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.”

Nash on Tortorella call: “He seemed really intense”

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Rick Nash spent the last few days getting familiar with his new surroundings. He was a guest instructor at a Rangers’ youth hockey camp, went out for dinner with Brad Richards and made plans to go house-hunting in the Big Apple.

Oh yeah, he also spoke with his new coach.

Andrew Gross of the Bergen Record caught up with Nash on Thursday and learned No. 61’s first call with John Tortorella was…passionate.

“[Tortorella] called me right after the deal went down,” Nash said. “He seemed really intense but he seemed really helpful.

“From what I understand, he’s a very demanding and tough guy to play for and he really preaches hard work. That’s what you expect from a coach, that’s what you want.”

While  no specifics were revealed, the call probably involved some talk of line combos, specifically the one most New York fans dream about — a first line with Nash, Richards and last year’s leading goalscorer, Marian Gaborik.

The Slovakian sniper is out until December after shoulder surgery, but Gross noted Tortorella “could put the three All-Stars together” when Gaborik returns to full health.

That’s fine with Nash, who added he can play either left or right wing.

“I like both for different reasons,” he said. “Left, I like coming out of my own end with my stick protecting me. And right, I like having my stick in the middle to shoot and protecting the puck.”

Colorado signs John Mitchell…Carkner to follow?

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The Colorado Avalanche kicked off free agency by adding some grit — we’re just not sure how much.

Within the opening hour of the frenzy, the club announced it had reached agreements with former Rangers center John Mitchell and ex-Ottawa tough guy Matt Carkner.

(More on Carkner in a sec.)

TSN’s Darren Dreger reports Mitchell received a two-year, $2.2 million dollar deal from the Avs, representing a nice pay bump from the $650,000 he made last year.

The 27-year-old — who fell out of favor in Toronto — found his groove under John Tortorella, scoring 5G-11A-16PTS in 63 games in a largely checking/defensive role with the Rangers. That said, Mitchell does have some offensive upside and saw time on the New York power play a season ago.

The situation with Carkner has gotten confusing. While the Avalanche tweeted they’d agreed to terms with the 31-year-old tough guy, Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun reports there’s no deal in place (this according to agent Larry Kelly.)

It appears Carkner is mulling the decision over with his family, which makes sense. He’s been with Ottawa since the 2008-09 season and has many ties to the area.