Terry O'Reilly

No Stones Left Unturned

by Gary Pino

Terry O’Reilly and Jim Schoenfeld, both former NHL head coaches, were hired Wednesday by the New York Rangers to be assistants under new coach Bryan Trottier.

Ted Green, who served under fired head coach Ron Low, was the only assistant retained from the previous staff.

“I am extremely excited that Terry and Jim will be joining Ted and myself in New York,” Trottier said. “Both men were true competitors as players and are highly respected for their hockey knowledge.

“I feel confident that we all share the same philosophies and are committed to returning the Rangers to the elite of the NHL.”

The Rangers have missed the playoffs the last five years, including the last two under Low.

After retiring from the Boston Bruins in 1985, O’Reilly became head coach Nov. 5, 1986. As the 17th coach in Bruins’ history, he was 115-86-26 and guided the team to three consecutive playoff appearances, including reaching the final in his first season.

O’Reilly, 51, played 14 seasons in the NHL — all with the Bruins. He had 204 goals and 402 assists as well as a franchise record 2,095 penalty minutes.

O’Reilly was a favorite villain at Madison Square Garden because of a battle with fans after a 1979 game. That night, O’Reilly, and some Bruins teammates went into the stands to fight with spectators.

Schoenfeld, 49, was an NHL head coach for 10 seasons with Buffalo, New Jersey, Washington and Phoenix — posting a 256-246-78 record. He led New Jersey to its first playoff appearance ever in 1988, in which the Devils were within one game of the Stanley Cup final.

He played 13 NHL seasons with Buffalo, Detroit and Boston. He had 51 goals, 204 assists and 1,132 penalty minutes.

The new trio will have to work together to bring this franchise back to respectability, most observers are saying that the Rangers missed the boat when they passed on Hitchcock, Nolan and Burns (who was hired yesterday by the Devils to replace Kevin Constantine) but I am not feeling this way anymore! Look at the success the Islanders had with first year coach Peter Laviolette! Chemistry and communication I feel are the biggest factors in bringing confidence to a team that has had an identity crisis for the last few years.

The bench is set, and I have to say, “I truly am very pleased with the selection that Sather has assembled” And most Ranger fans seem to agree?  Both O’Reilly and Schoenfeld were never really in anyone’s mind as assistants for the club, including mine!  This is one hard nosed team of assistants that will make Bryan Trottier’s job a lot easier than it would have been if he had been stuck working with the “walking dead” in Kyle or Green. Green is going to remain on the staff, I just wonder if he will ever be present behind the bench this season?

Sather has done a very good job so far, but it remains to be seen if he can iron out some contract issues with certain players like Richter, Messier and Ekman, whom I want to see signed this year.  Rangers who I feel will be traded if the right deal presents itself, Radek Dvorak, Grosek, Johansson.  Depending on the Holik situation in Jersey, with Nedved bulking up this off season, and the lack of centers the Rangers currently have, I’d expect the Rangers to hang on to him now that he has worked his tale off this off-season.

By now I am sure most of you know that Theo Fleury will “not” be coming back to play next season, am I surprised? NO. Too much went on this year in respect to his mental state and ability to remain focused long enough to actually help his team, and coaching staff. Also I feel with Rucinsky here, and if Sather does resign him, Devo may be an excellent player to move in a trade possibly on draft day? The draft is not as bad as everyone thought, I see some promising prospects, and will submit another round of draft dark horses next week.
So let the games begin!

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