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Renney Days of Winter

In the seven seasons before Tom Renney took over as head coach of the New York Rangers, they failed to make the postseason, and never mustered more than 80 points.

In Renney's three full seasons as head coach, the Rangers managed at least 90 points in each instance, and made the playoffs on each occasion.

With the Rangers in sinking-ship mode, they fired Renney earlier this week, the first of two walk-off moves by the MSG suits, with Stephon Marbury's buyout being the other.

Marbury was rightfully shown the door. He hit the equivalent of a grand slam. In his time with the Knicks, he wrecked

* Head coaches
* Executives
* Ownership
* and the fan base

Renney was wrongfully let go. His misfortune was being the victim of unfair expectations and lousy upper management.

In each of the past three postseasons, the Rangers lost to a team that was better than them. And they were legitimately better than the pair of teams whom they beat. You could say that the Rangers didn't overachieve, but they didn't underachieve either. They achieved just right, which after so many years of embarasssment, was perfectly acceptable to this fan.

This past offseason, the Rangers lost Brendan Shanahan, Jaromir Jagr, among others, which in Metsian terms was the equivalent of letting Msrs. Hernandez and Strawberry walk away. They traded and signed players who were either old or inconsistent, which put Renney in a rather unfair position.

WFAN's Steve Sommers likened Renney to Art Howe, noting how the two were similar in postgame commentary and mild-mannered nature. I don't buy that there are any other similarities.

I never got the impression that Art Howe wanted to be here, that he was simply a Met for the money. Tom Renney was a part of the Rangers for nearly nine years. If he didn't want to be here, he wouldn't have been here.

Steve Serby of the New York Post did a Q&A with Renney about a month ago that I didn't get to read until just a few minutes ago. He talked about his love of New York City, tied to his presence there on September 11, 2001. He talked about sometimes taking a moment when he was behind the bench to be wowed by the fact that this was the team he was coaching. When asked what he wanted Rangers fans to remember most about him, he said "He cared."

One of my favorite Tom Renney memories is from Opening Night of either last season, or this one. Right before the Rangers took the ice, you could hear Renney's voice over the public address system, a taped speech about playing with pride, and understanding what it meant to be a New York Ranger.

It came across very true, and from the heart, at least to me. Now the Rangers bring in a coach who is a bit more fiery and the hope is that he'll be able to motivate the team in ways that Renney couldn't. I may like him. I may not.

But I'll appreciate what Tom Renney did during his time here. And I wish him good luck in his future.

True Metnney's know...The Rangers had 48 walk-off wins during Tom Renney's coaching career, defining a hockey walk-off as a game won in overtime, or via shootout. His walk-off won-loss record was 48-46.


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