NHL

Tortorella named Rangers' new head coach

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Bob McKenzie
2/24/2009 2:22:53 AM
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John Tortorella will be coaching the New York Rangers.

Sources said he was on his way to New York on Monday night, and that whatever issues exist between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Rangers are not expected to prevent him from taking over the Blueshirts following Tom Renney's firing.

But that doesn't mean the issues between the two teams have been solved.

''It's very complex,'' one source said.

But it would appear that all involved are now acknowledging Tortorella is going to coach the team.

Tortorella's path to the Rangers job was cleared, sources say, because the Lightning gave Tortorella written permission in June to seek other employment and that permission was never revoked.

But sources say there are still some outstanding issues that have clouded the whole situation, involving other members of the Tampa Bay organization. The Rangers and the Lightning, with the input of the NHL, are attempting to resolve them and while a negotiated settlement is possible, it could well be that formal tampering charges could be filed by the Lightning against the Rangers before all is said and done.

This may have something to do with Lightning assistant coach Mike Sullivan, who reportedly has a clause in his contract that he could join Tortorella if Tortorella were to be named head coach elsewhere in the NHL.

But whatever issues exist between the two teams, they are not enough to prevent Tortorella from being on the ice with the Rangers at practice on Tuesday morning.

''Torts is going to bring a lot more fire to his approach,'' Rangers general manager Glen Sather told THE CANADIAN PRESS. ''I just felt that we needed to get more fire in there.''

Tortorella led the Lightning to the franchise's first Stanley Cup title in the 2003-04 season as the Bolts defeated the Calgary Flames in seven games.  His 239 career wins is second to only Peter Laviolette as the most ever by an American-born NHL coach.

The Boston-born Tortorella began his NHL coaching career as an assistant with the Buffalo Sabres in 1989.  He then captured the AHL's Calder Cup in 1996 as head coach of the Rochester Americans.

Tortorella replaced Steve Ludzik as Tampa Bay's head coach in 2001.  The Lightning reached the playoff four times on Tortorella's watch, winning the Southeast division twice in the process.

Tortorella was fired by the Lightning after the team missed the playoffs last season.  He was immediately scooped up by TSN, joining the NHL on TSN panel.

John Tortorella (Photo: Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

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(Photo: Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)
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