Torts won't 'criticize' Rangers' struggles

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- In his first trip back to New York since getting the ax from the New York Rangers last spring, John Tortorella refused to take the bait when asked about his former team’s struggles.

The Rangers, who dismissed Tortorella after the team’s second-round exit from the playoffs, have stumbled to a 2-5-0 start this season under new coach Alain Vigneault. Tortorella and Vigneault traded places, with the former taking the head-coaching job in Vancouver.

“I don’t work there anymore and I’m certainly not going to criticize. I know nothing about what’s going on with the club. That’s not fair to anybody,” Tortorella said during the Vancouver Canucks' morning skate Tuesday on Long Island.

Tortorella’s firing wasn’t exactly a surprising one -- his harsh, tough-love personality had worn thin among his charges -- but he did have success during his time coaching in New York.

Prior to last year’s playoff appearance, Tortorella led the Rangers to the Eastern Conference finals.

Tortorella also cultivated a strong, hardworking identity for the Blueshirts, one that hasn’t been apparent in the opening weeks of this season.

The Rangers may not miss his daily barking, but they are no longer reaping the benefits of a stingy, defense-minded system that allowed them to grind teams down and rack up wins.

Meanwhile, Tortorella’s new team in Vancouver hasn’t taken the Western Conference by storm, either. The Canucks are 5-4-1 heading into Tuesday night’s game against the Islanders.

Like the good old days in New York, Tortorella was clipped in his response to questions about any other team but his own. He did offer some nice words about his former team, however.

“I’m not getting involved in that,” he said. “I’ll tell you something: I loved working for the Rangers. I love everything about the area.”