Tonight, the Rangers will be looking across at the Oilers bench, and will see a familiar face: Tom Renney, now an associate coach with Edmonton. Renney took over as head coach of the Rangers at the end of the 2003-2004 season, and remained there until being fired in February of the 2008-2009 season. In what totals exactly four seasons (well, one game shy of four seasons) with the Rangers, Renney posted a record of 164-117-0-46. He led the Rangers back to the postseason in 2005-2006 after an absence of nearly a decade, and made the playoffs during each of his full seasons behind the bench.
Many didn’t like his coaching method of five-in-the-picture, but it worked for Jaromir Jagr, Michael Nylander, and Martin Straka, who formed the top line during each of the postseason appearances under Renney. When Nylander was jettisoned to Washington and Straka returned to the Czech Republic, the new players brought in just couldn’t adjust to the stifling system. By the middle of the 2007-2008 season, it appeared that Renney had lost the players, specifically captain Chris Drury and alternate captain Scott Gomez. Renney didn’t last until the trading deadline of that season, and was replaced by current coach John Tortorella, who is essentially the anti-Renney in every way, shape, and form.
Regardless of your feelings towards Renney’s system, you have to admire the man that ended a long standing playoff drought. He had his flaws, specifically in his treatment of some players, but he was almost 50 games over .500 for the Rangers, and again, he gave us a taste for success and the playoffs that we hadn’t enjoyed since 1997.