Less than 24 hours after the New York Rangers' season came to an end at the hands of the Washington Capitals in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, the New York Post broke news today that the Rangers have given a three-year contract extension to head coach John Tortorella that will keep him behind the bench through the 2013-14 season.
Tortorella, who replaced Tom Renney in February 2009, made the playoffs in two of his first three seasons as coach, but has yet to get past through the first round (or the Capitals for that matter, who eliminated the Blueshirts in 2009 as well). He as a record of 94-73-18 in 185 games as head coach.
After a quick exit from the playoffs, many fans were quickly putting the blame on Tortorella, but that isn't justified. Tortorella was able to win 44 games this season (seventh best in franchise history) all while dealing with injuries to key players including Ryan Callahan, Marian Gaborik and Vinny Prospal.
This is a good move for the franchise. Simply put, this team plays for Tortorella. The mantra all season was that this team doesn't give up and never feels dead, and that's attributed to the coach. If a coach has lost a team, you'll see them give up after trailing 2-0 in a game. That just wasn't the case.
He has finally put his signature on this franchise, and it's great that he has been given more time to see this team develop. There is a young core here who have really come of age under Tortorella, and a coaching change could be damaging. Tortorella was the last reason this team had a quick exit from the playoffs.