John Tortorella has coached in the NHL for 10 years. In that span, he has made the playoffs seven times. He made it four times with the Tampa Bay Lightning and three times with the New York Rangers. More importantly, during his coaching tenure he won a Stanley Cup with the Lightning in the 2003-04 season.
The New York Rangers have not been to the Stanley Cup since 1994, which is the exact reason why they signed Tortorella. Since joining the team during the 2008-09 season, there have been plenty of highs and lows.
Most recently, the Rangers ended the season on a high note, when they finished in first place in the Eastern Conference and were two games away from making a Stanley Cup appearance. While they didn’t make it to the Stanley Cup, it was truly a season to remember.
Tortorella and fans saw great play from past free agent signings Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards, while seeing homegrown talent such as Henrik Lundqvist and Ryan Callahan have career years statistically. Rangers’ nation even got to experience what the future holds for the team, as they saw great performances from second-year player Derek Stepan, rookie Carl Hagelin and playoff call-up and standout Chris Kreider.
During this past offseason the Rangers acquired winger Rick Nash. Nash, in nine seasons with the Columbus Blue Jackets, scored 289 goals and 547 points. Many fans agree that Nash is the key to unlock the Rangers’ scoring woes from last year. Now, the Rangers seem to have no weaknesses whatsoever.
With all that said, how much longer does Tortorella have to win a cup in New York City, before the window closes?
Tortorella’s contract was extended three years at the end of the 2011 season. This means that Tortorella has two years remaining on his current deal, which is plenty of time to get his team to the Stanley Cup. However, with the lockout looming, Tortorella loses a year without coaching behind the bench once.
In a perfect world (with no lockout), I think Tortorella would have a two-year window to win a Stanley Cup. First, two years is plenty of time for all the younger players to develop, while other players (Callahan, Nash, Lundqvist, Gaborik) would all be in the “prime” of their careers.
Second, after the 2013-14 season, many of these key players will be free agents, including Lundqvist, Callahan, Dan Girardi, Gaborik and Kreider. It will be very difficult to spread the money equally to all of those key players, so there is bound to be some losses.
However, with the lockout looking like a guarantee, the Rangers in actuality have one year to go “Stanley Cup or broke.” The lockout affects every NHL franchise, but it may affect the New York Rangers and Tortorella the most, as they look to win their first Stanley Cup since 1994.