Throughout the 2003-04 season, be sure to check back each week as the Rangers' coaching staff provides insight into the team and the game.
In the first installment of COACHES CORNER on newyorkrangers.com, Vice President of Player Development and Assistant Coach Tom Renney gives his take on training camp and the pre-season, the importance of playing well on home ice and the team's keys to success in 2003-04.
THOUGHTS ON THE TEAM'S FIRST MONTH ON THE ICE ... "We, as a coaching staff, like the frame of mind that everyone was in at the outset of Training Camp. The guys showed up with strong mental fitness and physical fitness levels, which was encouraging. That reflected a strong off-season commitment from everyone. Burlington was a good start for us. The players were receptive to the system we put in place and Glen really did a great job of having the entire coaching staff organized and well prepared. This translated into a lot of positive things on the ice."
WITH 11 OF THE FIRST 15 GAMES BEING PLAYED AT MADISON SQUARE GARDEN TO START THE SEASON, HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO REGAIN AN EDGE ON HOME ICE? "It's very important to get off to a strong start, especially on home ice. We want Madison Square Garden to be a tough place for a team to come in and play. We want The Garden to be a place where visiting teams earn any points that they might come away with. It's up to each of the 23 players on the roster to identify with the physical and emotional commitment needed to make this happen."
WINNING FOUR OF THE LAST FIVE PRE-SEASON GAMES, WHAT EVALUATIONS CAN THE COACHING STAFF MAKE AT THIS TIME? "This group of players became more galvanized as the pre-season went along, from the line combinations, the defensive pairings, the tandem in goal. The players have been able to gel and share the workload over the last few weeks. They have paid attention to detail within the system that we have in place. Any time this happens, you'll give yourself a chance to win most games. If we can continue to stay to our system and put forth the commitment and effort required on a daily basis, we'll certainly win more games than we lose."
WHAT ARE THE KEYS TO SUCCESS FOR THIS TEAM IN 2003-04? "The team has to stay deeply committed to discipline as well as specialty teams, both power play opportunities and penalty killing situations. It goes without saying how important it is that everyone understands that they have a role to play on this team. Every player on the roster is an integral part to the success of the club and they each have to look within themselves to sacrifice individuality for the overall success of the team."