John Tortorella Coach Of The Year? No, No, No. Leave That Media Devil In The Room


Like him or not, John Tortorella has made a name for himself in the NHL.  Nominated this season as one of the finalists for the Jack Adams Award for Coach of The Year, “Torts” continues to generate controversey in whatever he does.  “Torts” has been under the microscope lately for more than just his moves behind the bench.  With Wednesday nights loss to the New Jersey Devils he’s been scrutinized by the media and fans of the NHL for two things.  His benching of Marian Gaborik, and for another one of his abbreviated press conferences.

Gaborik’s ice time was cut short after failing to drop down and block a shot that was tipped in past goaltender Henrik Lundqvist which tied the game at two a piece with less than two mintues remaining in the second period.  Gaborik was then firmly planted on the bench for a major portion of the third period, and was not on the ice when the Rangers pulled Lundqvist for an extra attacker in the closing minutes of regulation.  At a time when the Rangers needed scoring, this manuever wasn’t exactly going to generate much offence, but as we know, Tortorella is his own man and does what he does whether you agree or not.   Do you want your most dangerous goal scorer blocking shots?  Or do you expect the same aggressive play from all your players no matter who they are?

While his coaching style will always be overanalyzed, his post game press conferences have become one of the most anticipated moments following a game.  This has been going on for quite some time now especially and incidents like this one with Larry Brooks here are more the norm.  Torts’s has become sort of a “media devil” with his short answers, his sharp tongue, and his apparent disrespect for the people who are paid to bring us the news.  It’s one thing to not want to talk, but at a time like this, when you’re team is in the p;layoffs and comes off a flat performance, you want answers.  Or do you?  Do you care what your coach says after a loss?  They already stunk and you know it, the coach knows it, and the players know.  Rehashing it in a press conference isn’t going to help you understand it. Wendesday night’s press conference lasted about 30 seconds.  It was brief, and right  to the point, but nothing was answered.  There was some commonality to it however.  He said the word “no” three times, and said “I’ll keep in the room” twice.  Once at the beginning, and once at the end.  The New York Post printed the blow by blow.

I’ll remind the Florida Panther fans that back in the early part of last decade when Mike Keenan was coach, the press conferences used to be shown on the jumbotron screen.  With me being a huge Keenan fan, I would always stay to hear what he had to say about the game, which at that time was usually following a loss.  I will always remember the time where he said “This team doesn’t have the mental capacity to play playoff style hockey when they need to”, after a game against the Carolina Hurricanes.   Or when he said “some of these players can’t handle the distrations of South Florida”.  Boom!  I like that kind of chatter.  It may not have the same effect now as you read it, but right after a game zingers like that are golden.

While the two sitatuations are extremely different, Keenan was at least formulating an opinion.  Although sometimes when I hear Tortorella speak I kinda chuckle, he too is allowing the media to form an opinion.  With all the history of his pressers, there are times I look forward to what his responses will be.  Usually the first question is the one that sets him off, so that presents another issue completely.

Nothing is worse than asking a coach or player the wrong question following a tough game, or even a loss.  One must be careful not to pinch the nerve of a coach or player when they may be very sensitive about the game that has just ended. However, what Tortorella is doing is working, and I think the media is on to his scheme.  At this juncture he’s deflecting, he’s avoiding, and he’s distracting.  All the attention is on him and not on his team.  So when a question like ” Can you just talk about the decision to sit Gaborik down”? comes his way and he responds with a tart “no”. What are you supposed to do?  Additionally, you can surmise that he’s not happy with Gaborik, but he’s also not going to get into it.  On the one hand this supports the theory that you don’t air your dirty laundry in the media, but on the other, someone needs to write a story and wants insight.

Maybe the media needs a different approach.  Since most of his answers seem to be of the one word, or short response type, taking a different angle might be a better approach.  It could be that Tortorella would have a more open mind if he was asked less invasive questions.

Therefore, I thought I’d make a list of  10 questions to ask that might generate a more detailed response:

* Beatles or Rolling Stones?

* Are you gonna see Men In Black?

* If you were Rose in the Titanic would you have let Jack go?

* Avengers or Avatar?

* Jennifer Garner of Jennifer Aniston?

* Do you have a sensible solution to the financial issues in Greece?

* What is shaved ice?  Did it have hair on it before it was shaved?

* How long is the long arm of the law?

* Why do hot dogs come ten to a package and hot dog buns only eight?

* What if the hokey pokey is what it’s all about?

As much as I dislike the New York Rangers, the longer they stay alive in the post season the more “Devil” we get to see.

Thanks for reading.  We welcome your comments and opinions.

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