Tortorella's return to Garden with Canucks closes the book on his tenure in New York
Steve ZipaySteve Zipay
Steve Zipay is an award-winning journalist who has covered events
Finally, we can close the book on the tumultuous John Tortorella tenure in New York, can't we?
There's no sequel planned after Saturday's 5-2 Rangers win at the Garden.
Sure, there's a rematch April 1 in Vancouver, and the way the Rangers and Canucks are playing, there's clearly a chance that a playoff berth or perhaps playoff positioning, will be on the line in the waning days of the regular season.
If you're a wild-eyed optimist, there's the longest of shots that there could be a meeting in the playoffs. But that only would be in the Stanley Cup Finals, and, well, it's the 2013-14 season, not the halcyon spring of 1994.
No, this visit by Tortorella to his old battleground should end the drama, or the comedy, however you perceive it, even if it doesn't for Rangers coach Alain Vigneault, who made an initial western trek back to Vancouver in September and said all the right things to the media, even after a 5-0 preseason loss.
Tortorella, who was fired by the Rangers seven days after Vigneault was let go by Vancouver on May 27, already has returned to the New York area, when the Canucks visited Nassau Coliseum and met the press.
"Quite honestly, we have beaten this thing up," he said Friday, adding that he has not watched Rangers games. "We are going there, it's another game on the schedule. It's a very important game for us to gain some traction. We are going to be there with the team, coach, and then we will get the hell out of there."
And there was more of that Saturday before the matinee at MSG, when Tortorella, standing in a corridor outside the visiting dressing room, conceded that no family or friends were at the rink and that it was weird to be back in the building:
"I don't think you ever totally sever," Tortorella said, "but when you're 30 games in with another team, I think you need to sever . . . and find a way to win. As coaches, we know we're going to different teams, that's the lay of the land . . . I'm not going to keep going back."
No, this is Vigneault's territory now, and his team, win or lose. He was at the podium, not in the hallway after Torts.
"We came up the [security] ramp together, nobody beat anybody," said Vigneault, who has downplayed the matchup all week. "John, I'm sure, loved his time in New York, as I loved my time in Vancouver. I think we're both trying to do the same thing."
Just doing it in different places, with Vigneault in the east and Tortorella in the west, and tenuously linked in the NHL chain, eventually judged by wins and losses.