Hershey faces off against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
“Get The F#$* Out Of Here”: The Top 5 Craziest John Tortorella Moments
If you’ve only become a Caps fan in the past three weeks or so (as many of the bandwagon fans at my college have), then you might have been shocked by the Rangers head coach’s press conference following Saturday’s loss in DC. For more seasoned NHL fans, however, John Tortorella has been a raving lunatic since day one. And Saturday’s presser was one of his tamer moments:
Anyway, let’s now look at his top five craziest moments.
5. Joe Thornton “hasn’t won a g–damn thing in this league”
Following an October 31, 2011 loss to the Rangers, in which the Sharks‘ hopes for a six-game sweep on the road were spoiled in New York, San Jose captain Joe Thornton expressed his frustrations to the media. He told CSNBayArea.com that the Sharks “should have beat” the Rangers because they were “probably the softest team” the Sharks faced on the trip.
Torts was understandably upset by the comments, but instead of behaving like any sane person would and pointing out that it would be ludicrous to say the Rangers were the softest team in a group that included the Islanders (who only had 36 fewer major penalties than the Rangers this season), Tortorella decided to respond like any Kardashian family member would: Through the media. Following a Rangers practice the following morning, Torts fired back:
“It surprised me, and I’ve never heard a player say that. Joe’s a heck of a player, but here’s a player popping off about our team, and Joe hasn’t won a god d— thing in this league. He could go down as a player, being one of the better players in our league never to win anything. So what he should do is just shut up. It was uncalled for, it was classless, and I’ve never had it happen like that before.”
Tortorellas’ comments turned out to be prophetic, at least for now: The Sharks bumbled their way to a 4-1 first round exit at the hands of the St. Louis Blues.
4. The Penguins are “one of the most arrogant organizations in the league”
Tortorella doesn’t just criticize individual players; he criticizes entire organizations. After Pittsburgh defenseman Brooks Orpik delivered a knee-on-knee hit to New York forward Brandon Dubinsky, Tortorella was enraged. The hit came with less than 5 minutes left in a 5-2 Pittsburgh win on April 5, and as if the hit wasn’t upsetting enough, the Penguins’ win essentially pulled the President’s Trophy rug out from underneath the Rangers’ feet. Tortorella ranted about the Penguins in his post-game press conference:
“It’s a cheap, dirty hit. I wonder what would happen if we did it to their two whining stars over there. I wonder what would happen. So I’m anxious to see what happens with the League over this. Just no respect among players. None. It’s sickening.”
“It’s one of the most arrogant organizations in the league. They whine about this stuff all the time, and look what happens.”
“It’s ridiculous. But they’ll whine about something else over there, won’t they, starting with their two (expletive) stars.”
Psychotic as he may seem, I must admit that, as a Caps fan, I wholeheartedly agree with Tortorella’s assessment of the Penguins’ character.
When Tortorella was the head coach of the Lightning, he verbally chastised goaltender John Grahame on multiple occasions. Following consecutive poor starts in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in 2006, Tortorella lambasted his poor netminder:
“It’s deflating to see sixteen shots and four of them in the net, let’s call a spade a spade. He’s trying like hell, (but) we need (an) occasional save. Four goals in sixteen shots. … I’m really tired of the 25-percent rule.”
As much as Tortorella seemed to dislike Grahame, nothing could compare to the hatred he harbored for noted pest and fashion plate, Sean Avery. Tortorella’s disdain for Avery predated the Rangers’ waiver claim in 2009, beginning Avery’s second stint with the team, but first under Tortorella’s tenure; when he was a TSN analyst in 2008, Tortorella had these kind words for Avery following the infamous “sloppy seconds” debacle:
“He’s embarrassed himself, he’s embarrassed the organization, he’s embarrassed the league and he’s embarrassed his teammates, who have to look out for him. Send him home. He doesn’t belong in the league.”
As his coach, Tortorella did everything he could to make Avery’s life miserable, repeatedly benching him and assigning him to the AHL, before the club finally released him this year.
2. The Water Bottle Incident
During the third period of a 4-0 game 5 loss to the Caps in the 2009 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Tortorella expressed his frustrations by attacking a Caps fan who seated behind the Rangers’ bench. After the fan allegedly poured beer on him, Tortorella first squirted water in the fan’s direction. He then proceeded to throw the bottle into the stands, striking an innocent bystander in the process, and to top it off, he grabbed a stick off the bench and waved it menacingly in the fan’s direction. Tortorella was suspended by the NHL for game 6, which the Caps won en route to taking the series in seven games (hint, hint, 2012 Washington Capitals).
1. John Tortorella and Larry Brooks: A Love Story
You would be hard pressed to find a professional sports head coach who enjoys a more adversarial relationship with a member of the press than the relationship between Tortorella and Larry Brooks. Brooks has been the Rangers beat writer for the New York Post since 1996, but the bad blood between the two stems from an incident following the Lightning’s 2007 round one, game five loss to the Devils, giving New Jersey a 3-2 series lead. After Brooks repeatedly asked Tortorella “What did you do?”, Tortorella went off on him, telling Brooks “Brooksie, if I wanted to explain it to you, I would,” and telling Brooks to “get the f— out of here.”
“It can’t work, not with the 30-year-old Lecavalier under contract through 2019-2020 at an annual cap hit of $7.727 million. It can’t work even if the arithmetic does, even if Tampa Bay’s cash-poor ownership would be willing to accept Wade “Golden Gloves” Redden as part of the package in return that most surely would have to include Michael Del Zotto or Marc Staal and Brandon Dubinsky or Ryan Callahan, and perhaps Derek Stepan.”
Tortorella was incensed, and laid into Brooks at the next available opportunity, which happened to follow a 2-0 loss to Philadelphia and a ridiculous fight between Flyers tough guy Dan Carcillo and Rangers fluffy blanket Marian Gaborik. During the post-game scrum, Torts turned to Brooks and flatly said, “I’m not going to answer any questions from you,” and invited the reporter to “be as sarcastic as you can be, as you usually are.” Tortorella then brought up the article, defending Redden’s fight and telling Brooks “you were probably beat up at the bus stop most of the time” and nicely asking him to “just go stand somewhere else.”
Then, of course, there was the incident from last season’s playoffs against the Capitals.
One thing we urge Brooks to do the next time he trades jabs with the coach: Bring up Tortorella’s mustache from his days as a Sabres assistant coach. You’ll thank me later.