John Tortorella met with the media for 25 minutes, a good give-and-take session. One of the things he mentioned as a positive in coming back to New York was he knows he's going to get criticized, he knows there will be boos. And he likes the passion for hockey that shows from both Rangers fans and media.
One immediate change. Us media types were told in no uncertain terms by trainer Jim Ramsey to stay the %#(&^$ off the logo in the dressing room. The carpet in the room has a big Rangers shield in the middle and Tortorella thinks it's disrespectful to walk over it. Most, if not all NHL teams have the same dressing-room policy and it was in place with Tom Renney. We the media just sort of knew this and walked around. But with the dressing room full today, there was plenty of stomping on the logo. Tortorella was among the first, if not the first, to be militant in his defense of the logo while he was the Lightning.
Assistant coach Mike Pelino, who was retained from Renney's staff along with goalie coach Benoit Allaire (who worked with Tortorella in Phoenix) was not on the ice and will not be. Tortorella explained he believes coaching changes should not be vanilla and there needs to be a clean break. Pelino will now help with the pre-scouting and the video work. Tortorella will handle the line changes and the power play. Jim Schoenfeld will handle the defense pairs and the penalty kill. It's not clear when Allaire will be on the bench as a third assistant, though I'd doubt it. Tortorella also made clear that Schoenfeld, his former boss with the Coyotes, is doing him a favor. The Rangers tried to get Mike Sullivan as an assistant from Tampa Bay but the Lightning management, in a word, freaked and a deal couldn't be done. So Schoenfeld, who had endorsed Sullivan's hiring, agreed to step in for the rest of the season.
On other topics:
- Tortorella said he needs to strike a fine balance as he implements his system, which he called philosophically different from Renney's and not overload his new players.
"My biggest question is how much do we give them in such a short time here. I don't want to confuse them any more. I know how I want them to play. What do you have for personnel, can they play your style? That's what I'm trying to work through. One practice, I don't have a clue."
"I think I know what's been troubling them. there's been so much around the club with the coaching situation and the losing, losing knocks you down. I'm going to push them. Also, as a coach, you have to understand when you need to be with them. There's a time when you need to get them to feel decent about themselves, allow them to express themselves and have a little confidence."
- On coming back to New York, the Boston native said it's been something he's wanted for a long time.
- He's happy the Rangers are playing three games in four nights so he can evaluate his team.
- He won't trap.
- He wants to learn from his mistakes with the Lightning.
"I made a major mistake with my team last year in Tampa. I was too aggressive and our D couldn't handle it and it cost us. I need to learn from that and see what these guys can handle in the change of style we're going to play."
- He called his stint with TSN this season like a player getting sent to the press box to watch a game. It's a good thing to get a different view but Tortorella was just itching to get back into coaching.
- He will not be making any Sean Avery comments.
- He's not sure what Rangers will have what roles.
"I think it will help some of the players not to be pigeon-holed into roles because I don't even know what the roles are."
- He knows he has a Dirty Harry reputation but isn't sure that's 100 percent correct.
"I think tough is the wrong word. I think honest is what I try to be. I'm not going to stand behind the bench and calmly go about it. I'm just not built that way. I think honesty is something the players want and I'm going to give it to themk because I think they deserve it. They're going to be pushed, they're going to be held accountable. There may be some bumps along the way, some conflict. But I don't think we should be afraid of conflict. Conflict is a good thing in developing relationships as long as it's done in a respectful manner."
- He has no desire to roll four lines.
"Your best players need to be your decision makers and be given every opportunity to win hockey games for us."
- He believes Henrik Lundqvist is the best goalie in the league, which will help the development of the Rangers' younger defensemen.