After a disappointing season that saw the New York Rangers capture the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference and get eliminated by the Boston Bruins in the second round of the 2013 NHL playoffs, head coach John Tortorella has been fired.
According to the Rangers' official Twitter account, Tortorella was relieved of his duties on Wednesday, so the search for a new bench boss will begin right away:
BREAKING NEWS: The #NYR have relieved John Tortorella of his coaching duties...details to follow— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) May 29, 2013
Tortorella had been the Rangers' head coach since taking over late in the 2008-09 season. He managed to guide the Blueshirts to the playoffs in all but one season; however, they were never able to make it past the Eastern Conference Finals.
Bleacher Report's Casey DeMarco and Ryan O'Leary discussed the Rangers' move to cut ties with their head coach:
Jesse Spector of Sporting News was especially surprised by the Rangers' decision, as Tortorella is amazingly one of just two coaches to win a playoff round in each of the past two seasons:
New York fell just short of the Stanley Cup Finals last year as it was eliminated by the New Jersey Devils, but hopes were high heading into this season. The Rangers got off to a slow start, though, and needed a late-season push to secure the No. 6 seed and make the playoffs.
While it's unclear what led directly to Tortorella's dismissal, Mike Francesa of WFAN Sports Radio in New York believes that some type of disagreement between Tortorella and management emerged in recent days that resulted in his firing:
Francesa: "There was either difference of opinion, argument, fight that really has festered in the last 48 hours." | http://t.co/FlyjyUpPRu— WFAN Sports Radio (@WFAN660) May 29, 2013
Is firing Tortorella the right move?
It can be argued that the catalyst for New York's late-season success was the trade of forward Marian Gaborik to the Columbus Blue Jackets for forwards Derick Brassard and Derek Dorsett, as well as defenseman John Moore. The Rangers seemed to come together, but it wasn't enough to get them past the second round of the playoffs.
Tortorella never seemed to be on the same page with Gaborik, so trading him away was almost like a vote of confidence in the coach's favor, according to Bart Logan of the USHL's Youngstown Phantoms. Despite that, the Rangers' front office decided to can Tortorella anyway:
Tortorella was perhaps best known for his often uncomfortable media sessions, particularly after losses. He was often difficult to deal with and he certainly didn't endear himself to the tough New York media.
Larry Brooks of the New York Post doesn't seem to believe that Tortorella should have a future in broadcasting, assuming he doesn't catch on with another NHL team:
Any media outlet that would hire John Tortorella should be ashamed.— Larry Brooks (@NYP_Brooksie) May 29, 2013
The final nail in Tortorella's coffin may have been his decision to scratch center Brad Richards for Game 4 against the Bruins. Richards had struggled to that point and the Rangers' backs were against the wall as they trailed 3-0. However, many disagreed with Tortorella sitting the team's highest-paid player.
The move bought New York an extra game, but the Rangers were eliminated in five and now Tortorella is paying the price.
The New York market is one of the toughest to coach in, but there should be plenty of suitors for the Rangers' job due in part to the amount of talent that is already in place. One potential option is longtime Buffalo Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff, according to John Vogl of the Buffalo News:
The Rangers have fired John Tortorella. From what I've been told about Lindy Ruff's job wish list, this is a place he'd want to go.— John Vogl (@BuffNewsVogl) May 29, 2013
Ruff was fired this past season after 15 years at the helm for the Sabres. He has an impressive resume, though, and played three seasons with the Rangers, so he is definitely a name worth watching in the coming weeks.
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