“Stunned” and “shocked” are words my friends used over and over today about the Rangers firing John Tortorella. Everyone seemed to believe he had a shot to prove this season was a fluke.
But now it’s time to pick a new coach, and everyone is throwing names around. And here’s what my heart is saying:
Is it likely? No, but it’s what my heart wants to see happen with the Rangers.
I watched Gernander play a lot of years in the AHL as captain of the Rangers top affiliate in Hartford. He was teaching guys even back then. Then he became a coach and now the head coach. If you want a guy to represent the word class, Kenny would be the guy.
Plus there’s the practical side in that Gernander has coached practically half the Rangers roster at one point or another. Callahan, Girardi, Del Zotto, Hagelin — all guys who spent some time in Hartford and played under Gernander as an assistant or now as the head coach.
And then there’s the trend around the NHL of teams promoting their AHL coach. Lots of those coaches have brought success to the big club. Why can’t it work here?
Do I realistically think Gernander will be the next Rangers coach? Nope. But that doesn’t mean I can’t root for it to happen.
The Rangers’ Ulf Dahlen with a shot — during what appears to be practice — that he failed to nail nearly a week later, against the Hartford Whalers. “That was the game,” Dahlen said after the Rangers’ 2-1 loss on March 5, 1988. Photo: Barton Silverman/The New York Times
Brodeur, who has been the Devils’ starting goalie since 1993, the backbone of the team’s three successful Stanley Cup campaigns, is the exception to this tradition of brooding and eccentricity. He’s probably the most well adjusted, happiest-seeming person I have ever met, so normal that it’s a little eerie. Jokey and gregarious, he doesn’t even mind talking to the media, though like a lot of hockey players he speaks to the press in breathless run-on sentences, like someone dashing across thin ice, fearful that if he stops, he’ll fall through.
“How Come Martin Brodeur Is Still So Good?” NYTimes (Even as a Rangers fan, this made me a bit sad - he’s been the face of the enemy my whole life, and it’ll be a bummer to see him go, whenever that happens)
I’ll miss him too, actually. My two sports villains are Chipper Jones and Marty Brodeur. One’s already retired. The other will sooner rather than later.
It was seven years ago when Marek Malik made some magic in the shootout for the Rangers. It was a shootout that went on for what seemed like an eternity that he ended with flipping the puck through his feet, causing everyone, including the announcers to go wild.
And everyone has a story about where they were when it happened. I had gone to an AHL game that night in Hartford. I dropped off my cousin’s son (who was 10 at the time, which makes me feel incredibly old since he’s now half a foot taller than me) before coming home where my mom was still up with the game on. I actually thought it was a replay of the game. Nope. It was live.
Everyone forgets Jason Strudwick’s goal that extended the shootout and set it up for Malik. And I’m happy that it happened how it did because I didn’t miss it.
But what’s amazing is that everyone has a story about where they were for Malik’s goal if they’re a Rangers fan. They were at the game screaming their heads off. They were at a bad hugging someone. It was one ofthosemoments, but it wasn’t a playoff game or anything. It was a boring, early-season hockey game.
The funny thing is that shootout goal came shortly into the first season after the lockout that lost the 2004-05 season. Now we’re in another lockout. I think in some ways the goal for Rangers fans brought us out of the lockout because it was such an exciting moment in what was an exciting season (first time they were in the playoffs in God knows how long, Jagr breaking Graves’ single-season goals record, the emergence of Lundqvist, etc.).
I just hope we get some hockey soon so we don’t have to have another moment that helps usher us out of the lockout and back to being fans and loving the game for what it is. Let’s get some hockey already.