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.”