Originally written on The Rangers Tribune  |  Last updated 11/12/11
Rangers-coach-tortorella

Head coach John Tortorella let it all come out after Friday's 5-1 win over the Hurricanes when he was asked about defenseman Dan Girardi being left off the All-Star ballot and not being recognized as a top player in the National Hockey League. Below are his comments on the matter courtesy of Andrew Gross at Ranger Rants...

"Oh, this league," said Tortorella, waving his hand in disgust. "It's because he's not pedigree. There's no pedigree there. Our league is so ass-backwards when it comes to that. It's not just this year that he's been underrated. This guy has been a really good player. But if you don't have the pedigree in this league, they don't look at you."

"Ass-backwards" is probably the best way to put it, because the NHL is very confused when it comes to promoting the way they should and what their focus is on. The Rangers, for example, get little to no recognition from the league on any mater whatsoever. I mean, they won their sixth straight game last night, yet when I checked the headline reel on NHL.com earlier this morning for last night's game, there was not one mention of the Blueshirts. Not one. 

Instead, they focused on the Penguins' win over the Stars (of course) and the Sabres defeating the Senators (do the Sabres even have fans?). New York had one tiny headline on the sidebar of the site that probably no one read because it took me a minute to even locate it. That's outrageous and makes the league look horrible. 

This is what Tortorella is referring to when he says the league is "ass-backwards", because they focus on the wrong things instead of the right which, in turn, results in improper promotion of the game. Many more people know who the New York Rangers are as opposed to James Neal and his two goals against the Dallas Stars. This is why the NHL has the smallest following, and gets even less attention than the NBA even though basketball is locked out right now. 

And don't begin to tell me that they are doing the Rangers a favor by putting them in the Winter Classic in January. They couldn't care less about how the Rangers and their fans feel about it, they just know that a big-name team will bring them more money and television revenue. That's all. 

Instead of focusing on Dan Girardi, who has taken the world upon his shoulders in the absence of Marc Staal, the league is more focused on when Sidney Crosby will return from his concussion. Have they ever showed concern over Staal's concussion. Not at all, and he is a top five defenseman in the NHL in my opinion. 

As a fan, this is embarrassing to see. It makes hockey look bad, it makes its fans look bad, and most of all, it's chasing away more and more of its dedicated followers. The Rangers are one of the biggest names in sports, yet they are such a small focus within the NHL. 

If it were the Pens who were on a six-game winning streak, the site would be plastered with headlines so that everyone knew. Hell, they may even put Mario Lemieux's head on the top of the site instead of the NHL logo. 

And I can't even complain much as a Ranger fan, because the poor Western Conference barely exists in the NHL's eyes. They are given such little attention it's a joke, and it's also why the league will likely be moving the Detroit Red Wings to the East for next season. 

Really, when was the last time you saw a headline about a game involving the St. Louis Blues or the Phoenix Coyotes? It almost never happens. 

Even here on Long Island with the Islanders. Granted they've been losing like mad as of late, but if the league truly wants to save the franchise, they would promote the Isles much more than they do now. I don't remember anything being on NHL.com during this past summer's August 1 vote. 

I'm glad Tortorella said what he did because no one else has the stones to do so. It's time the NHL gets their act together and starts promoting the game how it should be. Unless, of course, they enjoy being in the shadow of a sport that is not even in action right now. I guess commissioner Gary Bettman is too busy planning out the Marvel superhereos for the next All-Star Game to be bothered with that sort of stuff. 

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