The Rangers fired head coach Tom Renney on Monday, hours after the Rangers lost 3-2 in overtime to the Toronto Maple Leafs to fall to within two points of ninth place in the Eastern Conference. Renney had been the team's coach for more than five years and is fourth all-time among Ranger coaches in wins but the lifeless play over the last month caught up with him.
The team hasn't announced his replacement yet, although G.M. Glen Sather has stepped behind the bench in the past when the Rangers needed a coach. Another front office executive, Jim Schoenfeld, has head coaching experience as well. Mike Pelino, the only assistant retained from Renney's staff, could be a candidate as well. The team's next game isn't until Wednesday night in Toronto, so they've got a couple of days to sort it all out.
Renney made some questionable lineup decisions this season, most notably his continued support of forward Aaron Voros who has contributed very little. Meanwhile, Petr Prucha, a goal scorer on a team that doesn't score enough goals, was consistently a healthy scratch. Renney also became a bit too enamored of constantly shifting lines. That makes sense, the Rangers needed a spark, but they were never able to generate a consistent attack as a result.
That said, Renney didn't do an awful job of playing the hand he was dealt by Sather. Renney wasn't the guy who signed the dismal duo of Dmitri Kalinin and Wade Redden to play defense, and he wasn't the one who decided to let Sean Avery, Jaromir Jagr and Brendan Shanahan walk away with every ounce of edge and toughness of last year's Ranger team. The three guys expected to fill the void -- Chris Drury, Scott Gomez and Markus Naslund -- have failed miserably and the lack of leadership has been acute on a team that's been mediocre since a 10-2-1 start.
All of that falls on Sather. That's why he should probably be the man to steer the ship he built for the rest of the season. If it ends up laid up on the rocks, as it appears it might, he should be following Renney onto the unemployment line. How many players and coaches can a general manager run through, without any titles, before he's held accountable?
A while longer it seems. Late Monday, word broke that the Rangers and former Tampa Bay Lightning coach John Tortorella reached an agreement to make Tortorella the team's new coach. The deal hasn't been made official, however, because Tortorella's contract with the Lightning isn't up yet and Tampa wants compensation in exchange for the man who coached them to a Stanley Cup.