Torts Takes The Fall

The Rangers have fired coach John Tortorella. Its not what I would call a shock, but it is a bold move. The question is, why did they suddenly decide to do this four days after the season ended?

Some will say its because of Henrik Lundqvist’s comments on Monday about talking to his agent before signing an extension with the Rangers. There is certainly a case to be made for the Rangers firing him because of his personality.

But I suspect it had to do with the Brad Richards situation. Richards was benched for the last two games of the playoffs. The Rangers could buy him out of his contract after this season or next season and it wouldn’t count against the salary cap. But, to do so this season means the Rangers take a $24 million hit. So I think Sathers’ boss, Jim Dolan, told him to make Richards happy this season and fire the coach. I only think that because the timing is so strange. The season ended Saturday. The players and coaches met the media on Monday. It’s weird that he was suddenly fired on Wednesday.

None of the above means that I disagree with the move. Tortorella was a good coach, but he had two serious flaws that I think prevented this team from achieving all it could.

First, he demanded a certain style of play without any regard to the personnel he had to coach. That’s a pretty extreme position to take and I just don’t think it is a long-term recipe for success. Look at Torts’ run in Tampa. He won the cup and was fired three seasons later.

Second, and probably the most important, he did nothing to develop the younger players. What happened to Chris Kreider this year? J.T. Miller made a splash, but quickly got sent back to the minors. Torts demanded his way of play and he glued players to the bench when they didn’t follow through. It’s very hard to develop into a good player when you have to worry about getting benched after every shift.

So, I don’t regret the firing of Torts, but I think it is interesting how Glen Sather will get another chance to pick another coach. It’s worth noting that if the Rangers buyout Richards’ deal it will simply be another high-profile signing by Sather that blew up. Wade Redden, Pavel Bure, Scott Gomez, Chris Drury…how many more chances does Sather get before his time runs out as well?

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Comments

  • blmeanie  On May 29, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    There are coaches in all sports that have a window with each new team of a couple of years to win or be gone because of their style. He is one of those coaches. He needs a team on the verge of winning quickly before the Schlick gets old. I’d want him as a coach if the situation is right.

    • nysportsfanatic  On May 29, 2013 at 3:14 pm

      Yup, no doubt he is a good coach and has a Cup to prove it, but the window is small. Coughlin is similar, but he won just in the nick of time.

      I always think of Buck Showalter. He has now built the Yankees, D’backs, Rangers and Orioles into contenders, but never got over the final hump with them.

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