John Tortorella Fired: The Blood Isn't On The Player's Hands, Even If It Actually Is
It doesn't matter why Tortorella was fired if the players didn't think they can win with him at the helm.
It's surprising that in the wake of John Tortorella getting fired many fans are nervous that the players seemed to have a hand in the decision. Depending on who you choose to believe, the players were either the main reason Tortorella was given his pink slip, part of the reason he was fired or they didn't play a role in the decision at all.
The truth probably lies between the first two thoughts.
It's clear that something was wrong. It was clear from the moment Henrik Lundqvist started talking about his future at breakup day (comments I still think were largely taken out of context, especially with the way they were portrayed to the public originally) or the second Ryan Callahan and other leaders of the team discussed how this season was a "step backwards" while Tortorella called it a "sideways step." And, apparently, it was clear that the players weren't completely shocked by Glen Sather's decision to give Tortorella the axe.
In the opening moments of Tortorella being fired the entire situation played out like a murder mystery. Tortorella was gone, that we knew, but we weren't sure who was responsible or what the motive was. Today (two days later) we still don't really know the who or the why, but it's become increasingly clear that a group of players (or maybe most of the players, but who knows) had a hand in this.
Which has thrown some fans into a bit of a panic.
No fan loves when a player gets too much power and starts making front office decisions for the organization. And I agree, when that starts happening there are organizational problems that root much deeper than just coaching. But generally in the NHL that doesn't happen very often. And when it does fans are usually unhappy and the responsible parties get their reputations stained even though most people probably don't know just how much involvement they had (the whole Alex Ovechkin thing comes to mind).
This situation is different. This isn't Dwight Howard getting a coach fired because he isn't getting the ball enough. This isn't even a single superstar player making the call that he isn't getting enough ice time and he's giving the general manager an ultimatum. This was - presumably - a group of players (and higher level players from what I can gather) that told Sather Tortorella's antics had officially gotten in the way of the Rangers' success. And if that's true, then why on earth would they just sit back and waste another season?
If the players truly felt that the system and the personality behind Tortorella was beginning to wear on the room and fracture the team's successful foundation then who are we to judge? This isn't Lundqvist telling Sather "fire Tortorella or I'm not signing a long-term extension," this isn't even Callahan going to Sather an telling him "remove Tortorella or else."
This is the Rangers, as a group, letting Glen Sather know they don't think they're moving in the right direction with Tortorella at the helm. This is not a bunch of crying, spoiled players getting mad because they're being pushed too hard. This is not a group of highly-paid, low-tolerance players throwing a temper tantrum.
If Tortorella lost the room -- something which seems to be a certainty right now - should it matter why he lost it? Should it matter where it started? Some reports claim the Rangers started tuning Tortorella out in February. Even if that was in late February it still means the best case scenario is that a month into the season the Rangers weren't getting Tortorella's message. That's a problem. And a problem that has to be fixed as soon as it's located.
The team knows a whole hell of a lot more about the way things were going than you, me or any of the talking heads in the media. If they felt this was the right move to push the team in the right direction then who are we to question them? They know things we simply don't.
Now it's their turn to show us they're doing the right thing.
If they did anything at all.