t particularly young (nor is he particularly old), even if he has only 2 years of NHL experience. He probably could have been slightly more productive if he had been given more power play time during his 2 years with the Rangers, but I don’t think he has a particularly good shoot. Mostly above average skating ability, average passing vision and average defensive ability. He’s got a good story behind him (local kid, walk on at BU, wears his number to honor his brother) but I’d much rather see them take their chances with Del Zotto if they want to go with youth or more established and low cost vet in the 6th D role.

  39. I don’t know Tom – I actually really like Gilroy – I think we saw flashes of a really good player before McCabe got here and Gilly became the odd man out. I would like to see him get a bunch of minutes and really be brought in on the offense.

  40. Sorry all, sometimes I forget my awesome sense of humor and just get ticked off! Where has ilb been today!!???

  41. Ilb is performing Brain Transplant surgery using the cranial screw top technique invented by the one and only Dr. Michael Hfuhruhurr.

  42. Wicky reminded me of something the other night. Avery used to be on PK.
    06-07 he averaged 1:34 per game.

    Scenes I’d like to see:
    Avery, next camp “Torts,.. I wanna kill penalties”

  43. I disagree CT, I thought Gilroy was one of our better players offensively speaking in the caps series. He was consistently joining the rush and creating (what little) offense we had throughout the series. He hadn’t had a good enough chance this season to really try and show his abilities, and he is partially to blame for that with his poor-mediocre defensive play. However, after seeing McCabe and his inability to skate with the puck and make poor decisions offensively, I would be more than happy to have Gilroy on our 3rd pair to be a powerplay/offensive specialist, perhaps even on our 4th line. This all depends at the price he would come at this offseason, and the plans that torts and sather have for the team.

  44. poor decisions defensively*, granted McCabe wasn’t exactly awesome on offense either…

  45. CT- You’ve used “reached his physical peak” a couple of times in describing Gilroy. Can you be more specific as to what you mean exactly?

    Is he going to get taller? No, probably not :)
    Could he get stronger? Yes
    Can he improve his skills? Yes
    Is he at the age where his quickness, stamina, recuperative powers, etc have reached their natural peak? We have no clue really

  46. Thanks CT and Manny.
    As a former Hobey Baker award winner, I know that doesn’t guarantee anything, but he obviously has some skill, and I am pointing to the playoffs, where he upped his game.
    I’m not sure how much money he wants, but I would give him a shot and pair him with a tougher guy like Girardi or Sauer. People might think I’m nuts to break up Staal/Girardi, but I could see 3 good pairs next year with Gilroy and MDZ as consistent starters, but not paired together.

    As far as who I want gone from the team next year based on their contract and/or lack of performance and skill are:

    – Avery, Boogaard, Christensen, Drury, Frolov, Prospal, Wolski, Eminger, and McCabe. I like the heart and passion Prospal plays with, but he’s too slow at this point, and gets knocked down way too much, in addition to his declining skills.

  47. Avery, next camp “Torts,.. I wanna kill penalties”


    Torts, next camp “Only if you let me bar-tend for a day at Warren 77″… and you know it ain’t gonna happen!

  48. Keep in mind folks, when Mike Bossy was drafted he was picked 22nd. Most experts (especially in Montreal) thought him too frail to play in the NHL. So…nobody’s perfect.

    The only thing that I ever saw Gaborik do that was sensational was score about half a dozen goals or so against Rangers a couple of years ago in one game.. Everything else has been downhill.

    And I still have to wonder about the coaching staff, which lets that preposterous excuse for a PP go on year after year. I’m actually amazed that they did as well as they did, all things considered.

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