When asked if he would return following the conclusion of his current contract, Henrik Lundqvist seem to indicate that he might be open to exploring other avenues. Clearly the Rangers’ netminder felt frustrated at the lack of offensive support he got, and has gotten under Tortorella’s coaching tenure.
It’s this sort of frustration, and four failed playoff campaigns that likely condemned Tortorella to his fate. The Rangers were competitive more often than not with Tortorella at the helm, but the “play not to lose” system that Tortorella based his coaching style on could only take the team so far.
The inability for Marian Gaborik and now Rick Nash to prosper in the model perhaps also was part of the decision making, as perhaps was the speedy decline of Brad Richards, but if the results had been there, perhaps things would have been different.
It’s fair to say Tortorella has done pretty well with the team during the regular season, taking them to the playoffs in four of his five seasons, with the one miss being a Game 82 shoot out loss elimination to the Philadelphia Flyers.
Overall he finished fifth in regular season games coached – 8 behind Tom Renney – fourth in wins and fourth in winning percentage, all solid performances behind the likes of Emile Francis, Lester Patrick and Frank Boucher.
In the post season, his record was less impressive. Although he did make the four post season appearances, he finished with a modest 19-25 record in the post season, just the 11th best win percentage amongst Ranger coaches in the playoffs.
Over the four seasons, he lead the Rangers to a 3-4 series record in the seven series the Rangers play, with two wins and two losses coming against the Capitals. Also worth noting, that four of the series went to 7 games, another to 6 games and a further two to 5 games.
Another area of concern for Tortorella was the power play. Over the past two regular seasons, the Rangers finished 23rd in the league on the PP, and dead last in the post season – aside from Minnesota who were eliminated by Chicago in five games in the first round.
When he took over in 2009 the Rangers finished second to last, he did manage to improve to 13th the next year, but from then on it’s deteriorated to 18th and then 23rd. The Penalty Kill has been strong for the most part, but suffered this past season with a middle of the road 15th.
Who will be the Rangers’ 34th coach – 42nd if you count sequels – remains unknown at this point, but Sather – who will return next season – clearly wanted access to a market which has some candidates.