Tom Renney didn't pay two second-line centers top-line money. Tom Renney didn't sign underachieving defenseman Wade Redden for six years and $39 million. It's not Tom Renney's fault there isn't anyone to run the point on the Rangers power play or who can consistently score goals.
But on Monday morning, the former Rangers coach paid the price. He was fired by New York GM Glen Sather, the architect of this poorly constructed Rangers team.
"I think we all have to take responsibility for this," Sather said during a Monday evening conference call.
Evidently, some more than others.
It's hard to find a move Sather has made recently that has panned out. The Redden contract is a disaster, with some people speculating that the Rangers would be better off burying Redden in the minors than having him eat up cap space.
Neither of the high-profile centers signed in 2007, Chris Drury and Scott Gomez, have performed up to the big money they received from Sather. The franchise is still looking to replace the goal-scoring that left with Jaromir Jagr and Brendan Shanahan.
"The whole thing isn't put together well," an NHL scout told Sporting News Today.
But even in his failure to build the up-tempo, puck possession team he promised this summer, Sather might emerge from this mess better than we think.
To paraphrase Harry Dunne: Just when you think the Rangers couldn't get any dumber, they totally redeem themselves.
John Tortorella is the man who can redeem the Rangers.
In hiring the Stanley Cup winning coach, Sather has salvaged what was dangerously close to becoming a lost season.
Among the many complaints about the sinking Rangers is that the team lacked leadership and fire. With Tortorella's multi-year deal, those issues are immediately fixed.
"I think that Torts is going to bring a lot more fire to his game with his approach," Sather said. "I just felt like we needed to get more fire in there."
Despite his player personnel blunders, Sather deserves credit for making the perfect hire. If any of the players took advantage of Renney's thoughtful, classy coaching style, they'll get the full wrath of Tortorella, who is good friends with Renney.
Nobody's playing time is guaranteed. Tortorella doesn't care who just got the big free-agent payday and who was just called up from Hartford. Those who play within the team framework will get icetime. Those who don't, will sit.
"These guys are in for an awakening," said former Lightning GM Jay Feaster, who won a Stanley Cup in Tampa with Tortorella as his head coach. "The leadership of the hockey club, Drury and Gomez, will embrace Torts in a big way. Torts will find a way to get to Redden. I think they will be a playoff team."
Sather thinks so too. He said there are players on the current Rangers roster who thrived in the past under intense head coaches like Tortorella.
He needs those players to thrive again. His legacy as Rangers GM depends on it.
"I think that some of the players I brought in are better than they've performed up to date," Sather said. "Moving forward, I'd like to think we've made the right change."
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Rangers react to coaching change
Feb. 23: Chris Drury and other Rangers leaders talk about the firing of Tom Renney and how they hope to move forward.
Video: NHL from NBC Sports
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Feb. 22: Mike Milbury and Pierre McGuire discuss why moves behind the bench are made.