Speculation had run rampant that Tortorella had potentially reached the end of the line after an early exit from the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs. Despite entering the season as a heavy favorite to win the Eastern Conference, the Rangers failed to live up to expectation and barely qualified for the postseason.
While performance was likely a factor in the dismissal, there also appeared to be potential personality conflicts with the coach's abrasive style. Forward Marian Gaborik and Tortorella appeared to have a strained relationship that ended with Gaborik being traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets. In addition, Tortorella publicly stated that Carl Hagelin "stinks" and benched Brad Richards in the team's final elimination games. These are a few examples of issues that potentially existed between the coach and his players.
His press conferences were also proof enough of how straightforward and harsh the coach could be.
Tortorella was originally hired in February of 2009. During his time with the team, he collected a regular season record of 171-115-29 and led the Rangers to the playoffs on three occasions. During the 2013 postseason, the team fell two games shy of earning their first Eastern Conference championship since 1994.
As of Wednesday afternoon, there are two other head coaching vacancies as the Dallas Stars and Vancouver Canucks are without bench bosses. Whether Tortorella plans on pursuing these opportunities remains to be seen. Prior to taking the Rangers' job, Tortorella had coached the Tampa Bay Lightning for seven seasons and led the team to its only Stanley Cup in 2004.
After his final season with the Lightning in 2008, Tortorella joined TSN as a panelist before being hired by New York. Given his terse relationship with the media, many would find it ironic to have him back as an analyst.