- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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Torrey acquired Goring for his personality and leadership traits as well as for his hockey skills. The Islanders had become an insecure finesse team. What they needed was a take-charge Bobby Clarke type in the locker room. In Goring, they finally seem to have their man.
"I was aware of what they wanted from me," Goring says. "From what I hear, the effort wasn't the same before I got here, but I can't say that I turned it around, that I'm God. I talk to the guys between periods if I have something constructive to say. It's my nature. I want to get a high going. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. These guys want to drink."
Torrey says, "What I like about Butch the best is that he's a hockey player. He's a real throwback, a guy who loves to play, who's happy in his career, and to whom hockey is very, very important. He's the classic professional who works his butt off and knows what he is." Torrey smiles. "Butch isn't trying to become a model for Sasson jeans, that's for sure," he says, taking a verbal jab at the Rangers, four of whom endorse the jeans on TV and in print ads.
"The greatest thing about Butch is that he plays without an ego; nobody resents him," says Bourne. "He doesn't mind the perception that he plays behind Bryan, or that Bryan gets on before him on the power play. He was quiet for about one day, then just spoke up whenever he felt like it, and he was constructive. Some guys can say something and it has a real edge, and that turns you off; Butch knows how to put things. And his mere presence just opened so many things up for us."
Perhaps the prime benefactor of Goring's presence is Trottier, the center who led the NHL in scoring and won the Hart Trophy as the MVP last season. He scored two goals Saturday, giving him eight in 12 games, and his 18 points through last weekend led all playoff scorers this spring. Before Goring, though, Trottier had a lifetime total of just five goals in 42 playoff games.
"I'm not taking a thing away from Butch, but it's for other people to say he's made things easier for me," Trottier says. "The way I feel, he's helped the team, not me."
Other people do say it. "It's no secret guys on the team were disappointed the last couple of years in Bryan, Clark and Mike," says Bourne, "but the pressure they felt must have been unreal. In the first few games of the playoffs, Trots and I were the only ones scoring regularly, and in one of the warmups I thought to myself, 'If I don't score, we're probably going to lose.' And then I realized how many times in the last three years Bryan, Clark and Mike had to feel the same way. That's a hell of a burden, especially when you're checked like they were. Now I think I can appreciate what they went through."