Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Ding Dong, Torts Is Gone

Glen Sather sent another coach packing today, as he issued a pink slip to John Tortorella. That's the fifth bench boss of the general manager's time atop the Ranger ladder, if you count Sather himself.

But as the Stealth GM - as the Pundit calls him - survives to smoke another cigar, Torts now has more time to spend with his dogs. Good riddance. It was a long time coming, and yet a surprise just the same. If any coach had excuses for a disappointing season, it was Torts. No training camp, new players to integrate, injuries to prime players, few top prospects ready to fill spots ... all solid justification for bringing him back in the fall.

Sather didn't see it that way, and the firing helps the tin hat folks who are searching for c-o-n-spiracies. The coach and the GM had a fight, the GM was offended by the coach's comments, the GM was scared at the reports that the King might not come back. My theory? It goes back to what I said when Brad Richard$ was brought in: Dolan needs a winning team to fill the fixed-up Garden. The reno is finishing this summer and the Blueshirt brass need to start paying it off. Doing that will require massive corporate money and massive corporate money comes with Cups.

The scary part of that is it makes it all but certain that Sather will sign a 'name' coach to step behind the bench, with Alain Vigneault and Lindy Ruff the biggest candidates. Neither one have won a Cup and, frankly, neither one is likely ever to. Both have failed in the Finals once, both lasted past their expiration dates at their former jobs and both were given all the talent in the world by their bosses and botched it. Other top options being floated are Dave Tippett, Dallas Eakins and Ken Gernander. Kenny G and Dallas are great AHL minds but have yet to be blooded at the elite level and the likelihood of Tippett leaving Phoenix now that his boss and buddy Don Maloney has re-upped is slight. He is a great, great coach, but why would he leave what he has built for Broadway? Money does move the world but the Yotes' ownership saga may be nearing its end.

The guy I would bring in for an interview would be Davis Payne. The assistant coach of the L.A. Kings spent two-plus seasons in St. Louis as the head coach and left with a solid 67-55-15 record despite having an unremarkable, rebuilding Blues squad. Working against him is that he isn't a "name" and the fact that he is still with a team active in the playoffs so the interview will be quite close to Sather's deadline of the draft.

Whoever it ends up being, at least he won't be the tumultuous Tortorella. His errors were egregious, his ego tremendous, his results mediocre. For all the talk about last season's success, Torts' mismanagement was the singular reason why they fell short of Stanley. And, as written here a few days ago, losing to Boston wouldn't be shameful if the team had played to the utmost of their ability. They didn't, so the bench boss had to pay.

Hopefully the next guy will find better results. 

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