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Bless This Mess

Bless This Mess

The New York Rangers have fired John Tortorella.  I, along with many friends were shocked at this.  Not that Tortorella getting fired, no, he deserved that.  He may have even deserved it last year.  More shocked at the timing.  I was certain that Torts was getting a pass this year because of the lockout.  Which would have lead us to watching another year of Henrik Lundquist losing games 2-1.  Another year of losing guys for two weeks because they took a puck to the face.  Another year of shitty power play, shitty offense and guys hanging on to the puck for 15 seconds waiting for the perfect shot.

The people that promote him, point to his winning the Cup in Tampa Bay.  Which was impressive.

It was also ten years ago.

The people that promote him, point to his curt attitude with the media, as a function of his intensity and focus.  And how that resonates with fans.

It doesn’t.

He bullies a writer.  What a winner.

You see, Bill Bellichick can be a complete dick to the media if he wanted to.  He could answer every question the Globe asks him with a smiling “Go Fuck Yourself” and he’d get away with it.  Because he won.

In New York, Tortorella’s team had a tendency to come up short.  And in New York if you ain’t won, you ain’t here.

And John Tortorella, you ain’t won.  So you ain’t here.


But who replaces him?

It’s a prestige job by nature of being in New York, at the Garden and with the media accolades that you can get for winning.

It’s high pressure.  High work volume.  High Anxiety.

It has to be a winner.  A winner with a pedigree.  A winner with a pedigree that can embrace the spotlight.


The rumors are swirling that the Captain himself is interested.

No, No.  Not This one.


Mark Messier.

The First One!


Though he has no head coaching experience, he is a special assistant to GM Glen Sather.  He is a star, in a star driven city.  He is fawned over by the media.  He cries at the drop of a hat.

He’s perfect.


Except he isn’t.


Mark Messier might be the worst pick for a head coach whose name doesn’t rhyme with Blaine Schmetsky.


Here is why:

He has no Head Coaching Experience:

For all of his greatness, Mark Messier has never worked inside the bench while wearing a suit.  He hasn’t been an assistant coach.  He may know hockey, he may be one of the great leaders in any sport, but New York is not the most polite place for on the job training.


The Honeymoon won’t last:

Messier is loved in New York.  He may even get a full season out of, “well, it’s Mess, let’s give him some time” from the media.  But eventually the results will have to be there.  The results have to be better than his predecessor.  Which means he has to take over a team that advanced to the second round and get them to the conference finals or beyond.  Otherwise, firing Tortorella was unnecessary.  So what happens after a season when the Rangers drop 6 straight and only come up with 2 points.  Think the media will just let it slide?  Think they’ll keep softballing him questions?  It’ll get ugly.


You cant teach what he knows:

What all time greats made great Head Coaches?  You can’t use Bill Russell because Bill Russell got to coach Bill Russell.  Beyond X’s and O’s, which he no doubt knows, what can he teach?  You can’t coach “Go be awesome like me” and “Why aren’t you over there, I’d be over there!”  That’s the issue with great players becoming coaches.  Very few players get to that level.  It’s rarefied air.  You have players that can’t reach the expectations placed on them.  A Head Coach who can’t lead with actions like he did as a player.  It’s a recipe for disaster.



It could hurt his legacy:

Messier is one of the greats to ever lace up skates.  Full disclosure, if I was starting a team, I would take him over Gretzky.  I understand Gretzky is “The Great One” and was the Jordan of the NHL.  But Messier won without him.  Twice.  I’m a fan.

If Messier gets the job there are a few scenarios that can play out.

1) He could lead them to a cup.  Which would cement his legacy and reputation and guarantee that he never pays for any meal in New York City for life.

2) He leads them to some playoffs appearances but nothing particularly special.  Becoming an ugly footnote to his career.  “Yeah Messier was great, but remember when he coached the Rangers and they weren’t any good.”

3) He misses the playoffs or exits the playoffs early to lower seeded teams a few years in a row.  He gets fired.  Publicly.  Think about that.  Because coaches rarely get to retire.  They get fired.  And when they get fired it’s because their team sucks.

So think about this, it’s almost guaranteed that Mark Messier will be publicly fired by the team he carried to a Stanley Cup victory because the team is bad.


I hope I’m wrong.

I hope that Messier gets the job and rolls off a string of success that the Rangers have never seen.

I hope he bucks the trend and becomes a legend as a coach and a player.

In other words, The Anti-Me


I just don’t think I will be.


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Carlo is a NY based writer and performer.  He would legitimately take Messier over Gretzky.