|So Long John Tortorella (New York Rangers)|
OK now that we have had 24 hours to digest that John Tortorella was fired by Glen Sather on Wednesday as the coach of the New York Rangers that it is also time to separate fact from fiction. Or better yet can the hockey media stop acting like they are a bunch kids sharing playground gossip about who was under the bleachers with the supposed "easy" cheerleader. There are times when I am very happy to acknowledge that I am more scout than writer and this is one of those times.
First off let's address the Henrik Lundqvist remarks that several in the media swear are what led to the "shocking" termination:
“I’m gonna talk to my agent, and we’ll see,” Lundqvist said about potential contract talks. “You know, I had such a great time here in New York. From day one they treated me really well and have given me an opportunity to play a lot of hockey. It’s been a lot of fun. I have one more year on the contract. I’m just focused on — well, right now, I’m trying to get over this year — but we’ll see. I’ll talk to my agent and take it from there.”
Now I have highlighted the one sentence from the "drama" of a statement that Lundqvist made on Monday because so many have made so much over absolutely NOTHING. Wow talk about freaking out over nothing because that is exactly what this entire paragraph from Lundqvist is nothing to cause mass hysteria over. Yet so many were so sure that it was meant to mean that Lundqvist was unhappy with the Rangers.
And then when John Tortorella was fired on Wednesday then the stampede to say it was because Henrik didn't want to talk about signing a contract extension on exit day. Never have so many shown how little they really know and even worse is that they are painting Henrik Lundqvist as the reason why Glen Sather fired John Tortorella.
"[What Lundqvist said] didn't have anything to do with it. We plan on signing Henrik to a long-term contract and I'm not gonna make any public comments about the negotiations, when and how they're gonna take place, but it had nothing to do with the decision. This was a decision that I made."
Folks Glen Sather is many things but a liar is not one of them and trust me in watching Glen Sather going back to his days with Edmonton. There are only two players in existence who could have gone to Glen Sather and demanded a coach's head and Henrik Lundqvist is not one of them. As talented as Lundqvist is he doesn't have the kind of pull to get a Glen Sather to fire a coach.
Whether he liked it or not Sather has traded franchise players before so he was not afraid of Henrik Lundqvist and any demands he may have. Glen Sather does what he wants when he wants and when he has an owner who like James Dolan who doesn't hold him accountable for anything then nobody will tell him what to do.
So scratch the "Henrik Lundqvist was why Torts got fired off the list" and you can cross off the part about Tortorella's relationship with the media as a reason too. You can bet James Dolan just loved every second of the way Tortorella treated the media given his own dislike of the media. Glen Sather despite his tough guy image has never really been comfortable talking to as many reporters that cover the Rangers so he didn't mind at all that Tortorella was the bad guy.
John Tortorella was fired because Glen Sather underestimated the effects that the lockout would have on the Rangers. John Tortorella was fired because Glen Sather (and many a Ranger fan) didn't think Brandon Prust was worth 2.5 million a year and badly miscalculated what the loss of Prust meant to the Ranger lineup. John Tortorella was fired because Glen Sather was bringing in players he thought were ideal to play an attacking brand of hockey not Tom Renney hockey.
John Tortorella was fired because he was too stubborn to add a second coach behind the bench as there were several who could have helped the Ranger players better than Jim Schoenfeld. And the most important reason why John Tortorella was fired was because he wasn't a Glen Sather guy so Sather had no loyalty to keeping him at all.
But let the folks in the hockey media make fools of themselves by claiming that Tortorella was fired because of Henrik Lundqvist, let them think that Tortorella was fired because he was a bully to the media too and let them think they even know who Glen Sather will hire too. They will be wrong on that count as well because really the only two reporters who come the closest to showing some common sense are Andrew Gross and Rick Carpiniello as Carpiniello doesn't realize it now but he actually may be the one who called one thing right when he said:
If Tortorella was fired simply because he didn’t win the Cup, then Sather is delusional. The Rangers aren’t terribly far off from contending, but if you stack their talent against the teams in the final four, the difference it pretty obvious. And if that’s the bottom line, how does Sather rate his own job performance?
Glen Sather will be 70 come the fall, an age where most in hockey have long left the NHL these days. But the one thing Sather wants so badly before he retires is that one last Stanley Cup ring. Tortorella ruined that for Sather by not winning this year and call Sather whatever you wish but he had to know that this team wasn't a real contender for the Stanley Cup not after giving away Marian Gaborik for guys the Columbus Bluejackets viewed as not in their plans.
Sather knew when Brad Richards was terrible that the Rangers were not going to win the Stanley Cup. Can you imagine what he felt when he pulled the trigger on the Nash trade that he had assembled 3 of the top NHL scorers before the lockout? Now imagine how he felt when he traded Gaborik or watched Richards every night?
In the end John Tortorella was fired because he ruined the retirement plans of Glen Sather.
And now the replacement is?
Let me get this right, the still (sarcasm coming) so brilliant hockey media now wants the Rangers to hire former Vancouver Canucks coach Alain Vigneault? Part of the reason has to do with the fact that Vigneault is wonderfully friendly with the media which is a really dumb reason why to hire him.
Does it matter that Vigneault despite his great regular season record with the Canucks only got them to ONE Stanley Cup Final where they choked away the Cup to the Boston Bruins? The guy was just fired for losing in the first round for two straight years and this is who you want to coach the Rangers? Please what part of what Glen Sather said about wanting to win the Stanley Cup did they miss?
Oh and there is also this tiny detail about Vigneault being French Canadian that hurts his chances with Sather. Remember Glen Sather took the 8 page resume of Bryan Trottier who had zero experience as a NHL head coach over the guy who had 3+ seasons as head coach of the Montreal Canadians.
I think the next Ranger's coach has to be someone who has a Sather connection to him whether it is working for an old friend of Sathers or someone with an Edmonton connection that Sather will trust. Mark Messier? Pretty sure that Messier has his heart set on replacing Sather not coaching the Rangers. Messier saw how his buddy Wayne Gretzky stumbled as a head coach so I think Messier wants the big chair and won't gamble on being the Ranger coach where he might not work out.
Just to toss names out there then I would say John Stevens who is an assistant with the Los Angeles Kings, Doug Jarvis an assistant with the Boston Bruins and a Sather peer, or Jim Playfair an assistant with Phoenix who played for Sather in Edmonton.
Sather says he wants to have a coach by the time the NHL draft is head on June 29th but that I doubt is written in stone because the Ranger coach has the least to do with the draft. Me I would ask Phoenix permission to talk to Dave Tippett who's contract has expired and was also in line for the Ranger job that went to Bryan Trottier.
I bet a day does not go by when Sather goes "what if" considering what Tippett has done with both Dallas and Phoenix. I know whenever I watch a Coyote game I sure ask that question.
And I know Dave Tippett would answer it nicely too.