With the Olympics coming up in February this year in Vancouver, countries are beginning to get teams together and trying to figure out who will be on the team. One of the people who will be helping determine this is New York Rangers head coach John Tortorella who is an assistant coach from Team USA.
Jeff Klein from the New York Times caught up with Torts at the camp and asked a few questions that seemed interesting. You can read the full article here.
Concerning the newest Ranger, Vaclav Prospal, Tortorella believes "He’s ticked off. He was bought out. He has something to prove here. I think it’s a good situation on a one-year deal, and show us maybe for when another contract comes around. Some other people in the organization need to understand that too".
When a player has motivation it is often when they play at their best. Being bought out by Tampa seems to have lit a fire in Vinny Prospal and he is really looking to prove to teams in the NHL that they should not have passed up on him. Being under a coach that Prospal knows well and having a player that Torts knows how to get the best out of is a combination that can only lead to positive results.
On what the Rangers will be working on in training camp: "That’s where we can establish what our mindset is going to be, conditioning, which I think is a weakness of our club. As I’ve said, and I make no bones about it, I don’t think we’re a stiff team mentally. I think we have to be a little bit tougher in that area, in mental parts and preparation.”
Coach Tortorella has mentioned this in interviews from earlier in the offseason and continues to reiterate a mental softness to this team. Softness has been a concern by many fans over the last few years and the Rangers finally have a coach who will be trying to address this. While Tom Renney was big on conditioning, Tortorella will bring a whole new level to the Rangers, a team that will be playing a very aggressive system which will require a superior level of conditioning. Hopefully having a conditioning regimen such as this will help keep the Rangers a consistent team this season rather than fizzling out in the middle of the year and then coming back strong towards the end.
When it comes to who will be on what lines, "No one’s locked into any positions — people are going to earn their time, they’re always going to have to earn their time. Even if they get some, if they don’t keep on going they may get moved around a little bit. I think that makes it into more of a hard-type situation. This is a hard game. I just think we’re soft mentally, and I think we have to grow in that area."
This is what will make training camp so interesting. A combination of having such a different team and no one having a guaranteed position is what will make the players be more motivated this camp more than any other in recent memory. It has been made known that young players will have a chance to make the team and play key roles during the season. With so many new faces Ranger fans and the coaching staff are unfamiliar with how young guys like Enver Lisin and Brian Boyle play on a day to day basis, making it a very open training camp where every single position is open to anyone...except of course the starting goaltender position.
And as many Ranger fans are ready for the season, so is the head coach. "I’m ready to go — I’ve been ready to go for a couple of months now. I just want to get up to New York. Next week I’m going to be there and get going."
To be honest, not being excited as a Ranger fan this season would be a shock to me. New system, new players, new team. Then again you wouldn't be a Ranger fan if there was not some kind of doubt nagging at your emotions no matter how excited you may be.