Rangers GM Sather: John Tortorella ‘shocked’ by firing

Head coach John Tortorella has been fired by the Rangers. Credit: Getty Images
Head coach John Tortorella has been fired by the Rangers.
Credit: Getty Images

On breakup day, John Tortorella termed the 2013 season “a sideways step.”

That misstep cost Tortorella his job with the Rangers. The organization announced Wednesday afternoon the controversial head coach had been fired.

“I made the decision,” team president and general manager Glen Sather said in a 22-minute long conference call with reporters. “This is the decision I made.”

While Sather was evasive throughout the call, the executive noted he plans to have a coach hired by the June 30 draft. Already there is speculation former Buffalo head coach Lindy Ruff could be a candidate for the job. Other potential candidates may include Alain Vigneault, John Stevens, Ken Gernander, Guy Boucher, Paul Maurice and Dave Tippett.

“A lot of good candidates,” Sather said.

The mandate for the next coach was made clear by Sather: win the Cup.

Following a 2011-12 season in which the Rangers advanced to the Eastern Conference Final for the first time since the 1996-97 season, the 2013 team finished sixth with a 26-18-4 mark despite the acquisition of sniper Rick Nash to a team that included Henrik Lundqvist, Ryan Callahan and Brad Richards.

The Rangers qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs in the second-to-last game of the regular season. It took the Rangers seven games to beat the Capitals in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, including winning Games 6 and 7. The Rangers were eliminated by Boston in five games of the conference semifinals.

During Monday’s breakup day, Lundqvist termed the season “a step back” and was tepid when asked about his long-term future. Lundqvist is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Sather said he planned on locking up Lundqvist “to a long-term contract.” Lundqvist is the second highest-paid goaltender in the NHL, behind Nashville’s Pekka Rinne (seven years, $49 million).

Sather denied that Lundqvist’s eyebrow-raising words played a role in the firing.

“We were very successful last year. This year, I thought out team played well. Did [the] team play up to our expectations? I don’t think so,” Sather said. “This year, we didn’t make [the Stanley Cup Final]. I think that’s what he’s referring to.

“I felt this was a decision that had to be made going forward,” Sather said. Tellingly, he added “every coach has a shelf life.”

When pressed whether Tortorella’s grinding style did not match the skill set of this year’s team, Sather demurred, opting to say coaching is “a trying job,” but there wasn’t a “specific reason” for the dismissal.

“After the analytical work, this is the decision I made,” Sather said. “It wasn’t one specific thing.”

In 319 games spanning two stints as coach of the Rangers, Tortorella compiled a regular-season record of 171-118-1-29. His 410 regular-season wins are the most all time for an American. In 2004, as head coach of the Lightning, Tortorella won the Stanley Cup and the Jack Adams Award.

“John was a little bit shocked,” Sather said. “I can’t tell you how shocked he was, but I don’t think he was prepared for it.”

Follow Rangers beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Miley Cyrus hospitalized, cancels Kansas concert, condition unknown,…

Singer Miley Cyrus was hospitalized on Tuesday night after suffering what is believed to be 'a severe allergic reaction' to antibiotics medication. The 21-year-old Bangerz…

News

Explosions in new Boston Marathon bomb panic, 'twisted'…

A fresh Boston Marathon terror alert, which caused Bomb Squad officers to order an evacuation while two controlled explosions were carried out, was today being…

Local

D.A. Williams opens new unit to focus exclusively…

D.A. Seth Williams announced Tuesday that he has opened a new unit focused entirely on investigating wrongful conviction claims.

Local

BSL, El to run all night on summer…

Officials announced this week that it would institute a pilot program this summer that would keep the El operational from 5 a.m. Friday morning until midnight Monday morning starting in…

Entertainment

Miley Cyrus hospitalized, cancels Kansas concert, condition unknown,…

Singer Miley Cyrus was hospitalized on Tuesday night after suffering what is believed to be 'a severe allergic reaction' to antibiotics medication. The 21-year-old Bangerz…

Television

'Orphan Black's' Jordan Gavaris talks Felix's Season 2…

Jordan Gavaris plays heroically helpful foster sibling Felix to main clone Sarah on "Orphan Black." We talked to him about what’s ahead for him in…

Going Out

Here's what to do in Philly this weekend

FILM 'Through a Lens Darkly'  Thursday, April 17, 6 p.m. Philadelphia Photo Arts Center 1400 N. American St. Free, RSVP required, 215-232-5678 www.philaphotoarts.org Join Philadelphia…

Arts

Peek behind the scenes at the Academy of…

Generations of visitors have marveled at the dioramas in the Academy of Natural Sciences, watching apprehensively at the puma perpetually poised to attack the unsuspecting…

U.S. Soccer

Andrew Wenger has big shoes to fill on…

Lancaster County native Andrew Wenger will feel pressure to fill the shoes of departer forward Jack McInerney.

NBA

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could…

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could the Mavericks surprise?

NBA

Sixers, Michael Carter-Williams give fans a happy ending…

The 2013-14 season for the 76ers has nearly come to a close.

NHL

Flyers must make Rangers feel their presence

Perhaps it’s the proximity of the two biggest cities in the East, because whenever these two square off the intensity seems to rise.

Home

Steal home decorating tips from Nattystyle blogger Natalie…

Despite the towering ceilings and enviable exposed brick, it’s easy to see how Natalie Decleve’s apartment could be considered a challenge. Perched above the streets…

Home

How to plant a garden in the city

Small on space but big on gardening? You can still have that welcoming oasis of fresh air with an urban garden. Peter Smith, owner of…

Style

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show moving to England

It will still broadcast on CBS this fall.

Tech

Google Glass finally goes on sale for regular…

The Google Glass finally went on sale for regular people. It only costs $1,500.