Top 5 Reasons New York Rangers’ Coach John Tortorella Got Fired
Reasons New York Rangers' Coach John Tortorella Got Fired
It is official. Coach John Tortorella of the New York Rangers has been relieved of his duties. A lot of people assumed that Tortorella could be on the hot seat midway through the regular season because of his failure to utilize the immense talent on the Rangers' frontline.
After the trade of star Marian Gaborik for John Moore, Derek Brassard and Derek Dorsett, the team seemed to find its hard-nosed identity that defined their Eastern Conference Finals run in 2012. Unfortunately for Tortorella and the Rangers, once playoff time rolled around, the offense went dark again and it was a rare sight for the boys in blue to light the lamp more than twice a game. The Rangers only scored more than two goals four times in 12 playoff games and although Henrik Lundqvist was phenomenal, he wasn’t perfect enough to win every game single-handedly.
The offensive failures were just a footnote, though, as the bigger problem seemed to be taking place off the ice with the players themselves. Where Tortorella's tough love method of coaching seemed to resonate with last season’s team, this year it clearly looked like the players grew restless of the constant criticisms of their coach and their play often reflected it. Who can blame them though?
When your coach has you blocking shots every single night and focuses on hitting the other team rather than scoring on them, the energy of the players is sure to be a little lax from time to time. It looked like Tortorella didn’t know how to find the balance of constructive criticism and positive reinforcement, and that’s why he got the boot.
5. Misuse of Rick Nash
The Rangers went out and got Nash last offseason hoping he would pair up with Gaborik to become the most dangerous duo of wingers in the league. Instead, Nash flourished and Gaborik did not, and eventually it became Nash's show. The problem in the playoffs was that Tortorella could not find ways to create offense for the star power forward. Tortorellas dump and chase approach to the offense was in direct contradiction to Nash's style of using his skating ability to weave throughout a defense in order to find openings for him and his teammates. Tortorella seemed hesitant to run his offense through Nash and that was a huge reason the star couldn't get going in the playoffs.
4. Reliance On Brad Richards
Richards was just off this season. Whether it was poor offseason work ethic or an undisclosed injury, the center was unable to do anything really productive the entire season. He couldn't score, he constantly turned the puck over and he was at the helm of one of the most powerless power plays ever conceived. The problem for Tortorella was that Richards was his guy in Tampa Bay when won the cup, so he wasn't going to bench him as fast as he would've for any other player. The problem came to a head in the playoffs when he finally benched Richards as a healthy scratch in a Game 4 win against the Boston Bruins only to realize it was too little too late. Tortorella needed to pull the plug on Richards after Game 1 and that's a big reason he's no longer manning the Rangers' bench.
3. Poor Handling Of Chris Kreider
Kreider was pegged to be a star after his impressive 2012 Postseason. Unfortunately, this past season Kreider had a rough time adjusting to everyday NHL life and often looked lost on the ice. Instead of trying to groom the top prospect, Tortorella instead opted to have Kreider sent down not once, but twice this season. When he was on the ice, he was often paired with players on the fourth line who he had little to no chance of having success with and was rarely given time to get the feel for the game. Kreider seemed to respond poorly to Tortorella's tough love and I think the Rangers' higher ups were none too happy seeing their prized prospect treated so poorly.
2. Too Much Defense, Not Enough Offense
Defense is all well and good, but there comes a time when you need to light the lamp and the Rangers were simply dreadful at it once it came to the playoffs. The offensive system relied solely on the dump and chase technique and that's okay when it's against less physical teams than the Rangers, but when it's against theBruins, who outsize you that badly, adjustments in the game plan had to be made. Tortorella was too stubborn to make these adjustments and the result was a putrid amount of puck possession and little to no offensive pressure against a goalie in Tuukka Rask, who was shaky at best throughout the entire series. Tortorella's refusal to let his players skate the puck into the zone allowed the Bruins to easily disrupt any kind of offensive flow that they attempted to gain and the result was restlessness and frustration on the ice for the Rangers at a time they needed to be focused and hungry.
1. The Powerless Power Play
Hard to watch. That's the only phrase that comes to mind when you think of the New York Rangers' power play this past season. It was abysmal from the start of the season, but it seemed to get a little better once the Gaborik trade happened. This was very short-lived, though, as once the playoffs came, the lamp stayed dark for an insane three out of 40 times. This had a crippling effect on the team as it usually sapped momentum from them at a time where it usually gives a team a momentum boost. Part of this problem was having Brad Richards at the point on the power play over Derek Brassard or Derek Stepan. Once Richards got scratched, the power play actually came to life a little bit, scoring twice in the final two games against the Bruins. Tortorella made the decision on Richards far too late, though, as the players looked lost so often on the power play that the other team had the better scoring chances during them.