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Love him or hate him, John Tortorella was a great hockey coach for the New York Rangers.
Tom Renney may have helped restore respectability back to the franchise, but Tortorella was the one who took the team to the next level.
When Torts took over late in the 2008-09 season, the Rangers were in dire need of a change. Although it was the team’s first season without Jaromir Jagr—and goals were hard to come by—the Rangers as a whole were simply not responding to Renney’s quiet and laxed coaching style any longer.
Tortorella came in and, essentially, whipped the team back into the shape.
And although the Rangers would go on to miss the playoffs in 2009-10, Tortorella’s vision finally took shape in 2011-12. In the previous year, the Rangers lost in the opening round of the playoffs, but it was in 2011-12 that the Rangers not only finished first in the Eastern Conference, but also reached the conference final, where they would eventually lose to the New Jersey Devils in six games.
In 2012-13, the expectations were high for Tortorella and the Rangers, and although the team reached the second round of the playoffs, he was eventually fired and replaced by Vigneault.
It was a controversial move, but the sense surrounding the team was that Tortorella did all he could with the club.
In 271 games, Tortorella won 145 regular-season games, which is fifth best in franchise history, while his .583 win percentage is good for third.