Saturday, October 25, 2014

Rangers give fiery coach the boot

NEW YORK—The Rangers fired combative coach John Tortorella yesterday, four days after New York was eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Tortorella was dismissed unexpectedly with one year left on his contract.

He led the Rangers to the Eastern Conference final last year and into the second round this year before New York was eliminated in five games by the Boston Bruins.
The fiery Tortorella, who was hired to replace Tom Renney in February, 2009, achieved some success with the Rangers but couldn’t match the Stanley Cup title he earned in 2004 with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Rangers’ general manager Glen Sather met with the media via a conference call yesterday afternoon.
He did not a name an immediate replacement, but hopes to have one in place by the June 30 NHL draft in Newark, N.J.
“I felt this was a decision that had to be made going forward,” Sather said.
“I think he was shocked, but he is a gentleman and he took it very well.”
Last season, Tortorella led the Rangers to 51 wins—the second-most in franchise history—and 109 points before they were beaten in six games by New Jersey in the conference final.
He finished his Rangers’ tenure in fourth place on the team’s career coaching wins list.
The 54-year-old Tortorella got the Rangers back into the playoffs in this lockout-shortened season, and New York outlasted Washington in seven games in the first round of the playoffs before being knocked out by Boston.
Tortorella made curious comments Monday when the Rangers packed up for the season, which could have led to his ouster.
In his final meeting with reporters, Tortorella said his club wasn’t emotionally ready to take on Boston after getting past Washington with back-to-back shutout wins when it faced elimination.
“One of the things, and it falls on my shoulders, is our team’s mindset going into another round,” Tortorella had said.
“I don’t think our mindset was ready to play another series and to the level you need to be at,” he admitted.
The Rangers entered the 48-game season as a prime contender to win the Stanley Cup, especially after the off-season acquisition of top forward Rick Nash in a trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
After a slow start, the Rangers rallied to a 26-18-4 record and the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
But New York struggled to score in the post-season, and Nash and Brad Richards were among the biggest offenders.
Nash recorded only one goal and five assists in the Rangers’ 12 playoff games.
Richards, who has seven years remaining on a nine-year deal, was a bigger disappointment and was a healthy scratch by Tortorella in the final two games against the Bruins.
Richards had thrived under Tortorella when they won the Stanley Cup with Tampa Bay, but he managed only one goal and zero assists in his 10 post-season games with the Rangers.
Richards also likely will be gone from the Rangers, who can buy out the remainder of his lucrative deal and remove him from the salary cap that will go down for next season.

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