Rangers fire coach John Tortorella

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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.

“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.”

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.”

Even though the Rangers were knocked out earlier this year, Tortorella emphatically stated he didn’t believe the team regressed.

“I know the surrounding feeling here is that it was a negative season, a disappointing season. I don’t buy it and I won’t,” Tortorella said. “There are some good things that happened. I don’t think we took a step backward. I think this is a sideways step in our lineup and how things worked out.

“We played really well our last couple of months to get in, found a way to win a big series against Washington, and against Boston I thought we competed right to the end.”

However, starting goalie Henrik Lundqvist disagreed with that assessment. Lundqvist is entering the final year of his contract and would be eligible to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

“It is a step back,” Lundqvist said. “We were in the conference finals last year, we had high expectations on ourselves this year. It didn’t go our way, so yeah it is a step back. It’s tough to make it there, though. You can’t just expect it to happen.”

Sather said he hadn’t talked to Lundqvist, but added the team’s plan is to sign him to a new long-term deal.

The Rangers entered the 48-game season as a prime contender to win the Stanley Cup, especially after the offseason acquisition of top forward Rick Nash in a trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

After a slow start, the Rangers rallied to a 26-18-4 record and the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

But New York struggled to score in the postseason, and Nash and Brad Richards were among the biggest offenders. Nash recorded only one goal and five assists in the Rangers‘ 12 playoff games.

Richards, who has seven years remaining on a nine-year deal, was a bigger disappointment and was a healthy scratch by Tortorella in the final two games against the Bruins. Sather said that move was an organizational decision.

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