First of all, the news of John Tortorella coaching at the All Star game this season speaks volumes to what the Rangers coach has achieved this season. Several Rangers players have received media kudos and attention for the way they have worked their way to the top of the Eastern Conference this year and rightly so. However one person who has not received enough praise is the man that leads them, John Tortorella.
Perhaps overshadowed by the impressive play on the ice as well as the unnecessary, unfortunate handling of Sean Avery, Tortorella has proved this year that he is still an elite coach. The all star nod helps give the coach credit (for the record, the player voting by fans is a farce and totally de-values the event; however plenty of worth is still in the coaching choices).
Forget about being the winningest coach in US history, even though it’s a great accolade. Tort’s has stuck to his beliefs, gone with youth and transformed this club in to one with a huge future. Naturally there’s many elements of the Rangers return to prominence to tip your Broadway hat to; the great farm system, the great scouting, Sather’s ‘re-awakening’, player development etc, etc – they all deserve huge credit. However so does Tortorella.
The kind of guy Tortorella is, he’ll always have critics, people calling for his head and perhaps even after a Rangers Cup win might never be totally loved. He probably wouldn’t have it any other way. Indeed, here at the blog we’ve been critics of certain aspects of his time with the club, but he has always been the right guy for this team, water bottle tantrum or not.
During the Winter Classic (and well done to NBC for pointing it out – consider me shocked) Tortorella made subtle changes with the lines and tactics that tilted the game back towards the Rangers towards the end of the second period. His manoeuvring was integral to the Rangers comeback and it’s nice that it was acknowledged during the commentary.
Yes, it’s still the players that need to get it done on the ice but the coach remained focussed, calm and thoughtful throughout – even when the ever annoying Pierre McGuire was interviewing him. At the classic Tortorella out-duelled Peter Laviolette, another good coach by the way (when he’s not butting Dallas Stars players) and subsequently Torts sits proudly atop of the Eastern Conference with his team.
The Rangers are well on their way to cementing their place as a contender for this season and beyond. However despite the wonderful season the Rangers coach remains focused to the end, as evidenced by his refusal to acknowledge the team as a contender this season – just yet. It’s time to give a huge amount of credit to the guy that’s steering this team to unrivalled recent success. Tort’s has done well to earn 358 career victories and it’s a nice achievement. Maybe he’ll get to celebrate a second cup soon enough and really get the credit he deserves.