The Rangers showed signs of getting back into the playoff race, winning five of six games heading into last weekend. But the lowly Atlanta Thrashers beat New York twice in 4 days sandwiched around the Rangers' 7-2 loss at Washington on Sunday.
"After the last three games I made the decision that the team was sliding in the wrong direction," general manager Glen Sather said. "If I was going to do anything to try to salvage this season, I had to do something in a hurry. Put some shock value into the team and get the reality of the discipline that we need to have to win."
The Rangers planned to announce a new coach today, before their home game against Colorado. Rangers assistants Jim Schoenfeld and Terry O'Reilly were considered likely candidates. Sather didn't eliminate himself as a possible replacement.
Trottier was given the news after concluding his final practice with the team. "I think he looked a little relieved," Sather said. "It was a shock, but he looked like the weight of the world was off his shoulders.
"He said he didn't think he was the right guy for this group of players and felt like it was the right thing to do."
The Rangers are 21-26-6-1 and are in 11th place in the Eastern Conference, four points behind the Islanders, who currently hold the eighth and final playoff spot.
Sather said Trottier, who signed a 3-year contract, could remain in the organization.
* Buffalo forward Chris Gratton will miss the next two games because of a mild concussion after being hit in the head with the puck after a faceoff on Saturday.
* The Los Angeles Kings placed goaltender Felix Potvin on injured reserve due to a sprained right knee.
* Defenseman Joe Reekie retired after 17 seasons with five teams. Reekie, 37, finishes with 25 goals, 139 assists and 1,326 penalty minutes. He last played with Washington and Chicago last season.
In games last night:
* At Raleigh, N.C., Mats Sundin had two power-play goals as the Toronto Maple Leafs snapped a three-game losing streak with a 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. Sundin has 22 goals.
* At Dallas, Marty Turco made 28 saves to stretch his unbeaten streak to 12 games, and Jere Lehtinen scored two goals as the Stars beat the Calgary Flames, 4-1.
* At Edmonton, Jason Chimera had two goals and an assist, and Tommy Salo made 28 saves as the Oilers beat the Minnesota Wild, 5-1.
* At Anaheim, Steve Rucchin, Paul Kariya and Adam Oates scored goals as the Mighty Ducks beat Ottawa, 3-2. *