John Tortorella knows that you think that Chris Drury’s knee injury — one that we learned yesterday will sideline him for six weeks — means he doesn’t have to make a tough decision about whether to scratch the Rangers’ captain from the lineup as the team gets healthier. And the fact that you think that pisses him off. (In case it wasn’t clear, that’s Tortorella’s choice of words.)
Here’s the Rangers coach on the matter, via the Daily News:
“It pisses me off that some things come out about Chris Drury, about him thinking that he might be out of the lineup or maybe he’s just giving in here, a little bit,” Tortorella said. “But that’s certainly not what’s happening here with this guy. He tried to play on it, we tried playing him. It didn’t work out. It’s just a tough thing.
“You guys know him as well as I do, and it’s killing him … It came up in one of my press conferences and it just bugs me. Because he’s not built that way, and we all know that.”
But whether he wants to admit it or not, it does save him from making that decision — at least for six weeks — even if he’d ultimately stand by his captain and take any criticism associated with that call. Tortorella’s rooting for Drury, but you know, so were we: It’s killed us, too, to see him play like this. (Yes, we’ll admit it: We were sucked in three-plus years ago by the storyline of the Connecticut kid signing with his favorite team, and by all the hype surrounding him and Scott Gomez agreeing to deals on the same day. Though we’ll wager we weren’t the only one.) But as Drury’s role has became more limited — he’d been skating lately on the fourth line, making his biggest contributions on the penalty kill and in the face-off circle — a crop of young players has appeared poised to take on ice time and leadership roles.
And so for the stretch run, let there be no doubt now that this is Ryan Callahan’s team. And Marc Staal’s team. And Henrik Lundqvist’s team. (In fact, no one from this list is left for Rangers fans to pick on right now.) For a club that’s forging an identity as young and hard-working — even if certain members are learning on the job — that’s not such a bad thing.