Rangers fire coach John Tortorella

The Rangers fired combative coach John Tortorella on Wednesday, four days after New York was eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Tortorella was unexpectedly dismissed with one year left on his contract. He led the Rangers to the Eastern Conference finals last year and into the second round this year before New York was eliminated in five games by the Boston Bruins.

The fiery Tortorella, who was hired to replace Tom Renney in February 2009, achieved some success with the Rangers but couldn't match the Stanley Cup title he earned in 2004 with Tampa Bay.

Rangers general manager Glen Sather met with the media via a conference call Wednesday afternoon. He did not a name an immediate replacement, but hopes to have one in place by the June 30 NHL draft in Newark, N.J.

"I felt this was a decision that had to be made going forward," Sather said. "I think he was shocked, but he is a gentleman and he took it very well."

Last season, Tortorella led the Rangers to 51 wins - the second-most in franchise history - and 109 points before they were beaten in six games by New Jersey in the conference finals. He finished his Rangers tenure in fourth place on the team's career coaching wins list.

The 54-year-old Tortorella got the Rangers back into the playoffs in this lockout-shortened season, and New York outlasted Washington in seven games in the first round of the playoffs before being knocked out by Boston.

Tortorella made curious comments on Monday when the Rangers packed up for the season, which could have led to his ouster. In his final meeting with reporters, Tortorella said his club wasn't emotionally ready to take on Boston after getting past Washington with back-to-back shutout wins when it faced elimination.

"One of the things, and it falls on my shoulders, is our team's mindset going into another round," Tortorella said. "I don't think our mindset was ready to play another series and to the level you need to be at. It didn't have a playoff atmosphere.

"That's what I struggle with right now. I didn't do a good enough job in correcting and getting their mindset back to not only play at the level of a Game 7 in the first round but get ready for round 2, which is always going to be tougher."

- The Associated Press

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