John Tortorella

Taxi! Rangers fire Tortorella


The New York Rangers have fired head coach John Tortorella, according to ESPN’s Katie Strang.

Update: The Rangers have confirmed the dismissal.

Tortorella, 54, had been the head coach in New York since 2008-09, and led the Rangers to three consecutive playoff appearances, including the Eastern Conference finals in 2011-12.

New York’s 2013 season and playoffs were a disappointment to many, though, as the Rangers finished sixth in the East and were bounced in the second round of the playoffs — a five-game loss to Boston during which Tortorella controversially dropped Brad Richards from the final two games of the series.

Many critics have also pointed to Tortorella’s inability to coax offense out of a lineup that features no shortage of high-priced talent up front. New York averaged just 2.2 goals per game in the 2013 playoffs.

Last year, the Rangers scored three or fewer goals in all but one of their 20 postseason games.

According to a source of CBC’s Elliotte Friedman, comments made by Henrik Lundqvist at the end of the season “changed everything” for the Rangers.

What comments, you ask?

Possibly these:

“I think it’s a –- it is a step back. We went to the conference finals last year, we had high expectations for ourselves this year; it didn’t go our way. So yeah, this is a step back, but it’s tough to make it there.

“You can’t just expect it to happen. You have to work really hard, and you have to do a lot of things right, and you have to have a lot of good bounces on the way to make it there.”

Lundqvist was also non-committal about signing an extension with the Rangers beyond his current deal, which expires in 2013-14.

This likely drew concern among the Rangers brass, as the reigning Vezina winner (and nominee this year) has been the team MVP seven years in a row.

Update: Torts’ best sound bites…


Cocaine in the NHL: A concern, but not a crisis?

Montreal Canadiens v Minnesota Wild
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Does the NHL have a cocaine problem?

TSN caught up with deputy commissioner Bill Daly, who provided some fascinating insight:

“The number of [cocaine] positives are more than they were in previous years and they’re going up,” Daly said. “I wouldn’t say it’s a crisis in any sense. What I’d say is drugs like cocaine are cyclical and you’ve hit a cycle where it’s an ‘in’ drug again.”


Daly said that he’d be surprised  “if we’re talking more than 20 guys” and then touched on something that may be a problem: they don’t test it in a “comprehensive way.”

As Katie Strang’s essential ESPN article about the Los Angeles Kings’ tough season explored in June, there are some challenges for testing for a drug like cocaine. That said, there are also some limitations that may raise some eyebrows.

For one, it metabolizes quickly. Michael McCabe, a Philadelphia-based toxicology expert who works for Robson Forensic, told that, generally speaking, cocaine filters out of the system in two to four days, making it relatively easy to avoid a flag in standard urine tests.

The NHL-NHLPA’s joint drug-testing program is not specifically designed to target recreational drugs such as cocaine or marijuana. The Performance Enhancing Substances Program is put into place to do exactly that — screen for performance-enhancing drugs.

So, are “party drugs” like cocaine and molly an issue for the NHL?

At the moment, the answer almost seems to be: “the league hopes not.”

Daly goes into plenty of detail on the issue, so read the full TSN article for more.

Jason Demers tweets #FreeTorres, gets mocked

Los Angeles Kings v San Jose Sharks - Game One

Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.

We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.

It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”

Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)

Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.

So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”

… You get the idea.

The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.

The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.