Tortorella: Kreider might need more time in AHL

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Forward Chris Kreider enjoyed a storybook 2011-12 campaign.

He won the NCAA Championship with Boston College and then joined the New York Rangers for their run to the Eastern Conference finals. Along the way, Kreider broke an NHL record by scoring five goals before playing in his first regular season contest.

At the same time, Rangers coach John Tortorella said that the 21-year-old was “God awful” in some of those playoff contests and just three games into the Rangers’ campaign, there’s talk of sending Kreider to AHL Connecticut.

“That’s something we have to really talk about as an organization because I still think he needs to go through the process,” Tortorella said. “What’s best for Chris and us, we have to make a decision there because I don’t want him in a situation here, with the scrutiny on this club, hurting him as far as the process.”

Tortorella bluntly added that “he has not played well and he knows that.”

The coach has seen players in similar situations fail because they were asked to do too much, too fast and then never come back from that.

“I do not want to see that happen to him,” Tortorella said. “He has too many assets.”

Kreider has no points and a minus-two rating while averaging just 9:22 minutes this season.

Tortorella critiques Kreider: He was “God awful” in some playoff games

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No doubt about it, Chris Kreider made a splash with the New York Rangers during the 2012 playoffs. Teams don’t send their assistant GMs to “camp out” for just any player, after all.

It doesn’t appear that he’s a lock to make the team’s roster right out of training camp, however.

Tortorella told the New York Daily News on Monday that the young forward is still fighting to make the team’s roster, but the most entertainment came in how he described Kreider’s need for defensive improvement.

“It’s part of it, but it’s his whole game,” Tortorella said. “He’s still young, he’s a kid that came in and played some really good games and then was God awful in some games during the playoffs. And that’s what you expect out of a kid. So we want him to work at all parts of his game, and then we’ll see where it goes from there.”

Torts went on to praise his “gift of skating,” so it’s not like he was merely negative about the Boston College alum.

For what it’s worth, Kreider seems to agree that he’s not a sure thing.

“I don’t feel settled,” Kreider said. “I’m not proven, but I feel like I’m pushing myself. I’m not settled. I like that, though.”

Tortorella isn’t known for making it easy on anyone, really, so Kreider should probably get used to the challenge.

Tortorella takes less intense approach to short camp

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In light of the unique circumstances that the lockout has resulted in, Rangers coach John Tortorella didn’t start training camp with intense conditioning drills. Instead he broke from his typical early training camp routine by having a scrimmage, Newsday reported.

“We don’t want to injure them,” Tortorella said. “If we did the amount of work that we did in a regular camp on our first day today, we wouldn’t be able to play.

“I’m relying on the players, the leadership group each day to just let me know how they feel. It’s a different dynamic this year.”

When asked if he had to coach differently early on this season, Tortorella admitted that he wasn’t sure.

“I just need to see what the team looks like when we start,” Tortorella said. He later added, “To me there’s no blueprint.”

Even still, Tortorella isn’t about to go too easy on his players.

“He’s not going to let you miss a beat out there,” Ryan McDonagh said. “Any kind of correction, Coach is going to let you know about it right away.”

Before the lockout, the Rangers looked like a serious contender for the Stanley Cup. They had the best record in the Eastern Conference last season, made it all the way to the Conference finals, and acquired Rick Nash during the off-season.

The lockout hasn’t changed that, as evidenced by the fact that they have the second best odds to win the Stanley Cup. All the same, the shortened season reduces each team’s margin for error and Tortorella knows that better than most.

Tortorella was an assistant coach with the Buffalo Sabres during the shortened 1994-95 campaign. The team lost Pat LaFontaine and Dale Hawerchuk for significant chunks of the season en route to a first round exit.

It’s a safe bet that he doesn’t want history to repeat itself.

If you want to watch his full press conference, you can do so below:

Video: Tortorella reflects on recent Hurricane Sandy relief efforts

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John Tortorella can be a bit terse – especially following a playoff hockey game – but he went fairly in-depth while discussing the Hurricane Sandy relief efforts he helped to provide on Nov. 29.

Blueshirts United’s Jim Cerny reports that Tortorella gathered with New York Rangers alumni Dave Maloney, Adam Graves, Rod Gilbert, Ron Greschner, and Gilles Villemure to aid those affected by the storm.

Here’s video of Tortorella’s reactions.

 

Tortorella on lockout slowing Rangers’ momentum: “To be quite honest, it worries me”

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John Tortorella enjoyed great success last season, his fourth at the Rangers’ helm. The team won 50-plus games for the first time and made it to the conference finals for the first second time since capturing the Stanley Cup in 1994.

But today, he’s worried that success might all go for naught.

That’s what Torts explained to the New York Post on Wednesday, saying he fears the lockout could curb his club’s momentum.

“To be quite honest, it worries me,” Tortorella said. “When our guys report to camp in September under normal circumstances, they have a physical and mental edge from preparing for our testing that’s extremely important to the way we go about our business as a hockey club.

“There’s a mindset from this group, a mindset from the New York Rangers that defines us and factors into everything we do,” he continued. “And I know the guys are trying their best to stay at it, but it worries me that they’ve lost that mindset.”

Several factors play into this line of thinking.

— Only three Rangers have found work during the lockout: Rick Nash (Switzerland), Carl Hagelin (Swedish Div. 2) and Ryan McDonagh (KHL).

— Down in AHL Connecticut, Chris Kreider is the only legit roster candidate worth watching. (To that end, Tortorella told The Post that “none of the kids is really playing well,” with the Whale.)

— The 30-and-over set (Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik, Henrik Lundqvist, Mike Rupp) aren’t playing at all.

The end result? An aging roster that’s been largely inactive since being eliminated by the Devils on May 25.

Yet even with those concerns, Tortorella still has high expectations of his club…for whenever hockey starts back up.

“The one thing we have to make sure of as a franchise is that we do not allow this interruption to hurt our momentum,” Tortorella said. “We cannot use this as an excuse.”