VANCOUVER, British Columbia - It takes time to evaluate a player trade. The same goes for head coaches.
A rare "swap" of NHL coaches occurred last summer, with John Tortorella and Alain Vigneault being fired and then hired to replace each other in Vancouver and in New York.
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So it was only natural, on the eve of the first regular-season game here between the Rangers (42-30-4 and headed for the playoffs) and the Canucks (34-31-11, five points out of the wild card) to ask for Tortorella's assessment. And in classic bluntness, Tortorella, who is getting hammered in the media here, offered this:
"What is fair? You guys are going to make your opinions and talk about it because it's kind of a unique thing that happened with Alain and I, and I get that. We're losing games, so I'm the idiot, and he's winning games, so he's the smart guy, and rightfully so. When you lose games and you struggle, you're going to get scrutinized and that's part of the business. And I should be scrutinized."
Although he denied that he closely follows the Rangers, given his own team's issues and the three-hour time difference, Tortorella said Martin St. Louis, who played for him in Tampa, will prove his value and credited the Rangers with finding ways to fill the gap left by the trade of Ryan Callahan.
"I haven't seen [St. Louis] play," Tortorella said. "I know it was a bit of a crazy time for him, with what was going on with the Olympics and this and that. He's a good friend of mine. We texted a couple times; I haven't talked to him since the trade. But I would venture to guess that when it starts being the real deal, I think he's going to be a pretty good player for you."
Asked if it surprised him to see a Rangers team without Callahan, he said: "It does, yeah. He was my captain. We spent a lot of time together. We played in Tampa, and the [uniform] didn't look right. I give the team a tremendous amount of credit. That's a big hole to fill, not only on the ice but in the room too, but they still found their way with Marty struggling. We're going to have our hands full.''
McCarthy agrees to terms. Forward Chris McCarthy, 22, who had 18 goals and 42 points in 38 games for the University of Vermont this season, has agreed to terms on a contract. But the Rangers are at the maximum 50 players under contract, so he will report to AHL Hartford as an amateur tryout.