The New York Rangers made a very surprising move in firing head coach John Tortorella. During the playoffs, I was one of the few calling for the man known as Torts to be fired. His act wore thin with many of the fans, media and apparently the players. Who can blame them? He bothered me just watching the games, and I can’t imagine what it is like for the players to have to endure this hardass. I may be a bit biased towards my dislike of Torts, due to him getting rid of two of my favorite Rangers in Sean Avery and Marian Gaborik, and for his boring approach to how he wants his team to play the game. Still, there are an abundance of reasons why I disliked Torts and think this is a great move.
-The system- Tortorella has to be on of the most egotistical coaches in sports. While his grind it out, shot blocking defensive system helped the Rangers to excel in 2011-12, this years team wasn’t the team to use that same system with. Gone are grinders such as Artem Anisimov, Brandon Dubinsky and Brandon Prust. In came Rick Nash, Arron Asham and Taylor Pyatt. Nash, Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik were supposed to be this super line, but all three struggled at times. This team was clearly more suited for an up tempo, balanced offensive attack. Tortorella NEVER adjusted his system, none whatsoever! Great coaches make tweaks to their systems, but Torts didn’t do any of that. He would preach defense wins games, but you need to score the puck as well to win, not rely on winning games 2-1 or 1-0 every night!
-The offense- Since taking over for Tom Renney in February 2009, the Rangers have struggled to score consistently. With all of the talent the Rangers had this year, there is NO EXCUSE as to why this years team struggled to score. The Rangers have never been in the top ten for goals scored while Torts was the coach. Torts also over utilized the dump and chase way to often. So many Rangers fight for the puck and pass, pass, pass behind the net until someone finally loses it. No one would be in the slot to receive the pass. No one would crash the net and create havoc on goalies like Boston did to the Rangers in the playoffs. No one would just fire a puck on net and get a dirty rebound. Plus, all three forwards down behind the net constantly led to odd man rushes for the other team.
-The defense- There really isn’t a lot wrong with the defense, especially considering the great job they did without defensive stud Marc Staal in the lineup. One thing that did irk me a lot this year though was just how much the Rangers would collapse around the net. This did them in against the Bruins, as they constantly let Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug fire shots from the point. No adjustments to a tight point defense. No one clearing opposing players away from Hanks crease. This over collapsing defense led to way to much time in the Rangers zone, and Lundqvist constantly getting bombarded with shots.
-The powerplay- The powerplay is so awful, I dont even have to go in depth to explain it. The atrocious pp killed the team in the playoffs, absolutely killed them. This can be blamed more on assistant coach Mike Sullivan, who runs the powerplay, but still, who chose Sullivan to run the pp? Who never decided to intervene and try to correct it? Who never hired a third coach to help run things like many teams do? Tortorella.
-The attitude- Tortorella is known to not enjoy the media, constantly giving short, terse and angry answers. Sorry coach, it is the medias job. Many coaches do it, and handle it with class. Sure he is good for some soundbites here or there, but soundbites don’t win cups. The attitude made many dislike Torts, including many Ranger fans. I can’t even imagine how the players must feel with him constantly berating them over and over.
Other quick tidbits
– Saying Carl Hagelin stinks on the powerplay to the media was stupid. Torts claims to have an attitude to the media to take attention off of the team, but then you go and throw a player under the bus like that? Hagelins response “I definitely don’t stink on the power play” already showed cracks forming from within the locker room.
-Chris Kreider has to be relieved. Kreider debuted in the 2012 playoffs with a bang, scoring five goals despite not playing in a single regular season game. Expectations may have been a little high for Kreider, but Tortorella never let him reach his potential. What good does it do to play him 5 minutes a night on the teams fourth line? Tortorella has done a good job transitioning young players to the NHL level (Stepan, McDonagh) but he showed little patience with Kreider.
-Brad Richards will most likely be bought out. He was one of Tortorella’s guys, and even with his struggles, it was clear Tortorella had favorites, while disliking players such as Sean Avery (who deserved a spot on last years team over Mike “Useless” Rupp) and Marian Gaborik. Richards cap hit is just way to high, and the Rangers can’t risk having him play next year and getting hurt, because if he does then the Rangers can’t use their second amnesty buyout on him. That means a ridiculous contract that runs through 2021!
-I am not calling Henrik Lundqvist a coach killer, but he must have had something to do with this. He knows he only has a few more precious years, and he can’t win a cup with Tortorellas system. You take Lundqvist over anyone in this situation
Tortorella is a good coach, but clearly living off of his 2004 cup. The team, myself and most other Ranger fans can breath a sigh of relief and hopefully watch a team that is much more enjoyable to watch in 2013-14 as they continue on their quest for the Stanley Cup