Read: John Tortorella on Michael Del Zotto In The First Half of the Season and Now

At the end of the 2010-11 season, John Tortorella said of Michael Del Zotto, “There are a number of building blocks with Michael, and a number of defensemen that have pretty good rookie years ended up taking a step backwards. You accept that, and maybe change some things, and I don’t want to get into specifics, but something has to change, and you embrace the process, because it’s not an easy position to play. I’m really anxious to see Michael, first of all to get him healthy, and I’m really anxious to see him in camp again.”

In October, with Marc Staal injured, Tortorella praised Del Zotto for stepping up and taking on more responsibility.

In early November Tortorella said, “I think Michael has done the things, been much more aggressive defensively as far as stick on puck and time and space, I think he is feeling more and more confident with his play selection which is a very important part of the improvement we need out of him. I think he has handled himself very well.”

In December, after Brian Boyle called him a stud, Tortorella said “he has really applied himself in the things he needs to do to be a pro. He has been a very important part on our back end and he just keeps improving. As long as he handles himself off the ice the way he should, as far as staying within himself and still learning what it is to be a pro, he will keep growing. I’m happy for him.”

Recently, Tortorella told Stan Fischler at MSG.com that he was impressed with Del Zotto and expects him to continue to play at a high level.

“After a year in the minors Michael made a great comeback; no doubt about that and he’s become more consistent. He’s one of the best at joining the rush and I love his aggressiveness that way. But he still has to improve his ‘hardness’ and mental toughness. I want him to know that he has to do what he did last season every year. That’s when you become a player.”

Del Zotto said on 24/7 that Tortorella “is brutally honest but that he is the best kind of coach for him”