Rangers fire John Tortorella
Good, but not good enough. That’s how the John Tortorella era as head coach of the New York Rangers could be described- an era that came to an end today. Tortorella coached the Rangers from 2009 to 2013, leading them to playoff berths in three of his four full seasons as head coach, but never to the Stanley Cup that has eluded the Blueshirts since 1994.
The Rangers never advanced past the Eastern Conference Finals under Tortorella, and after a second-round exit this year, the Rangers front office decided enough was enough. Many predicted the Rangers to win the Cup this year, especially after they traded for forward Rick Nash and added him to a star-studded lineup that featured goalie Henrik Lundqvist, forwards Brad Richards, Ryan Callahan and Marian Gaborik, and hotshot rookie Chris Kreider.
But despite all that talent, the Rangers never lived up to expectations, and it cost “Torts” his job. Tortorella’s grinding, defense-first style got the job done more often then not, but the Rangers struggled mightily on offense, especially when it mattered most in the playoffs, while that same style of play limited the effectiveness of offensively-minded, big-money forwards like Richards, Nash and Gaborik, the latter of whom was traded before the end of the 2013 season. Richards had one point in ten games and ended up as a healthy scratch, and Nash didn’t score a goal until the ninth game of the playoffs this year- not exactly what’s expected of two players who made a combined $14.5M this year.
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And of course, there was Tortorella’s ever-abrasive demeanor when it came to dealing with the media. From last year’s description of “Pittsburgh’s whining stars“, to telling the media to “kiss his ass” and telling one of his own players that he “stinks“, Torts was always good for a soundbite, but less than effective when it came to relieving the pressure from the New York media- something his team probably could have used given all the pressure they were under already, and a likely contributing factor to Tortorella’s firing.
Still, it’s likely that Tortorella will find a home in the NHL sooner rather than later. He coached the Tampa Bay Lightning to a Stanley Cup victory back in 2004, and got the Rangers to the postseason three straight years, including a berth as the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference in 2011-12. But for the time being, one of the NHL’s more interesting personalities is headed to the unemployment line.