Thursday, May 30, 2013

Audio and Highlights From Glen Sather's Conference Call With Media

Glen Sather met with the media yesterday afternoon after firing John Tortorella. Among the few highlights of his conference call, he did say that he expects to have a new head coach in place by the time the 2013 Entry Level Draft takes place, which is on June 30.

You can read the entire transcript of Glen Sather's conference call with the media, courtesy of SNYRangers, here and you can also listen to the audio itself, courtesy of Rangers Report, here.

I don't know if we'll ever get all of the details on what specifically led to the firing of John Tortorella. Glen Sather really didn't say much during his conference call, which was to be expected, but he did say that Tortorella was "a little bit shocked" when he found out he was being fired, and that it wasn't any one specific thing that made him reach the decision to pull the plug on Torts' Rangers coaching career. To me, that means this was a decision that was made within the last day or two. When John Tortorella met with the media on Monday during breakup day he didn't talk like a dead man walking who was expecting to be canned. He talked a lot about next season and areas the Rangers organization needed to address when they met for organizational meetings in late June. None of the Rangers beat reporters predicted this, either. The general assumption from everybody was that Torts was safe. Even though John Tortorella denied that Henrik Lundqvist's comments had anything to do with their decision, I'm not entirely sure I believe that. I don't think for a second that Lundqvist met with the Rangers' brass behind John Tortorella's back and told them the only way he would re-sign long-term would be if Torts was fired, but I do believe his comments caused Glen Sather and co. to rethink things as far as the strategy of the team moving forward.

Unsurprisingly, Slats said that he plans to re-sign Henrik Lundqvist to a long-term contract. He also wouldn't comment on whether or not the Rangers would bring back Brad Richards next year, and only said it was something the higher ups would discuss at the organizational meetings next month. What I did think was interesting, though, was that Sather said the decision to make Richards a healthy scratch for the final two games of the series was a group decision that John Tortorella didn't make on his own. I'm not sure how much I believe that, but if it's true I think it speaks volumes on how quickly the entire organization has soured on Richards.

One other thing from Sather's conference call that I thought it was interesting was when he said he considered this season to be a failure because the Rangers didn't win a Stanley Cup. That thinking coincides with what Lundqvist said during breakup day, but it also somewhat goes against with what Torts said. He only referred to this season as "a step sideways," which I thought at the time was interesting considering the Rangers had more than enough talent to make a deeper run in the playoffs this season.

The bottom line is this: John Tortorella was not the right man for this job. I wrote a few days ago that I wasn't sure he was the right man for this job given the personnel the Rangers have and the style he insisted on them playing, and ultimately I guess Glen Sather felt the same way. It was one thing to focus primarily on shot blocking and winning 2-1 games with last year's roster, but Torts never adjusted his system to fit the styles of his top offensive players coming into this season, namely Rick Nash, Marian Gaborik, Derek Stepan and Brad Richards. I also do believe his mishandling of Chris Kreider this season played a part in Torts' dismissal. The Rangers organization is clearly extremely high on Kreider as evidenced by Sather's willingness to burn one year on his Entry Level contract just to have him for the playoffs a year ago, and Tortorella really didn't utilize him to his best abilities.

So, now the question immediately becomes who the Rangers will target now for their head coaching opening. The top candidates that I've seen being thrown around on Twitter so far are Lindy Ruff, Alaine Vigneault, Dave Tippett and dark-horse candidate Ken Gernander. I think Ruff would be a perfect fit here and would bring a strong offensive system while he also knows how to build a strong defensive game from the net on out after his time with Ryan Miller in Buffalo. Tippett would be my second favorite choice, but he's still currently the head coach of the Phoenix Coyotes and there are no guarantees that he'll be available just yet. Vigneault, I have zero interest in. He's had a ton of success in the regular season while coaching the Vancouver Canucks, but his playoff record has been awful. Gernander is an interesting name, as he's currently the head coach of the Connecticut Whale/Hartford Wolfpack. I do think the Rangers will target someone with more experience, though, given that this is a veteran team.

One thing I can say is that Rangers fans should not expect assistant coach Mike Sullivan to be brought back next year. Sather said there were no other changes to his coaching staff that he was prepared to make at this time, but whoever he hires as head coach will want to bring in their own staff to run their own system. The only assistant who I think will definitely be brought back is Benoit Allaire, who is thought of highly and has an outstanding relationship with Marty Biron and Henrik Lundqvist.

We'll see what happens. I think Sather will try and act relatively quickly to find a new head coach and I wouldn't be surprised if the Rangers hire somebody within the next week or two.


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