It has been 182 days since Tom Renney and his awful suit collection have been removed from behind the New York Rangers' bench. Yet, I still cannot get him out of my mind.
Is it because the Rangers are out to a 3-1 record? No.
Is it because their power play, although only 3-for-20, looks dramatically different? Nope.
Is it because Michal Rozsival was actually benched after playing poorly, rather than being rewarded with more minutes in crucial situations? Not even that.
You see, the reason that Tom Renney has been giving me night terrors all the way from Edmonton, (where he landed an assistant coaching job) has nothing to do with this year’s New York Rangers. No, the reason, is Petr Prucha.
After watching Prucha’s highlight-reel goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday, it saddens me to think what could have been, if he were only given a fair chance in the Rangers lineup.
Witnessing Prucha play for parts of four seasons in New York, it was clear that he was a player who never took a shift off, had no fear, and above-average offensive ability. Yet, on a Rangers team which lacked heart, a full 60-minute effort and scoring, Prucha found himself riding the bench more than not.
I mean, it’s only logical to take a player who scored 26 of his first 59 goals with the man-advantage off the power play, right? It’s not like Tom Renny’s team was ranked second-to-last on the power play or anything…
No, rather than reward Prucha with power-play time for never taking a shift off, and at times, being the hardest-working, hardest-hitting forward on the ice, Renney decided to place players such as Aaron Voros and Jason Krog ahead of Prucha on the depth chart.
Through three games with the Phoenix Coyotes this season, Prucha has 1G and 1A and is seeing significant playing time, both at even-strength and on the power play.
Barring an injury for a lengthy period of time, it’s plausible for Prucha to post an impressive 30-plus goal season, and totaling over 50 points, something the Rangers could have desperately used down the stretch last season.