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Columnist: Tortorella has to stop dumping on Dubinsky

Mar 26, 2012, 11:35 AM EDT

Dubinsky Stache

In Saturday’s 4-3 shootout win over Toronto, New York Rangers head coach John Tortorella took yet another “tough love” stance with forward Brandon Dubinsky.

Dubinsky was benched for seven minutes after gaffing on a read that allowed Toronto to score midway through the first period. Torts eventually sent him back out (Dubinsky responded by scoring), but then benched Dubinsky again in the third period, giving him just 43 seconds of ice time.

This isn’t the first time Tortorella’s admonished the 25-year-old. But according to the New York Post’s Larry Brooks, it should be the last.

From The Post:

Dubinsky has to answer for himself and his largely sour season. By no means is this nine-goal, 30-point year on the coach’s shoulders. But benching and demoting Dubinsky within the rotation (a tactic meant to punish, teach and motivate), which has been part of Tortorella’s approach since Thanksgiving, hasn’t yielded dividends.

The Rangers are going to need Dubinsky to be a reliable, hard-edged and productive player in the playoffs. He has been that. Last year Dubinsky was the team’s best forward in the five-game first-round defeat to the Capitals, even moving back to center when Derek Stepan struggled in his first best-of-7.

The most puzzling aspect of the Tortorella-Dubinsky relationship is that Torts seems to punish Dubi more severely than the other Rangers.

Brooks notes that on Feb. 24, Michael Del Zotto committed a “ridiculous” penalty that Tortorella publicly criticized…yet the young defenseman didn’t miss a shift.

The New York Daily News then reported that Carl Hagelin, who struggled with defensive positioning throughout the Leafs game, got an earful from Tortorella for his lackluster play….but also didn’t miss a shift.

  1. stakex - Mar 26, 2012 at 12:08 PM

    Well its very very clear that Torts plays favorites with his players. Its always been that way, and if he doesn’t like a player for whatever reason they won’t be playing as much even if it hurts the team. Plain and simple.

    Is that whats up with Dubinsky and Torts though? Who knows. I would say that there is a huge difference between Dubinsky being benched, and benching Hagelin or Del Zotto right now. Both of them are having amazing years but had bad nights in the examples given (Hagelin was suppose to be in the AHL right now, but instead has more goals/points then Dubinsky in 13 less games), while Dubinsky has been in a funk all season and had a lot of bad nights. Would Dubinsky be benched if he was having a good year and just had a bad night? Probably not.

    I really like Dubinsky’s game. Hes not a great player, but he fits very well with the Rangers team concept. You can’t hide the fact however that he is not living up to the contract he signed in the off season, or even his own play from the last couple years. When that happens, there will be consequences. Still though, he shouldn’t have been benched TWICE in the same game… especially after scoring a very important goal.

  2. chip56 - Mar 26, 2012 at 12:13 PM

    Different players need to be treated in different ways. Keep in mind also that the Rangers at various times haven’t really had great blue line depth so benching Del Zotto might not have been an option.

    For what it’s worth – I find it pretty unlikely that Dubinksy will be with the Rangers after this season. I like his game, I’m sure he’s great in the room, but from a talent standpoint on this team he’s not a top 6 forward and with Krieder likely to be in the mix next season he might not even have a spot in the top 9. His salary is way too high for that.

  3. odj810 - Mar 26, 2012 at 12:15 PM

    dubinsky seems like a warrior to me whenever i watch him play. He may not have the most skill but he’s gritty and is always battling working hard and sticking up for his teammates. sometimes players need to be benched but not the way torts is consistently doing it.

  4. barkar942 - Mar 26, 2012 at 12:41 PM

    I personally feel that Duby seems to have problems handling the emotional ups and downs, just like Eric Christiansen. Duby shows flashes of excellence one shift, and then forgets to back check the next. Torts has been dealing with this inconsistency for the last three seasons, and seems to feel the only way to get through to him is with splinters from the bench.
    This will be Duby’s last season as a Ranger. Nash will be available (you never know what Sather will pull off), but salary cap space will need to be made. Sounds like Kreider will be here for next season. Feds will not be renewed. Eminger, Woywitka, Strahlman and Scott will be gone. Money must be cleared for Prust and Mitchell, who will be getting increases. Duby’s salary cap hit and inconsistent performance this season make him the likeliest target to be moved.
    Duby is potentially a top 6 forward on many clubs around the league, and perhaps a change of scenery will help his career.

    • DED - Mar 28, 2012 at 2:41 PM

      I want to disagree with you bark, but I can’t. Unless Dubie is fabulous in the playoffs, he’s gone. Woywitka has been rendered unnecessary due to Bickel’s performance. Emminger and Strahlman are expendable (though I thought they did fine this year, particularly Strahlman) as Erixon will likely take their place. Feds is cheap but the Rangers just might take another chance on Zuccarello or another young guy. Scott? Still haven’t figured that one out. Perhaps they’ll send him to Hartford.

      I don’t know if Sather will still make a play for Nash. Columbus is going to have to change its asking price for him as DZ, McD, Step, Hags and Kreider are pretty much off limits.

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