In the Vancouver Province, Jason Botchford spoke with John Tortorella as he is preparing for the regular season at his summer home in Wisconsin.
Tortorella spoke in the interview about not changing his interactions with players and his belief that honesty will lead to players growing and becoming better.
He added that he felt hurt hearing that some of the Rangers had issues with him that weren’t confronted or addressed in a one on one matter. Tortorella said that he thought he was close with his players in New York and that no one said anything to him during their exit interviews at the end of last season.
“I wish they would have said something to me. Glen probably still would have fired me, but you hope you develop people to be men, and I thought we were there. I guess it went through a third party instead of face-to-face. I know it happens in the game, I don’t agree with it. With the way I coach, every time there are exit interviews at the end of the year, I always find out it comes up that I’m too hard. It’s the world I live in. I get it. I live with that.”
Tortorella said that he will continue to demand a lot from his players because he feels that is the best way for them to reach levels they didn’t think they could play at.
Arron Asham said that a lot of players were starting to get “fed up” with Tortorella, his intensity and his screaming in the locker room.
7AM: In a chat with the Portage Dailygraphic, Aaron Asham said that while he enjoyed playing for John Tortorella, some players had grown tired of Tortorella and his style of coaching.
Asham said that the dressing room was “intense” and players were “uptight” and that now with Alain Vigneault coming in “we can start laughing and having some fun.”
On Tortorella, Asham said that he is very intense and while he “does a decent job” of getting the most out of his players, the guys who have been there for a long time were getting “fed up” with all the screaming and intensity.
In the Daily News, Pat Leonard spoke with Rangers President and GM Glen Sather who said that “the game has changed” and that is a big reason why he fired John Tortorella.
Sather said that dump and chase hockey needs to evolve and that when you watch the Bruins and Blackhawks, “there’s not a hell of a lot of dump-ins.” He says that there is a lot of puck control, hanging onto pucks and moving without the puck to create chances.
He said, “There’s a lot of things that are done differently than what we were doing. So you have to look at the style of play. That had a lot to do with it.”
Sather said it’s his job to know when things aren’t going right and that he doesn’t need players or the people that work for him to point it out.
Adam Rotter: The Rangers issues with scoring are not new and this has definitely been a topic of conversation between Sather and Tortorella before. I don’t doubt that Tortorella wanted to open things up, but when he saw what he had in this shortened season he coached the way that he felt would give his team the best chance to win. They made the playoffs, won a round and were beaten by a much better team that may end up winning the Stanley Cup.
I felt that John Tortorella would have this coming season to try and present a more open style of hockey and try out an evolved system in training camp. Maybe that idea was presented to Sather, maybe it has been in the past and Sather knew that if things started slow and the Rangers were struggling on defense Tortorella would revert back to his old ways. We don’t know. All we know is that John Tortorella is out and Alain Vigneault’s idea of offense fits with what Glen Sather thinks.
Michael: Now that the Bruins swept the Penguins, do you think that the Rangers fired John Tortorella too quickly? Pittsburgh was much better than the Rangers and didn’t even win one game.
Adam Rotter: By almost all accounts, the Rangers were not planning to fire John Tortorella following their second round loss to the Bruins. Tortorella had even signed an extension earlier in the year which would seem to indicate that management thought he would at least get to start next season.
Tortorella was fired because the players felt that his style and his personality was standing in the way of progress. The Rangers played hard against the Bruins but were beaten by a better team. Tortorella called it a sideways step of a season and the players called it a backwards step. Management listened to the players and they will have a new coach next season.
In The Hockey News, Adam Proteau writes that after his performance in the playoffs, John Tortorella is no longer qualified to be a modern day NHL coach.
He writes that Tortorella is too focused on his systems and his stubborn personality to shift more towards the idea of being a manager, like in baseball, which is how some see the coaching position in the NHL going.
He compares Tortorella to Mike Keenan and says that the grumpy coach approach is best left in the past and not with current NHL coaches.
A former player under Tortorella told Proteau that Torts is very knowledgeable but not someone who manages his personnel well
Michael Peca told the NY Post, “coaching in today’s game is as much dealing with the personalities as it is dealing with the system.”
Claude Julien said at ESPN Boston that he has no doubt John Tortorella will return to the NHL as a coach, saying that “good coaches are hard to find.”
The NY Times writes that the next team that hires Tortorella will have to be one that doesn’t care what people think of it or wants to change their image to be the one that Tortorella projects.
Adam Rotter: It’s hard to see how John Tortorella could go from finishing second in the coach of the year voting to not being worthy of being an NHL coach.
In 2011-12 the Rangers, especially Henrik Lundqvist, loved how Tortorella coached this team and how he challenged the players. Something changed this season, maybe it was all too much during a lockout shortened year, but Tortorella set a foundation for this team that most teams would love to have.
6/1/13 4:38PM: Strang once again writes that Tortorella signed a new contract during the season, believed to be for three years.
5/29/13: 7:05PM: According to Katie Strang of ESPN NY, John Tortorella WAS NOT heading into the last year of his contract this year and had signed an extension during the season.
Tortorella had signed a three-year extension following the 2010-11 season.
After being fired by Tampa Bay following the 2008 season, John Tortorella joined TSN’s hockey coverage for the 2008-09 season until he was hired by the Rangers.
Thursday morning on TSN Radio, TSN host James Duthie said that as soon as Tortorella was fired, he started to gets hundreds of questions from people asking when Tortorella would be back on TSN.
Duthie though doesn’t expect it to happen because, “he hated being on TV.” Duthie says that Tortorella would tell the other panelists that he loved hanging out with them, he loved watching the games and eating pizza with them, but that he hated the TV part of it.
He also said that Tortorella really only had two big moments on TV, when he went after Sean Avery and when he said that “The Quiz” sucked. Besides that Tortorella didn’t say much of anything, “he didn’t want to answer any of the questions and he didn’t want to comment. In fact, I think he only went on TV to prove to people that he wasn’t this ranting lunatic he was in the news conferences because he was a choir boy in there. As much as I like the guy, he brought this on himself.”
Duthie also added that during the playoffs, Tortorella was a completely different person, “charming and personable,” when doing pre-game interviews with TSN’s Sara Orlesky. “If you saw any of our interviews with Sara Orlesky you wouldn’t believe it was the same person.”
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On Sportsnet, former NHL goalie John Garrett was asked about John Tortorella being fired by the Rangers.
Garret was 68-91-37 in 207 career games and said of Tortorella, “here is another guy who didn’t play in the NHL, now I know Doug [to Doug MacLean], you didn’t play in the NHL but your major asset and attribute is people skills and you played in the minors and learned it. John Tortorella, talk about not a players coach…NO IDEA. Dan Bylsma and Peter Laviolette, guys who have played in the NHL and know what it is like and then you get John Tortorella…it just drives me nuts.
Michael Grange writes at Sportsnet “But the bully act Tortorella presented in public always meant a little more to me, for some reason. Here was a coach who was by any measure a marginal professional hockey player who required his players to throw themselves in front of pucks at a rate never before seen in the NHL. He struck me as the worst kind of general — the kind that encourages his troops to make great physical sacrifices without having any of his own battle scars to show them.”
Grange said that since Tortorella didn’t have the past as a tough guy, he would take out his anger and show his toughness when dealing with the media.
Even with the charity work and way he is off the ice, Grange said that Tortorella liked being a bully and that he is a phony.
Tortorella played three seasons (65 games) for the University of Maine and then played four seasons (200 games) in the Atlantic Coast Hockey League before turning to coaching.
Current NHL head coaches who didn’t play in the NHL are Claude Noel, Jon Cooper, Ken Hitchcock, Pete DeBoer, Barry Trotz, Michel Therrien, Mike Yeo, Ralph Krueger, Mike Babcock, Bob Hartley, Ron Rolston,
Flyers coach Peter Laviolette played 12 career games in the NHL. Sharks coach Todd Mclellan played five. Islanders coach Jack Capuano played five. Todd Richards played eight. Claude Julien 14.
Alain Vigneault played 42 games in the NHL.
10:22AM: Darren Dreger said on TSN Radio yesterday that one person inside the Rangers organization said that Tortorella lost the team in February and that they knew he wasn’t going to be back.
Dreger also said that he understood the situation to be that Tortorella was safe.
10AM: According to Larry Brooks in the NY Post, Glen Sather had no intention of firing John Tortorella after the Rangers season ended.
That changed when “a critical mass” of players told Glen Sather that they felt Tortorella’s overbearing personality and coaching style was standing in the way of progress.
Brooks says that Henrik Lundqvist’s comments on Monday were the tipping point and that he was bothered by how the dynamic between Tortorella and the players was starting to fade.
Some other things that Brooks notes:
In the NY Daily News, Pat Leonard writes that “multiple players” including some “top guys” went to Sather to complain about Tortorella and ask for him to be removed.
Adam Rotter: If the players felt like they were being stifled and that they have gone as far as John Tortorella can take them, than this is the right move to make. I would imagine that the guys who had the ear of Glen Sather were the core players, the ones that the Rangers want to keep and continue to build with. If a Henrik Lundqvist, Ryan Callahan or Dan Girardi, all players whose contracts are up next year, even hint at the idea of moving on if John Tortorella is the coach, then you have to make a change. I don’t think this was a case of Tortorella losing the locker room as much as the players looking at each other after the season and wondering why they weren’t still playing. It seems like Glen Sather took in what his players said and decided that it made sense to start fresh with a new coach at training camp then to have to make a coaching change in November when the season will already be underway and the pool of potential hires won’t be as deep.
On TSN Radio yesterday, Bob McKenzie said that there are two reasons why John Tortorella is no longer the coach of the Rangers:
- “Glen Sather did not like the style that John Tortorella’s team was playing. The style this year was different than it was last year. Last year it was more of a puck possession team that spent more time in the other team’s zone wearing them down. For some reason, personnel, approach or vice versa, they spent more time in their own end collapsing and playing without the puck”
- Glen Sather did not like the approach of the team and the major players let it be known either publicly or privately, “we are all Tort’sd out. We have given all we can. We aren’t having fun and a change needs to be made.”
McKenzie also notes that Tortorella’s stubborn style may have finally worn out it’s welcome and that “I’m sure if you talk to Mark Messier in the Rangers organization, you aren’t going to get a favorable response” if asked about Tortorella.
It was mentioned in 2010 that there was a rift between Tortorella and Messier.
Messier worked with Tortorella and the coaching staff on faceoffs during the 2010-11 season