At TampaBay.com, Tom Jones wrote a retrospective on the time that John Tortorella spent coaching the Lightning.
In addition to his rough public persona, Jones writes that the real Tortorella was seen behind closed doors.
“Yet, he had a soft side, too. Believe it or not, he could be a players’ coach, giving them more days off than most NHL coaches and once taking them for a four-day, in-season vacation to Atlantic City. He often sought their advice on how to best handle a certain situation or dilemma. He praised more than he criticized. You might not think it, but most players loved playing for him. (Well, the non-goalies, that is.) And his charity work, helping children who had cancer, was a passion and went unnoticed, mostly because he never wanted it publicized.”
Tortorella spoke to the team for over two hours and NYU coach Chris Cosenito said that the team has been trying to follow the Tortorella model, “Over the past few years we have been trying to instill Coach Tortorella’s philosophy on hard work and accountability into our student/athletes, and to have him speak was something we will never forget.”
He added “He is not just about X’s and O’s. He is about teaching values and developing people. It was truly an honor to have him meet our student/athletes and make such a positive impact on our program.”
At The Bio File, Scoop Malinowski went in search of how John Tortorella is remembered in Tampa Bay.
He spoke with Scott Audette, who is the team photographer for Tampa, who said that “I love the guy” and said that the charity he work did in Tampa was “amazing.”
To see the real Torts is to see him when he’s with the kids. Then you see him let his guard down. That’s his soft spot – the kids.
Tom Gilbert said of Torts “I know him on and off the ice. What he did off the ice for this community is fantastic. He had the John Tortorella Fishing Tournament, he would take underpriviliged kids fishing. He loved kids, he loved the community.”
Mike Didtler said“What I remember about Torts is not so much his success on the ice but how much he did in the community. He was a very civic-minded person though he didn’t blow his own horn about it. “
THIS SECTION is dedicated to the “other side” of John Tortorella.
In a 2009 article in the Tampa Tribune, Joe Henderson tells a story of how John Tortorella had an impact on a family going through a tough time in Tampa Bay.
Henderson writes of the Reeves family in Tampa Bay and how14 year old Jacob had bone cancer.
Mrs. Reeves says that one day Tortorella called up the family and brought over the Stanley Cup.
Mrs. Reeves says of Torts, “When I see John, I see compassion. I see a heart that John has away from hockey. He says he has to be one way with his players to get the most of out of them, but he’s different with his friends.”
The following pictures were sent by MSG and taken by Adam Pantozzi
Tony Castillo is the security chief of the Tampa Bay Lightning and someone that John Tortorella visited everyday in the hospital during the summer of 2010 as he recovered from a massive heart attack.
According to Damian Cristodero of the Tampa Bay Times, Tortorella was a big reason that Castillo recovered from the heart attack that was thought to cause brain damage.
Castillo said he remembers Tortorella ordering him to squeeze his hand “like a man. … He’d jump on the bed saying, ‘I’m going to kick your (rear end) if you don’t get well.’ He told me to fight. It meant the world to me.”
During Castillo’s six week recovery Tortorella sometimes visited twice a day.
Tortorella called Castillo “family” and said that even during the season, the two of them still talk multiple times per week.
On September 9th, John Tortorella will be holding a dog walk, along with Ryan Callahan, Henrik Lundqvist, Rick Nash and Brad Richards, to help end animal abuse.
In 2007, the St. Pete Times wrote that Tortorella was one of the figures in sports who is actually doing some good.
The Lightning coach and his wife, Christine, remind people that it is easy for some to just write checks, but they implore to do more than that. The Tortorellas ask others to get involved personally, in a more “hands-on” manner. He practices what he preaches, not only raising money for The Children’s Home and the Child Abuse Council with his fishing tournament, but also working with Christine, their children and The Lightning Foundation, taking the children on dolphin-watching tours, to local beaches and hosting them in the St. Pete Times Forum for street hockey games. Tortorella was awarded the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Tampa Bay 2005 Award of Excellence in recognition of his service as an outstanding community role model and for his charitable work with bay area children’s causes. John and Christine were also honored by The Children’s Home with the 2007 Helen Ayala Davis Award for outstanding community service.
Jay Feaster told Bruce Arthur of the National Post that Tortorella is a guy who “melts around children” and “that he constantly engages in charity work that he has no interest in sharing with the public, or the media, unless forced to do so.”
Feaster said of Tortorella’s interactions with Liam on 24/7 “I said to him it has to kill you to know there are people out there who actually know you’re a nice guy. He laughed. But watch it – his face lit up.”
New York, August 15, 2012 –The New York Rangers announced today that tickets to John Tortorella’s first NYC Dog Walk are now available. The fundraising event, which will benefit the Westchester Shores Humane Society and other organizations dedicated to the humane treatment of animals, will take place on Sunday, September 9 at Riverside Park and will feature members of the New York Rangers team, coaching staff and select alumni for a one mile walk with fans and their dogs. The walk will culminate with an interactive session, featuring a Q & A with the Rangers Coach, dog adoptions, along with many other contests, games. To purchase tickets visit, http://newyorkrangers.com/rangersdogwalk .
All net proceeds from the event will be donated to the Westchester Humane Society and other organizations for the humane treatment of animals. The Westchester Humane Society is dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and adoption of companion animals. WHS is committed to providing a safe environment for homeless pets and finding permanent homes. To achieve its mission, WHS assists families in choosing the right pet through education and screening, promotes spay/neuter to reduce pet overpopulation, and maintains a network of volunteers working in alliance with shelters, rescues, and humane societies. WHS supports the battle to end animal cruelty and embraces the No Kill philosophy seeking to end the euthanasia of healthy and treatable companion animals.