COLUMBUS, Ohio - During his nine years with the Rangers organization, Brandon Dubinsky didn't hold back his opinions -- on politics, golf, fashion, the NHL.
And before Thursday night's first encounter against the Rangers, Dubinsky, who was sent to the Blue Jackets in the Rick Nash trade in July 2012, opened up again, saying that his relationship with John Tortorella "fell apart" in his last season, and wasn't surprised that the coach was fired because he "felt like his relationship with some of the other players could be doing the same thing."
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Rangers president and general manager Glen Sather has insisted that no players came to him complaining about Tortorella, but it was clear many players bristled in the final season of the regime.
Although Dubinsky said the trade, which included Artem Anisimov and Tim Erixon, and came after a run to the Eastern Conference finals "hurt a little bit . . . the hardest part for me was that we went from growing up together and taking a team that hadn't made the playoffs in forever to a team that was in the conference finals.
"I guess when you look at it, not only my trade, but all of the moves as a whole, I didn't understand it, quite, that you would want to bring that many new guys in after a successful season and a successful playoff run. But sometimes that's just the way New York is, they like the flash and the dash and they want a new toy, I guess. That's no disrespect to the organization, they were so great to me. When you get traded for a guy like Nash, you can't lose sight of that."
Marian Gaborik, whose relationship with Tortorella appeared to sour as well and was traded on April 3, 2013, and tweeted when Tortorella was axed that "things happen for a reason," said: "I don't want to get into it. It's in the past, everybody moved on, the team did, I did, he did."
Gaborik recalled a long, animated one-on-one with Tortorella during a practice in Ottawa about five days before he was traded. "We had a good talk . . . It was a shock for me when I got a call from Glen, I had some time to think about it, then I agreed."
Indeed, Gaborik, who is in the final year of his contract here, sounded a little wistful summing up his term with the Rangers as "two great years, two OK years . . . the run we had to the conference final was just awesome. It was fun to be part of that organization, to play at MSG, the fans, the city, too bad so many guys left. It was a big difference from the conference final team. But, no regrets."