There were serious rumblings that Henrik Lundqvist was one of the New York Rangers’ anonymous “top players” who called for the firing of John Tortorella, but the star goalie told the New York Post that wasn’t the case on Wednesday.
“I know there is some speculation regarding Torts being fired, but let’s be clear on one thing,” Lundqvist said via an e-mail. “It’s not my call who the coach should be for the New York Rangers.”
“I would never put pressure on the management on decisions like that. I’m just a player. My focus is to play the game and do the best I can on the ice. Whatever [happens] off the ice, I leave to our great staff we have working for this club.”
Of course, there’s always the possibility that he didn’t say Tortorella shouldn’t be fired, either. Perhaps he provided deafening silence on the matter instead?
(The CBC’s Elliotte Friedman cited an unnamed source that said Lundqvist’s comments “changed everything.”)
Beyond being the team’s go-to guy, the 31-year-old’s comments (or maybe lack of praise?) carry extra weight because he’s in the final year of his current deal. He insisted that the head coach in charge doesn’t affect his contract status, however.
“It has no impact for me on who the coach is when it comes to my contract,” Lundqvist said. “I love everything about the New York Rangers. I love the fans. I love the organization.”
“I hope we can work something out when it is time to do so.”
It’s worth mentioning that Tortorella refrained from critiquing Lundqvist after games and accepted the blame for the top players’ struggles.
Beyond that, there are plenty of candidates who might have said something – or worse things – than Lundqvist, anyway. Perhaps the guy who made a $12 million salary yet was a healthy scratch for the Rangers’ final two playoff games did some venting?
Rangers fire Tortorella
What they’re saying about the firing
Former New York Rangers bench boss John Tortorella will have a second interview with Vancouver about its vacant head coaching gig this week, according to CBC’s Elliotte Friedman.
News of a second interview comes days after The Province reported Torts’ first discussion with Canucks brass “went over extremely well.”
This has led many to speculate the 2004 Jack Adams winner is a frontrunner for the job.
Here’s more, from Friedman:
Information about his first one is not exactly flowing across the atmosphere, but it sounds like a lot of time was spent discussing media interaction.
The Canucks don’t want daily craziness and Tortorella apparently understands he will have to be different.
Vancouver is the hardest English market in the NHL. There is no doubt the man can coach, but [Canucks GM Mike] Gillis’ toughest decision may be whether or not he truly believes Tortorella can handle it.
Another rumored leading candidate for the gig, Los Angeles assistant John Stevens, is also believed to have a second interview lined up for this week, though there’s been no confirmation that it’ll happen.
Yesterday it was reported that the Dallas Stars are interested in former New York Rangers head coach John Tortorella. It turns out they might have some competition.
The Vancouver Canucks are talking to Tortorella and he’s regarded as a strong candidate to be the team’s next bench boss, according to RDS’ Renaud Lavoie.
Tortorella would bring with him a no-nonsense approach and an emphasis on gritty, body-sacrificing play to a team that ranked near the bottom of the league in hits and blocked shots this season.
Of course, he’s also known for his signature way of handling the media. Imagine the quotes that this year’s goaltending controversy between Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo might have produced…
Tortorella led the Tampa Bay Lightning to a Stanley Cup championship in 2004 and took the New York Rangers to the Eastern Conference finals in 2012. Meanwhile, the Canucks have excelled in the regular season over the last two campaigns, but have promptly collapsed in the playoffs.
Maybe, just maybe.
The Dallas Stars are reportedly showing interest in John Tortorella for their vacant head coaching position, according to a source of ESPN New York.
Tortorella, 54, was fired by the Rangers two weeks ago after a second-round playoff exit to Boston.
There’s not much linking Tortorella to the Stars franchise. He’s coached almost exclusively in the Eastern Conference over his 23-year NHL career — save a brief two-season stop with the Phoenix Coyotes in the late ’90s — and doesn’t appear to have much of a past working relationship with any of the Stars brass.
That said, new Dallas GM Jim Nill promised an exhaustive, thorough search to find his next head coach, so kicking the tires on Tortorella could simply be part of the process.
Tortorella is still being paid by the Rangers — he signed a contract extension during the ’13 regular season — so it’s expected that New York won’t stand in his way should he want to pursue a new job.
Yesterday on a conference call with reporters, Rangers general manager Glen Sather admitted his explanation for firing head coach John Tortorella may seem “a little vague.”
Today, we wonder if Sather had good reason to avoid getting into specifics.
According to a Daily News source, “multiple players,” including some “top guys,” pushed for Tortorella’s dismissal after the Rangers were eliminated by the Bruins.
Presumably, the lobbying occurred in the players’ exit interviews.
The report didn’t specify which players wanted the combative coach gone, but it does make one wonder if Sean Avery was on to something back in March when the former Ranger tweeted, “Fire this CLOWN, his players hate him and wont play for his BS.”
It also may lend credence to the report by Hockey Night in Canada’s Elliotte Friedman that goalie Henrik Lundqvist’s noncommittal response to a question about re-signing in New York was a factor in Tortorella’s firing.
Frankly, it’s not hard to come up with players that may have had a problem with Tortorella. Brad Richards for getting scratched in Games 4 and 5 of the Boston series. Carl Hagelin for hearing over and over that he “stinks” on the power play. The list goes on and on.
“Every coach has a shelf life,” Sather said.
Related: What they’re saying about the Tortorella firing