Back in May, almost immediately after John Tortorella was fired as head coach in New York, it was reported that “multiple players” — including some “top guys” — had pushed for his ousting.
At the time, it seemed to be the classic case of a bench boss whose brash personality had worn out its welcome with his troops.
“Every coach has a shelf life,” is all Rangers general manager Glen Sather would say, refusing to go into specific details.
But today, Sather gave the Daily News a more thorough explanation, and it had more to do with X’s and O’s than Tortorella’s disposition.
“If you look at these playoff games (like the Stanley Cup Finals matchup) you’re gonna see tonight, the style that they play, I mean there’s not a hell of a lot of dump-ins,” Sather said. “I mean, (if) you have to dump the puck in, you have to dump it. But there’s a lot of puck control and hanging onto the puck and moving the puck out, and there’s not stopping behind the net to gain control. There’s a lot of things that are done differently than what we were doing. So you have to look at the style of play. That had a lot to do with (the decision to fire Tortorella), too.”
Sather added: “He’s a good coach. (But) I think the game has changed.”
Obviously, that’s interesting from a Rangers’ perspective.
But it’s also interesting from a Vancouver Canucks’ perspective, since Tortorella is reportedly one of the final candidates to replace Alain Vigneault, who will be introduced as the new head coach of the Rangers on Friday.
Because here’s what Canucks general manager Mike Gillis said when he fired Vigneault last month: “I think that the NHL is changing and evolving rapidly and we’re going to listen and talk to the people we think are legitimate candidates and we’ll make our decision based on that interview process.”
In fact, a couple of weeks earlier, after the Canucks had been swept out of the first round by the Sharks, Gillis had suggested the NHL was trending towards dump-and-chase hockey, not away from it, as Sather seemed to suggest today.
“Clearly the landscape has changed and we have to address those changes,” Gillis said. “We have to recognize and evolve with it.”
So perhaps it makes perfect sense after all that Vigneault and Tortorella could end up swapping benches for next season.