Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Final Renney Roundup

listing the three main reasons Rangers coach Tom Renney was firedWhile Mike is still recouping from hopefully just a serious case of MSG agida let's review the end of coach clueless - a major milestone in Rangers history. Reactions to the firing of Tom Renney have been mixed across the NHL and in Rangerland.

The three main camps of thought regarding his firing are these:

  1. Renney was a winning coach and terrific guy who just didn't have the quality players and the personality to get his team to play good hockey this year. He was a victim of GM Glen Sather's poor decision making regarding the construction of the roster.

  2. Renney was a terrific coach and a decent, classy guy who brought respectability back to the Rangers. He was the victim of high paid underachieving veterans who didn't produce.

  3. Renney may be a nice guy and good defensive coach, but it was obvious that he was clueless on how to coach offensive hockey, much less build even an average powerplay. His mistreatment of Petr Prucha was criminal. He deserved to be fired for his team's poor performance on the ice.
The truth of the situation is probably a mix of the above and then some.

Mike has used the old Italian expression, "The fish stinks from the head," several times (here, here, and here) at the Ranger Pundit to indicate his displeasure with how Glen Sather (The Stealth GM) and James Dolan (The Absentee Owner) have been running the team.

Ken Campbell at The Hockey News uses a variation of that expression to illustrate Reason #1 for Renney's demise.
Campbell's Cuts: Renney takes fall for Sather's mistakes --
In fact, you could easily argue that Renney has been the best coach the Rangers have had since Colin Campbell, who last was behind the Rangers bench 11 years ago. He communicated well with the players, got the most out of many of them, including Jaromir Jagr, and instilled in the team a system of disciplined defensive play.

But the fish rots from the head down and that’s the case with the Rangers. Like most unsuccessful organizations, they are top-heavy with problems starting with a meddlesome chairman and then moving down to Sather, whose philosophy since joining the Rangers in 2000 is to throw money around and see what works.
Nathaniel Baker at Ranger Blues echoes the Renney as victim of Sather's failures (Reason #1):
Firing Renney was a cop-out and won’t help this team --
It’s a shame a guy like Tom Renney has to pay for the incompetence of others. But that’s just how things go sometimes. If at first you don’t succeed, simply blame somebody else. If that doesn’t work, fire them. That’s how GMs the world over have been doing business for eons. No reason that Glen Sather’s mantra should be any different. In almost eight years as a general manager of the Rangers, Slats has shown none of the aptitude that made him one of the most successful coaches in NHL history. Far from it, in fact.
James Mirtle also scores a Reason #1 for Renney's removal:
Rangers make Renney walk the plank --
Renney's a really nice guy and a good hockey mind, but his team this season has been brutal since a great early season stretch. New York was the best team in the NHL 13 games in at 10-2-1, but has since gone 21-21-6, an 82-point pace, and have done it by the skin of their teeth. Nine of their wins this season have come in the shootout, more than any other NHL team, and without winning those coin flips, they'd be well out of playoff position right now.

And, all the while, Renney's become more and more unpopular with the team's fan base. (They're not exactly upset right now.)

That stems back to last season, when the Blueshirts were one of the lowest-scoring teams in the league, and GM Glen Sather's ugly off-season roster makeover didn't help matters much. This is a poorly constructed team playing poorly, one with more boat anchor contracts than likely any other in the NHL...
Scott Burnside at ESPN slaps Slats (Reason #1), but adds a nice dolip of (#3).
If Renney's gone, Sather should be next --
Before we examine Monday's firing of New York Rangers coach Tom Renney, let us first ponder this question: Is there a more overrated person in the entire game of hockey than Rangers GM Glen Sather? ...

Renney deserves some of the blame, naturally. Did he do enough to coax offense from this group? Should he have used Petr Prucha more? Did he use Redden too much? Was he too stuck in using Sather's highly paid players as opposed to using lesser players who might have produced more?

Sure, those might have been contributing factors. So, yeah, go ahead, fire your coach. What better way to try to cover your own mess than by placing it at the feet of someone else...
Former Rangers player Chris Kotsopoulos puts it all on the players with a variation of Reason #2.
Rangers Lose, Fire Renney --
Tom Renney has been fired. Well, now the players have absolutely no excuse. I don't want to hear about it. It's all on them now, they have to start playing and prove their worth. It's always easy to get rid of the coach and staff - right or wrong. You can't get rid of "High Priced Under Achievers" in a salary cap league. Glen Sather probably had no choice, even though anyone who knows hockey will tell you it's all on the players...

I will say this, if you believe it was Renney's fault - you're dreaming. Players play, players skate, players hit, and in the end - players have to score. I hope they prove me wrong!
A commenter at FauxRumors also takes the players to task (Reason #2).
Finally.. Renney gets The Axe! --
Renney is a good coach, although he lost this group somewhere along the way... But objectively, does anyone actually think this is an elite or even decent team right now? Without Henrik, this is a 10 or 11 seed...

Gomez has been a total bust - 12 goals! The guy is so ineffective on a nightly basis its laughable, with his toe loops and axels... Redden's skills have diminished to a point where he isn't a top 6 d-man on a good team... Naslund is a shell of his prior self, as is Drury, who has NEVER been a front line forward... Dubinsky has been ravaged by the soph jinx and Staal is looking every bit his 20 years lately... Its obvious that Renney is the victim of these circumstances... He will get another NHL job, as he knows the game quite well...
The Hockey Rodent takes out his scalpel and dissects the clueless one's demise - mostly self inflicted (Reason #3):
You Bet Your Job - Part 1 --
I'm thinking those two bench minor penalties were the proverbial straws which broke the llama's back. And I'll tell you why.

Dis-ir-regardless what Renney would have you believe, those mistakes were not the fault of any player, be he dressed or a healthy scratch...

But if Perry Pearn is indeed the architect of NYR's anemic power play since the lockout... and if his continued presence the past 18 months was due to fierce loyalty by Renney when Pearn clearly deserved to be sacked, then Tom can look at Pearn as one of the anchored chains which dragged the dapper bench boss below sea level...
Stan Fischler at MSG works on the new party line. Change was needed. Renney let things get away from him. Tom went from 'Terrific' to expendable in 24 hours (a soft Reason #3). Stan can never knock anyone at MSG.
Sather Charts New Rangers Future --
Sather seemed as perplexed as anyone over the fact that the Seventh Avenue skaters looked like a sleek, well-oiled machine in the early going and then just about everything went wrong.

I asked him if he could pinpoint what that "something" was when he declared that "something happened."

"I don't have any conclusive answer," he replied. "We lost our zip. Maybe it was an earlier game with Toronto when we blew a two-goal lead late in the game; or possibly a loss to Washington. In any event, we all have to take responsibility." ...
Inferno at Rangers Review wanted to go on the record and make it clear that Renney was clueless and had to go (a solid #3).
Ill go on record, Im HAPPY the guy is gone. Good bye, see you later, dont let the door hit you on the way out.

People are confusing his classy nature with his ability to coach, and I see a major distinction there.

In my personal opinion, Tom Renney was a HIGHLY overrated coach here who had rode the coat tails of Jaromir Jagr these past years. Without Jagr his complete ineptitude behind the bench really showed in spades...
Renney had control of his own destiny. It was well past time for him to be ushered off the MSG stage to polite applause. We can only hope the 'sanitized soft' team that Torts is inheriting can turn over a new leaf.

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  • lindyhops said...

    All of the comments cited above are valid Hockey reasons (players, how they played and acquisirions, etc) for the demise of Messrs Renny & Pearn.
    However, overlooked is a purely financial reason. In a week or so Invoices will go out to season subscribers for playoff tickets and all that revenue up front.
    Ranger hierarchy (Dolan, Sather, etc) feared a fan revolt and felt they had (1) to act before the trade deadline and (2) before playoff invoices wnt out.

  • jb said...

    An excellent point that I had not considered or seen mentioned by others.

    The economic/financial backdrop certainly colors every decision a team makes these days. The Rangers are not immune from taking big hit if the fans decide to tighten their budgets.

    I am anxious to hear what Mike said to Glen 'Slats' Sather on that elevator ride down after Sunday's loss. Mike as a life long Rangers fan may have strongly expressed his "everyfan" opinion that he was fed up with Renney hockey and would not pay for any more of it. Was that perhaps the last straw?

  • blow-me-down said...

    Lots of good opinions from the fine folks quoted above. I didn't actually have to read Fischler's, I magically knew what he would say without even looking.

    So much analysis of Renney. Crazy waste of time. The product on the ice was stinking it up, how could you net let him go? Classy he is, and a genuinely good man, but I fail to see any relevance in that.

    Looking forward to a bench that crackles with energy. Let the chips fall where they may, but this is a good move for NYR. Sather should be raised to the rafters for this!

  • blow-me-down said...

    One thing I thought of was how Mike may have seen Glen and yelled out something like "Hey Genius", from that moment on having Sather at his beck and call.

    Just a theory.

  • jb said...

    Fischler does a nice soft shoe around anyone and everyone who is employed at MSG. It's gotten a little old to keep refering to him as the 'Craven' Maven, but it is true. However, if you want to hold on to a great job you do what you gotta do. I guess if I ever got to be on-air 'talent' who got to go to every game for free and hang out with the players and coaches I would quickly learn to keep my tongue in check.

    If you want to chat up a player or coach one day you can't very well throw them under the bus the day before. So Stan is what he is, a PR flack, who tries to spin things in a pro-MSG fashion.

    This afternoon the hospital said Mike was still in the ER so I'm still waiting to talk to him. I know his frustration level has been rising and seeing the Stealthy One and having him cornered must made his day.