New York Rangers Fire John Tortorella

Just days after losing Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, the New York Rangers have already started a team shakeup. Earlier Wednesday, Rangers management fired head coach John Tortorella after five seasons behind the bench in Manhattan. Tortorella served as head coach since February 2009, and went 171-144 in the regular season with the Rangers.

Tortorella was known for his fiery personality, both on the bench and in front of the media. His Rangers teams were known for their physical style of play, selfless defensive ability, and propensity for fighting opponents. Tortorella coached the Tampa Bay Lightning to a Stanley Cup victory in 2004, and leads American coaches in career wins with 410.

The Rangers lost twice in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals to the Washington Capitals in 2009 and 2011, before breaking through in 2012. That season, the Rangers led the Eastern Conference with 109 points and reached the Conference Finals before losing in six games to their rival New Jersey Devils. The Rangers won each of their three playoff series under Tortorella in seven games, including this year in the Conference Quarterfinals against the Washington Capitals.

Tortorella also brought several big name stars to Broadway to lead the Rangers during his tenure. In 2011, the Rangers signed forward Brad Richards to a nine-year contract worth $58.5 million. Richards, currently 33, previously won the Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe Trophy under Tortorella in Tampa Bay. This past offseason, the Rangers brought in prolific goalscorer Rick Nash from the Columbus Blue Jackets to strengthen the front lines. Still, the Rangers could not find their niche from the previous season and finished in sixth place in the East, losing to the second-seeded Bruins in the second round.

Now the New York Rangers enter a period of uncertainty headed into the offseason. Tortorella is gone, and Brad Richards will likely become victim to the NHL’s new amnesty clause, which allows teams to buy out a player’s contract. This means that Richards (7 years, $36 million remaining) would be paid his $36 million over the next 14 years. Chances are, though, both men will find jobs soon enough.

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