Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Rangers Fire Tortorella

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Rangers Fire Tortorella

Article excerpt

Whoever is chosen as the Rangers' new coach, and general manager Glen Sather said that process could take until the end of June, it's highly doubtful he'll be as polarizing as John Tortorella.

Tortorella, 54, was fired Wednesday just four days after the sixth-seeded Rangers were eliminated by the Bruins in five games in the Eastern Conference semifinals. The previous season, the Rangers finished first in the East and reached the conference final for the first time since 1997.

"It wasn't one thing," said Sather, adding he hoped to have a new coach in place by the NHL Draft on June 30. "After our analytical work in how to improve the team, this is the decision to move forward. I think we made the right one to move forward."

Tortorella did not respond when asked to comment via text message.

Sather was vague as to what qualities he was looking for in his next coach or whether that person might be in the organization. Mark Messier, a special assistant to Sather, could be considered though he has not coached at the professional level. The Oilers approached him about replacing Tom Renney prior to this season and Sather spoke to Messier about coaching the Rangers while he still was their captain.

Alain Vigneault, recently fired by the Canucks, and Lindy Ruff, fired this season after leading the Sabres since 1997, also may be considered.

Whoever is hired, however prickly, probably won't have the amount of run-ins with media, players or fans that Tortorella has. Sather refused to acknowledge if Tortorella's abrasive public persona played a role in his dismissal.

"I think in dealing with the press it's important that you have a relationship, whether it's good or bad," Sather said. "It's a factor of sports in the modern world today that we all have to deal with speaking with you fellows. I think some people relish the opportunity to speak their mind and some other people are a little more reserved about it."

In 2009, his first year behind the Rangers' bench, Tortorella was suspended for Game 6 of a first-round playoff series against the Capitals after throwing a water bottle into the stands in Washington, then grabbing Aaron Voros' stick and holding it in a threatening manner toward fans in Game 5.

Still, Tortorella is fourth on the Rangers' all-time victory list, having gone 171-115-29 since replacing Renney on Feb. 23, 2009. He also went winless in a four-game stint as interim coach at the end of the 1999-2000 season after John Muckler was fired.

"Every coach has a shelf life," said Sather, who disclosed he had no plans to relinquish his role of GM next season and remain just the team's president. …

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