When John Tortorella is brimming with livid frustration, he becomes the hockey coach equivalent of Andrew Dice Clay: a purveyor of profane poetry, only without the Diceman's intricate rhyming scheme.
Such was the case after the New York Rangers embarrassed themselves, their coach, their fans and the sweater with an absolute clunker against their alleged rivals the New York Islanders. Tortorella lit into his team in one of those trademark tirades that earns the Rangers airtime on SportsCenter for the wrong reasons.
Miraculously, the Rangers' official site doesn't have video of Torts after the Islanders loss; maybe their "bleep" button was malfunctioning. But Andrew Gross of Rangers Rants transcribed his remarks, using the time-honored Sunday comics tradition of using random characters to paraphrase the obscenities (UPDATE: Video after the jump):
What's the remedy for the way the team started in the first period: "What is the remedy? I don't know how you want me to answer that."
What do you think you need to do: "Play ^#(^&@ harder."
As the coach, what do you need to do: "That'll be something we'll decide before tomorrow's game."
Is this group capable of figuring it out as constituted: "I'll tell you right now, the thing that's unacceptable about tonight's game and we're trying to stay positive around here, trying to work our way through it, but when we play like ^*^#@ like that for 20 minutes in a game like this in a back-to-back situation, it's unacceptable. I'm not even going back as far as a month and are we capable. It's simply unacceptable. There has to be something done and we'll see along the way before tomorrow night's game. We'll see where we go with them. It's just simply unacceptable how we started that game. I wish I could give you a ($@#*%# explanation about it. I can't."
Then the coach "got up to leave, knocking his chair out of the way with more ferocity than most of his players threw hits in the game," wrote Chris Botta on FanHouse.
The Rangers started the season 7-1 and in first place of the Atlantic Division. Since then, they're 7-15-3 and are now in last place. Like their coach, Rangers players and Blueshirt fans are searching for answers ... only with slightly less colorful language. Can the Blueshirts turn it around, or is Torts raging over a losing battle?
UPDATE: Eric from 5-Hole sends over coverage of the Torts presser:
Here's Al Trautwig and Dave Maloney breaking down the Islanders/Rangers game:
The lack of respect for the Islanders and the lack of competitive fire for most of the game are echoed throughout the postgame coverage for the Rangers. Blueshirt Banter saw exactly one player giving the sort of effort fans are demanding to see:
Sean Avery tried to get the Rangers emotionally involved as soon as the second period started, mixing it up with Hillen, then again later in the second period. The Rangers need more of this, every night. Ranger fans have begged, pleaded, prodded this team to show emotion, to play with urgency and intensity. It has to come from more players than just Sean Avery, but he just doesn't seem to be getting through to his teammates.
The blog also mentioned Rangers' fans ire over GM Glen Sather, who has gone from The Man Who Showed Marian Gaborik Was Worth The Money to the bumbling fuddy-duddy who left the team's rear guard softer than Charmin. Which is to say that after Matt Gilroy played his way to Hartford and Michael Del Zotto came back to the pack in the Calder race, the Rangers' defense has been the problem everyone thought it would be this season. (Though Del Zotto's season has still been outstanding overall.)
Now that the Rangers don't have the puck the way they did the first few weeks of the season, Redden is regressing to last season. Rozsival has had a couple of marginally better performances since last Wednesday in Chicago, but he won't touch a soul.
It would seem impossible for a coach to preach accountability while dressing this pair of soft veterans every night. It would seem impossible to jump-start a moribund offense by continuing to go to the Drury Well that, at least for the moment, seems to have run inexplicably dry.
Tortorella talked tough last night. Guess what? Renney talked tough, Ron Low talked tough and so did John Muckler, Colin Campbell and Sather himself when he was behind the bench. They talked tough but coached easy.
Brooks has sold this line for weeks: That Tortorella needs to be bolder, more aggressive; to be the "Safe Is Death" coach he was for the Tampa Bay Lightning. To have the stones to reduce Chris Drury's ice time to something that doesn't befit a team captain. To do the same with other marquee players who are floundering. To do what it takes to get an offense going that's being outscored by the Phoenix Coyotes this season.
What the hell happened to the team that blogger Jason Lemel on iSports called "a run and gun group that never settles with what they’ve done" back in October?
Brooks also asks rhetorically if the Rangers have tuned out their coach, and is correct in saying they haven't "earned" that right. Scotty Hockey floats the same idea in his frustrated coverage of last night's game:
While I mentioned here that I thought Tortorella had lost the team several weeks back, NYR34 suggested that they played as bad as they did tonight in an outright effort to get him ousted. I have to believe, for my own sake, that a team never intentionally tanks like that (unless there is a future top draft pick hanging in the balance). But make no mistake, this team didn't play for their coaches tonight. They didn't play for each other. And they certainly didn't play for the fans.
The Rangers play the Islanders at Nassau tonight and then the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday. There is a chance to save face, change the conversation, begin the revival. Torts talked big, but what does it mean? Playing Bobby Sanguinetti? Benching Michal Rozsival? Benching Chris Drury? Finding the cruel bastard who kidnapped Christopher Higgins and replaced him with a malfunctioning android version of Martin Rucinsky?
All due respect to Tortorella -- and frankly, after the job he did to rescue last season's Rangers, he deserves some -- but no amount of poopy-mouthed tirades are going to change the fact that this roster makes this much money. That's not a problem laid on the coach; it's a problem for the man upstairs.