When John Tortorella was hired as the coach of the New York Rangers, he was a complete departure from the man he replaced, Tom Renney.
His fiery temper and his outspokenness is part of why he was brought in, and is what makes him a polarizing figure even among fans of the team he coaches. That temper got him in trouble in 2009 in his first playoff series as Rangers coach, when an altercation with Washington Capitals fans behind the bench led to a 1-game suspension.
His outspokenness cost him $30,000.00 for his postgame remarks after the Winter Classic, when he intimated that the rash of pro-Flyers calls (including the Daniel Briere penalty shot that Henrik Lundqvist stopped) in the closing minutes of the showcase game were a conspiracy between the NHL and NBC to send the game into overtime.
During Thursday night’s 5-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, Brooks Orpik laid a knee-on-knee hit on Derek Stepan in the third period. Orpik received a 5-minute major and a game misconduct. Stepan was able to skate off the ice without assistance. He did not practice on Friday and was reported to just be sore. If that’s the severity of it then the Rangers dodged a huge bullet a week away from the start of the playoffs.
Understandably Tortorella was livid about the dirty hit and let his feelings be known about it in his postgame interview that aired after the game on MSG Network:
“Absolutely, it’s a cheap, dirty hit,” Tortorella said when asked about it. “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 with this. Just no respect among players, none. It’s sickening.”
Tortorella wasn’t done sharing how he felt about the team that had run afoul of another Atlantic Division rival, the Philadelphia Flyers, five days earlier, as well as Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin:
“It’s one of the most arrogant organizations in the league. They whine about this stuff all the times and look what happens. It’s ridiculous, but they’ll whine about something else over there, won’t they? Starting with their two (f—ing) stars.”
You think it would have ended there, right? Both teams report to their respective practice facilities on Friday and then close out their regular seasons on Saturday without further incident, right? Wrong. Crosby felt the need to fire back today, and actually had the audacity to imply, in quotes that appeared in a story on nhl.com, that Ryan Callahan whines far more to the officials:
“I mean, if you want you can put a camera on us all game, put a camera on [Rangers captain Ryan Callahan] all game. You’ll see who’s over there more [with the officials]. He [Tortorella] should worry about his own players.”
Callahan? Really Sidney? If Crosby felt that Tortorella’s remarks were “garbage,” why even respond to them with more than a “I’m not even going to dignify the comments with a reaction”? Crosby could have taken the high road and come out looking like the better person in this. Rather he chose to spew his own “garbage.” and drag Callahan, the hard-nosed Rangers captain who doesn’t have a reputation for slew-footing and getting away with all sorts of elbows and post-whistle punches, through the mud.
Tortorella also found out Friday just what happened with the League decided to do with this. Orpik did not receive any supplemental discipline, not even a call from Brendan Shanahan admonishing him for the dirty play. Tortorella, on the other hand, found his wallet another $20,000.00 lighter for having the nerve to come out and say what so many people think when it comes to the Penguins, despite the fact that the NHL decided to make it an even bigger molehill by splashing it on NHL.com and even tweeting a link to the initial story with Tortorella’s comments. Even as of 10:15 pm Friday evening, this war of words was still very prominent on the home page.
Fining a coach for making remarks that call into question the integrity of the League, such as the comments Tortorella made after the Winter Classic or the ones Renney made in implying there was some favortism by the referees towards the Los Angeles Kings in the Edmonton Oilers’ 2-0 loss to them on Monday because, to paraphrase, “maybe the NHL needs Hollywood in the playoffs,” a remark that set Renney back $10,000.00, makes sense. But fining the Rangers’ coach for venting and speaking out against another team does nothing to quell the prevailing thought, true or not, that the NHL coddles the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Wonder if Peter Laviolette, Craig Berube and Mike Milbury will give Tortorella a hand when it comes to ponying up the cash.
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About the Author: Likes: Hockey, the New York Rangers, King Henrik, singing the Rangers goal song, "The Save", the sound skates make against ice, heckling Marty Brodeur. Dislikes: 3-point games, front-office mismanagement, Denis Potvin, overpriced arena beer. Interested? Follow me on Twitter: @CC_927