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: