Last week, following the Rangers win over the San Jose Sharks, Joe Thornton made some comments about the Rangers being soft.
Thornton then formally apologized for those comments later in the week.
Katie Baker at Grantland writes that Versus’ Bill Patrick saw the move as a savvy one from Thornton to get the Rangers fired up to play Anaheim, a division rival for the Sharks, in their next game.
Elliotte Freidman wrote at CBC:
We expect players to care as much as we do, so we can’t rip them if they react angrily to being benched in critical moments (Ovechkin) or if they temporarily forget the cliches after a loss (Joe Thornton calling the Rangers “soft”). New York is 3-0 since Thornton said that, which can’t be a coincidence. John Tortorella’s probably reminding them before every period.
I think there could be a little bit of a coincidence between winning the last three games and the comments being said. They did beat San Jose pretty handily and showed the type of game that they can play and just continued to play like that over the next three games. I do think that this is being used as motivation though, and it should be. It can unite the team and give them another goal of proving what kind of team they are.