Glen Sather stepped down as head coach of the struggling New York Rangers on Wednesday, but will stay on as the team's president and general manager.
"There were several reasons why I decided to do it," Sather said. "One is we've got a couple weeks left before the trading deadline, and it'll give me an opportunity to concentrate on the other duties that are involved in this job. That's probably the main reason.
"The other thing is to get some kind of a reaction out of the team so they'll play a little harder and a little smarter in the remaining games."
Assistant Tom Renney will take over behind the bench on an interim basis while assistants Terry O'Reilly and Ted Green will stay in their current roles.
The Rangers continue to struggle despite boasting a handful of stars and the league's highest payroll. With 20 regular-season games remaining, the team appears set to miss the playoffs for the seventh straight season.
The Rangers are 22-29-7-4 â 14 points behind the eighth-place New York Islanders, who hold the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Rangers have just four victories in the their past 19 contests.
The 60-year-old Sather has felt the wrath of disgruntled New York fans in recent weeks, as chants of "fire Sather" have been commonplace at Madison Square Garden.
According to New York Post, Sather met with team owner James Dolan on Tuesday and decided to hand over his coaching responsibilities.
The Rangers are the third NHL team to make a coaching change within the last 24 hours.
Joel Quenneville of the St. Louis Blues and Bob Francis of the Phoenix Coyotes were both fired on Tuesday.
In hopes of rebuilding the beleaguered franchise, Sather said he would be looking into all possible trade scenarios prior to the NHL's March 7 deadline.
"There isn't anyone in the organization that has a no-trade in his contract, so I think when we get down to that stage we'll make some decisions," he said.
"We're going to spend the next couple weeks evaluating where we're going to go and how we're going to get to where we decide to go. When the deadline comes around, you'll probably have an idea."
Sather took over as the Rangers' coach with 28 games remaining in the 2002-03 season when rookie coach Bryan Trottier was fired by the club. Sather posted a 33-39-11-7 record in 90 games behind the Rangers' bench since taking over for Trottier.
Renney, who coached the Vancouver Canucks from June 1996 to November 1997, becomes the 32nd coach in Rangers history. He joined the Rangers in July 2000 as director of player personnel and was named an assistant coach last summer.
Renney is also a long-time coach with Canada's national teams.
with files from Canadian Press