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Posted - 02/25/2009 :  16:32:21  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
In the wake of Tom Renney’s firing, New York Rangers GM Glen Sather washed the blood off his hands with the hiring of hardnosed coach John Tortorella. Apparently, the Rangers' players grew tired of Renney’s X’s and O’s style of coaching and were no longer responding. They have been sleepwalking through the season and are losers of 10 of their last 12 games.

In comes Tortorella for his second stint with the Rangers; he served as an assisitant and interim coach in the 1999-2000 season.

As far as coaches go, Tortorella bares resemblance to a younger Mike Keenan, who gained a reputation for being able to take over a coaching job mid-season and turn a team's fortune around. It is expected that Tortorella will be able to do the same thing with the Rangers, who on paper should be better than they have shown of late.

It remains to be seen how long veteran players such as Chris Drury, Markus Naslund, and Scott Gomez put up with Tortorella’s fiery ways, but none of those players have a reputation of mailing it in. It is unlikely that any of those three will face Tortorella’s wrath, although the trio have not produced as many would have expected.

In fact, offense has been an issue for the Rangers all season long as their 2.475 goals-per-game rank second to last in the Eastern Conference, ahead of only the lowly New York Islanders. Who said New York was an easy city to score in??

There are even more ingredients to help make this recipe so juicy.

Tortorella has shown a history of being extremely hard on goaltenders, particularly John Grahame in the 2005-06 season in Tampa Bay. How will this affect Henrik Lundqvist who has already had a few meltdowns this season, including pulling himself from a game against the Canucks?

Is the alleged Sean Avery re-experiment dead? Surely the Rangers can’t be concerned about Avery ruining the team chemistry (they have none) and the Rangers could certainly use some grit up front, but one would have to think that mixing a supposedly rehabilitated Sean Avery with John Tortorella could be the makings of a reality television show in itself.

Wait a second... did I just say a 'rehabilitated' Sean Avery? We are already hearing a lot of so-called experts thinking there is no way that Avery will be welcomed onto a team run by John Tortorella, but Sather definitely makes it sound as though he is going to try to convince the coach to give the player a chance.

"Sean has not played many games, but he's worked hard, his attitude has been great, they've won three of four. He's got one assist but its AHL, the NHL is a lot different. He's coming along, we'll deal with that in the next week...He (Tortorella) doesn't have the history with Sean that we do. Over time, you learn to love him like I do."

It sounds like Sather definitely has Avery in his sights, regardless of who is coaching.

So, how does Tortorella’s arrival in New York affect your fantasy teams?

The Rangers should be able to find a way to score some more goals. Tortorella will instill a renewed level of heart in the players, and it will – at least for the short term – translate into increased offense. In particular, expect to see Drury and Gomez to finish strong down the stretch and Lundqvist will benefit, especially in the wins category.

Keep a close eye on the Avery situation and snap him up if you need help in the PIMs category. We like Avery’s chance of success under the no-nonsense Tortorella, combined with the previously mentioned endorsement from Sather. Of course, the idea of bringing Avery back to New York could be a non-issue if Tortorella wants absolutely nothing to do with him.

As for Wade Redden, well, we’re not sure that anyone can fix him.

Ray Irwin writes for www.SchoolYourPool.com, the most complete fantasy hockey advice website on the internet. Featuring player and prospect rankings and interviews, daily starting goalies, buy low/sell high, injury reports, goalie carousel, and lots more...come on over to www.schoolyourpool.com and Get Educated!

**Mark this date: On March 4th, School Your Pool will be hosting a live chat with ‘The Professor’ at 12PM EST / 9AM PST to answer your questions about the fantasy implications of NHL Trade Deadline deals. See you there!


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