NEW YORK, N.Y. — The New York Rangers have fired head coach John Tortorella after another disappointing early exit from the playoffs, the National Hockey League (NHL) team said on Wednesday.
The decision to release Tortorella, an outspoken coach who has been fined several times by the NHL for his often brusque style with the media, comes four days after the Rangers were eliminated in the Eastern Conference semi-finals.
Tortorella played hockey at the University of Maine from 1978-1981 after transferring from Salem State College. He ranks sixth in career penalty minutes with 218.
It marked a disappointing end to a season that started with high expectations after Tortorella led the team to their second most wins all-time with 51 during the 2011-12 campaign before falling in the conference finals.
“Every coach has a shelf life,” Rangers General Manager Glen Sather told reporters on a conference call. “I’ve told every guy that I’ve hired that at some point in time it’s going to change.
“Our goal is to win the Stanley Cup. And we didn’t achieve that goal this year and I had to make the decision and I did.”
Sather made no other staff changes, saying further decisions would wait for the team’s organizational meetings next month. He also said he hoped to have a new head coach in place before the NHL Draft on June 30.
Tortorella, 54, compiled a 171-115-29 record with New York since being named the 34th coach in Rangers franchise history in February 2009. He was also an assistant coach for the Rangers for the 1999-2000 campaign, where he served as head coach for the final four games of the season.
Prior to rejoining the Rangers, Tortorella coached the Tampa Bay Lightning for seven seasons and, in 2004, led them to a Stanley Cup championship and was named coach of the year.
For his career, Tortorella has compiled a 410-330-37-67 record and ranks first on the NHL’s all-time wins list among U.S.-born head coaches.
During his tenure with the Rangers, the team missed the playoffs once, suffered two opening-round exits and lost in the conference semi-finals and finals once each.
“It wasn’t one thing,” said Sather, who told also reporters that Tortorella was shocked when told he was fired.
“After the analytical work that we do every year at the end of the season, trying to decide how we are going to improve the team and how we are going to move forward, this is the decision that I made.”