That skill-and-finesse game so many teams adjusted to has been trumped by the quick and heavy manner in which the Boston Bruins and Los Angeles Kings take teams out of their comfort zones. It’s the biggest intangible out there.
“With the personnel sitting there in Vancouver, Lindy is a very good fit,” said a high-level NHL source. “You’re not going to teach those horses a new way to play and Lindy’s teams — sometimes to a fault — play on their toes and put a lot of bodies into the offensive zone, and the players in Vancouver would really enjoy that.
“The teams that win, their best players have to be the most competitive.”
Nill talked to former Rangers coach John Tortorella as part of his trip to the NHL GM meetings in Boston Wednesday and is expected to speak soon with Grand Rapids Griffins (just-crowned AHL champs) coach Jeff Blashill.
Sather somewhat danced around the issue of whether or not players had complaints about Tortorella. The 69-year-old GM knew that the Rangers’ style of play needed to evolve to contend with other top NHL teams, or in his words, “the game has changed.”
“If you look at these playoff games (like the Stanley Cup Finals matchup) you’re gonna see tonight, the style that they play, I mean there’s not a hell of a lot of dump-ins,” Sather said. “I mean, (if) you have to dump the puck in, you have to dump it. But there’s a lot of puck control and hanging onto the puck and moving the puck out, and there’s not stopping behind the net to gain control. There’s a lot of things that are done differently than what we were doing. So you have to look at the style of play. That had a lot to do with (the decision to fire Tortorella), too.”
Sather also noted this: “I think you’ve got to remember that people have egos, and they have a strong sense of their own worth when they’re doing their job or they do a good job,” Sather said, giving his perception of why Tortorella may have been shocked at the firing. “And you have seven or eight playoff rounds in a couple years. I mean, he was pretty successful. He’s a good coach. (But) I think the game has changed.”
LUNDQVIST: COACH WON’T IMPACT MY CONTRACT
While we’re on the subject of John Tortorella, franchise goaltender Henrik Lundqvist brushed aside any speculation he was behind the firing of the Rangers’ head coach. In fact, he gave a glowing return on Tortorella. Via email with the New York Post, here’s a taste of Lundqvist offered:
“I know there is some speculation regarding Torts being fired, but let’s be clear on one thing,” Lundqvist said via an e-mail on Wednesday that contained his first comments on the matter. “It’s not my call who the coach should be for the New York Rangers.
“I would never put pressure on the management on decisions like that. I’m just a player. My focus is to play the game and do the best I can on the ice. Whatever [happens] off the ice, I leave to our great staff we have working for this club.”
Lundqvist further clarified his position regarding an extension.
“It has no impact for me on who the coach is when it comes to my contract,” the 31-year-old told The Post. “I love everything about the New York Rangers. I love the fans. I love the organization. I hope we can work something out when it is time to do so.”
Father Tie Domi, who enjoyed a 16-year NHL career, noted this: “I always believed diabetes wasn’t going to stop him from becoming what he wanted to become. He’s a long ways away from where he wants to get, but he’s put himself in a pretty good position so far.”
The younger Domi also ran into a number of his father’s friends, who are now working for NHL teams, during the recent scouting combine interviews.
“When you get the feedback on how he did in his interviews, I can’t even describe the feeling,” Tie Domi said. “What I can say is it was one of the most emotional, proud moments of my entire life — seeing my son cherish the sport that’s been so good to me and for our family. I think what he’s doing now, as a Type 1 diabetic — it’s tough to describe how to explain it, really.
“I think it’s important to really let people know. It can’t stop you from your dreams.”
But one of his former youth coaches, Angelo Ricci of the Colorado Thunderbirds, said this about the situation: “There are four quality picks in this draft, so the teams selecting 1-4 will be getting a very good player. Some might be more NHL ready than others, but I believe they will all be impact players down the road.
“Seth is a franchise D-man. At this point of the process, keeping all options open can be very beneficial for the Avs.”
As if the relocation wasn’t enough, the Lightning in March took coach Jon Cooper and through the course of the season many of the team’s top players for various lengths of time.
As for how this season, and last season’s Calder Cup run, will affect the Tampa Bay organization, Julien BriseBois, general manager of AHL Syracuse and the Lightning’s assistant GM, was adamant.
“The volume of high-level and highly competitive games that our prospects have been able to play will do two things,” he said. “(The players) are going to get to the NHL sooner than they would have had we not had these two runs. I think it’s going to turn them into better players. They know how to close out games. They know how to play playoff hockey and win, and in that context, and that experience, from an emotional and psychological approach, translates whether you’re trying to win at the NHL or AHL level. If you can compete on the ice in terms of speed and execution and skill at the AHL level, what you learn about how to win will translate to the NHL level. It’s an invaluable experience that our prospects went through and it bodes well for the future.”