Did Torts deserve to be fired?
THUMBS DOWN FROM THE KING
John Tortorella had to go the minute goaltender Henrik Lundqvist replied "we'll see" when asked about signing a long-term contract extension, and the New York Rangers made the right decision by firing the coach Wednesday.
Tortorella did a lot of good things for the Rangers -- taking them as far as the Eastern Conference finals during his five seasons behind the bench -- but they could never quite get over the hump with the fiery coach at the helm.
After acquiring Rick Nash in a blockbuster trade, expectations were high for the Blueshirts this season, and they failed to meet them.
Throughout the playoffs, the Rangers struggled to score on the power play (4-for-44) and their star offensive players failed to produce. Ryan Callahan had just two goals, while Nash and Brad Richards, who was benched at the end of the Bruins series and could be bought out in the offseason, each had one.
In the end, it didn't matter how good Lundqvist was, because he got no help.
Still, it was surprising when the star goaltender seemed noncommittal about his future with the team after saying the group took a "step back." Management must've seen those comments, which had to raise a red flag that changes were necessary.
If Tortorella had a full training camp and it wasn't a lockout-shortened season, who knows, maybe things would've been different. But when it came down to it -- and many players, such as Sean Avery and Matthew Barnaby, tweeted this after hearing the news -- Tortorella wasn't a fun coach to play for, often criticizing his players. And his team's style of play -- grind-it-out, black-and-blue -- never changed, when maybe it should've.
So the franchise has decided to move in another direction. Names like Lindy Ruff and Alain Vigneault have already surfaced as possible replacements.
Let the search begin.
Mike Mazzeo is a regular contributor for ESPNNewYork.com
FLAWED ROSTER, SHORT SEASON
Before John Tortorella took over as the coach of the Rangers during the 2008-09 season, the Rangers had a total of two playoff series wins in the previous 10 seasons. Since then, Torts' teams have produced three playoff series victories and the team's first trip to the conference finals since 1996-97.
And the Rangers don't think he's worth keeping around?
While the Rangers may not have had the success they wanted this season, it's tough to judge any coach by what happened this season. Tortorella's teams are built around a hard-working, blue-collar identity, and it's tough to implement that type of attitude during a shortened season. The Rangers also overhauled their offense with the addition of Rick Nash.
In addition, Tortorella was working with a flawed roster this season, and it can be argued he took this team as far as it could go. The Rangers were top-heavy for most of the season, really gaining the proper depth needed across all lines only when they traded Marian Gaborik at the trade deadline.
Prior to that trade, the Rangers seemingly could count on production only from whichever line Nash played on. It's not easy to win hockey games in the NHL when you're getting little to no production out of your bottom six forwards. That's one reason the Rangers weren't able to play at a consistently high level this season.
The playoffs may have ended with a whimper, as the Rangers barely put up a fight against Boston, but they were one of the final eight teams left. The team looked better as the season went on, and Tortorella guided the Rangers back from a 3-2 series deficit against Washington.
Just one year ago, in a full season, Tortorella had the Rangers two wins away from the Stanley Cup finals. Now, he's not the right guy to lead the group? It may not be long before the Rangers realize that making decisions based on a shortened season isn't the right way to operate.
Matt Ehalt is a regular contributor for ESPNNewYork.com