John Tortorella fired as Rangers head coach
The bearer of the briefest interviews in professional sports has been cut short.
WFAN’s Mike Francesa reported early Wednesday afternoon Rangers head coach John Tortorella has been fired in a surprising move. It was confirmed by the team soon thereafter.
General manager Glen Sather will hold a conference call with the media at 2:15 p.m. to discuss the firing.
Tortorella led the Rangers to the Eastern Conference Finals last season and just lost to the Bruins in the conference semifinals last Saturday. It was a disappointing end for a team many picked to win the Stanley Cup.
They finished just sixth in the Eastern Conference during the abbreviated regular season.
But it was assumed Tortorella would be back. He spoke to the media on break-up day Monday with no hint he would not be returning.
“[The coaching staff] just touched base with [the players] about some of the things that have gone on in the year, make sure they’re aware of what’s in the future,” Tortorella told the media. “I mean that’s what you have to start looking to right away is how do we get better? So you address some of those things and get prepared for another camp.”
Now it appears as if he won’t get that chance.
Tortorella became known for his terse press conferences and blunt dismissals of the press. He twice swore on live TV during this year’s playoffs while his abrupt demeanor became an internet trope last year during the playoff run.
While he and management didn’t appear to have any open disagreements, the handling of center Brad Richards in this year’s playoffs certainly became an issue. Signed to a major free agent deal in 2012, Richards struggled badly this season and into the playoffs. Richards, a favorite of Tortorella during a Stanley Cup run with Tampa Bay, was finally benched for Game 4 against the Bruins. But even after the game, and following the Game 5 elimination, Tortorella fiercely defended the center and blamed Richards’s struggles on himself.
Tortorella took over the Rangers midway through the 2008-09 season and led the team to a fourth-place finish in the Atlantic Division. The team lost to the Capitals in Game 7 of the first round.
The Rangers finished 38-33-11 the following season, but missed out on the postseason. The team lost in five games, again to Washington, in 2010-11. The Rangers finished with a postseason record of 19-25 under Tortorella.
Follow Metro New York Sports Editor Mark Osborne on Twitter @MetroNYSports.