It’s never easy firing a coach. And now it may be time for the Rangers to change leadership behind the bench. After last night’s loss in St. Louis, things may have gotten to the point where Tom Renney’s time has come and gone.
No matter what the coach’s future will be, the Rangers need to do the right thing. Instead of letting “Renney Watch” hang over the team for a weeks, they need to make a decision and live with it. Either let Renney go and replace him with another coach – most likely being assistant general manager Jim Schoenfeld – or publically announce that Renney is the Rangers coach for the rest of the season and live with the decision.
Any other move will lead to continued speculation, negative chants from the Garden rafters, and ultimately more losses, since the players will become more tuned out to their coach.
Last summer we saw this with the Mets decision on Willie Randolph. Instead of giving their manager the thumbs up or ultimate dismissal, the team waivered, until being put in a position where firing him made him a sympathetic figure. Randolph was let go on the west coast after managing the Mets to a win. After being fired after the game, the press release came out at 3:17 a.m. Eastern Time. All that did was manage to infuriate the media, because it was missed in the morning papers, while keeping many sports writers up the night trying to get the story on the websites.
If the Mets made a quick decision on Randolph, it could be argued the team would have made the playoffs in 2008. Instead of 30 days of questions about their manager, the players would have moved on, and you would think the team would have one a few more games.
This is why the Rangers need to make a quick decision. As “Renney Watch” intensifies and more and more non -hockey reporters come to the Garden, the players will get questions about the status of their coach, which will probably translate to more losses on the ice, as the inquisitions will weigh upon them. The only way of stopping this vicious cycle will be when general manager Glen Sather or Garden chairman James Dolan makes a public announcement about the status of Renney.
Besides, Renney deserves better than twisting in the wind. Starting right before the lockout, the coach has brought dignity and grace back to the franchise. He has been the face of the organization, while Sather sat back on his high perch, shunning the public spotlight. The coach of the Rangers needs to be treated the same way he treated everyone he encountered as coach of the Blueshirts.
That’s why the Garden needs to do something. They need to say Renney is their man or put someone in whom they will stand behind. They can’t let Renney stand out there naked to take abuse from the New York crowd. It would be wrong, could torpedo the Rangers season, and ultimately makes Dolan and Sather look like fools.