The Rangers announced the news via Twitter:
BREAKING NEWS: The #NYR have relieved John Tortorella of his coaching duties...details to follow— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) May 29, 2013
Some fans will be shocked at the news, considering the success the Rangers have had under Tortorella. The decision also caught the coach off guard, according to General Manger Glen Sather (via Steve Zipay of Newsday).
Sather: "I think he (Torts) was a little bit shocked."— Steve Zipay (@stevezipay) May 29, 2013
New York looked good in eliminating the Washington Capitals in the conference quarterfinals, but that strong play was lacking against the Bruins.
This doesn't come as a major shock following the Rangers' conference semifinals exit to the Boston Bruins in five games. New York had Stanley Cup aspirations prior to the season, but only managed to finish sixth in the Eastern Conference.
Sather also described the team's thought process after a disappointing season and how they came to the conclusion to move in a different direction (via the New York Rangers and Rich Chere of the Star-Ledger).
"It wasn't one specific thing...it was more of a decision on how we get better and challenge for the Stanley Cup" - Glen Sather #NYR— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) May 29, 2013
Sather: "Every coach has a shelf life... Our goal is to win the Stanley Cup and we didn't achieve that this year."— Rich Chere (@Ledger_NJDevils) May 29, 2013
Sather also touched on the controversial benching of Brad Richards, saying that it wasn't just Tortorella's decision to put one of the team's biggest stars in the stands for important playoff games (via Chere).
Sather on Brad Richards being scratched: "It was an organizational decision made in conjunction with the rest of us."— Rich Chere (@Ledger_NJDevils) May 29, 2013
Not all of the team's problems this season can be attributed to the coach. After all, it's the players who step out on the ice. As with most cases, though, it's the coach who's given the lion's share of the blame because it's much easier to fire a coach than to replace a team.
Tortorella first became head coach of the Rangers during the 2008-09 season, replacing Tom Renney in the middle of the year. The remainder of his time with the franchise is a succession of disappointments in the regular season and Stanley Cup playoffs.
The furthest he took the Rangers in the postseason was the conference finals last season, with his team losing to the New Jersey Devils in six games.
Were the Rangers right to fire John Tortorella?
With Tortorella's personality, it's not a far leap to think he has worn out his welcome with the Rangers. Players and upper management can only put up with somebody like Tortorella for so long before it becomes too much.
Despite his surliness, Tortorella is a talented coach and will most likely land on his feet. He won the Stanley Cup in 2004 with the Tampa Bay Lightning. He's also the first American-born coach to win 400 games.
It's only a matter of time before Tortorella is on an NHL bench again.