by Sam RosenCourtesy of www.msgnetwork.com
More often that not, coaching a team in New York puts the spotlight right on the coach. The Rangers' Ron Low
is a coach who has adapted well and maintained his objectives under the Big Apple's magnifying glass.
Ron is, above all, straightforward and honest, and the players appreciate those qualities. He talks both to the players and with them on the ice during practice, and there's rarely any misunderstanding as to what's going on. He's been pretty clear on what he wants from his players and what he expects once they take the ice.
In all the years I have watched Low and talked to players who have skated under him in Edmonton and New York, players have liked playing for him. He has a good handle on the various aspects of the game and is always ready to try something within the realm of a player's strengths and weaknesses. He does not make panic moves but is not afraid to make adjustments.
A typical example would be when he broke up the FLY line of Theo Fleury, Eric Lindros and Mike York to shake things up offensively. Then in Detroit on Feb. 6, he put that line back together again to try and jump start the offense before heading into the Olympic break. He's always trying to balance the lines to get both offense and defensively responsible players together. But when it didn't seem like certain things were working, he recognized that and made some adjustments. For instance, Fleury started playing with Petr Nedved and Radek Dvorak, while Jeff Toms joined Lindros and York on the top line. Low is not afraid to take chances and make moves to better the club, and he endeavors to get the most out of the talent he has.
The Rangers have fallen into a 3-10-1-1 rut over their past 15 games, and Ron's job is to keep the club positive. When I watched them practice Thursday in Detroit, the coaching staff was working on problem areas the team needs to improve in to play better down the stretch. There hasn't been a lot of practice time this year because of the tight schedule and travel. They worked on defensive zone coverage, power-play work and neutral zone play. Though they may falter in a game, there's always a fresh approach the next day in practice. Ron is a positive guy, so he'll work with the players on fixing certain weaknesses or problems. He doesn't believe in bashing a player, using harsh criticisms or cutting them down.
Ron tries to make sure the players understand it's a team effort. If you fall, you fall as a team. It's never an individual issue. When a mistake is pointed out, it's a team mistake and it needs be corrected as a team. All Ron's efforts are team-oriented and done with a positive and upbeat approach. When you watch a practice after a loss, there's usually a lot of spirit and effort. Hopefully the efforts can pay off in the next game.Sam Rosen has served as the Rangers play-by-play voice on MSG Network since 1984-85.