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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Rangers Fire Tortorella

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Rangers Fire Tortorella

The writing was on the wall. After going all out to bring in big names: Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards, Rick Nash, if all else fails it must be the coach's fault, right? Well, the Rangers certainly think so as they showed coach John Tortorella the door on Wednesday, just days after being eliminated in five games by the Boston Bruins. 

The Rangers had reached the playoffs four times in five seasons under the outspoken coach. Known league wide for his big mouth and hard nose attitude, Tortorella garnered headlines throughout the playoffs for his critique publicly about the abilities (or lack there of) of some of his better players. Youngster Carl Haglin "stunk" on the powerplay. Brad Richards, who won a Cup for Tortorella with Tampa in 2004, went from the 1st line to the 4th line to benched during the semi-final series with Boston.

The fiery coach is one of those guys who you either love, for his brutal honesty and tough character or hate for many of the same reasons. He is cut from the Mike Keenan hockey coaching cloth as a coach who is a disciplinarian and demands a lot from his players. Coaches like that have a track record of coming in some place, turning it around quickly, but losing the locker room for many of the same reasons as they wear out their welcome after a certain amount of time.

You could see it in the Rangers play. For a team so offensively gifted, they had just a horrible time putting the puck in the net throughout the playoffs. They likely would have been bounced a round earlier had goaltender Henrik Lundquist not stole a pair of shutout wins to wrap up  the series against Washington. Preaching a defense first mentality to a team built to score is a tough sell and one that clearly didn't work down the stretch.

It will be interesting to see what happens next with Tortorella. He has won a cup and is capable of getting teams to the playoffs. That alone should get him in the discussion for other jobs. There are also whispers that his personality might make for a nice transition into the media side. That said, the way he treated the media in New York it would be hard pressed for there to be many more bridges left standing to cross into that realm.

In any case, the Rangers search for a new coach has begun. The Tortorella era has come to a close. GM Glen Sather is on the hot seat and could go next. The Rangers, whether outside the blue jerseys or in, are going to be a much different organization next season.

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