John Tortorella: media savvy!

Jon Gabrielle,  NY Rangers correspondent

My mom taught me that hate is a very strong word.

Suffice it to say then, as the NY Rangers continue to struggle on the scoreboard, that their head coach, John Tortorella, “dislikes” the media very much. Well, at least at this point in the season, or, at least until he gets fired again and needs a job. (Remember, Tortorella worked as an analyst for TSN after he was dismissed by Tampa).

Following his clubs 4th whitewash in 7 games, this one coming at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens, 6-0, the surly coach wasn’t exactly loquacious.

A press conference removed from his now very public verbal joust with NY Post beat writer, Larry Brooks, the coach was tight-lipped and sour with the media once again.

Larry Brooks' Xmas gift to Torts. (photo by mil8/flickr)

Tortorella fielded queries by the throng of New York media  with a few curt responses. Response du jour was a simple “yes” to most questions.  Of course, that was accompanied by a steely glare, one that used to intimidate a 19 year old Vinny Lecavalier as well as all two of the Tampa media.

When asked by MSG’s Sam Rosen, “John, how much are these shutouts eroding the teams’ confidence,” Tortorella answered like any savvy bench boss would. “I don’t know Sam, I haven’t talked to the team.” Hopefully he finds some time to have a chat with them before the defending Stanley Cup champion, Pittsburgh Penguins, take the ice tonight at the Garden.

If the coach didn’t feel the need to put his analyst cap on, he did make it a point to tell one reporter to, “get that…would you please…” as he gestured the microphone away from his face.

At least three times, the coach told reporters, “I’m not going to dissect the game tonight…here…with you guys.”

If things aren’t exactly heating up with the Rangers offense these past 50 games or so…the tension is almost boiling between Tortorella and reporters. New York Ranger post game press conferences’ have become must-see television.

Tortorella may find it difficult trying to help his team generate offense, but the emotional coach may find it impossible to deal with the slippery slope that can be the New York media.

Someone might want to whisper in his ear, “John this isn’t Kansas, and these guys(NY media) aren’t Dorothy.” Or, perhaps simply stated, this isn’t the Tampa media…all two of them… where the toughest question in a month might be, “who’s going to play with Vinny tonight?”

No, coaches crave control, and it’s apparent that in Tampa, Tortorella was bigger than the media. Questions were carefully guarded there. But this is New York. No coach is bigger than the media, and no coach tells the media what they can or cannot ask.  A place known to chew up coaches, spit them out, and salivate while waiting for the next “control freak” to come to town, this bunch is more akin to a paparazzi swarm. Except one big difference. They have the credentials and the authority to stick their microphones in the coaches face.  Unfortunately for him, there is no limousine waiting to whisk the embattled coach away after the game.

Toronto’s Bill Watters of 620 radio, “Home of the Leafs,” chimed in a few days ago. “Tortorella is starting a fight with the media in New York that he cannot win.”

Problem is…win or lose, the New York media love a good scrap!


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