New York Rangers coach John Tortorella has been notoriously curt during his pre and postgame press conferences during these playoffs. He used 84 words in total talking to the media before and after Game 2 of the Eastern Conference final and has the attention due to him being rude and miserable. But he isn’t acting that way for no reason, there is a tactical reason behind his behavior.
His actions cause reporters to focus a part of their attention on him rather than the loss and struggles of the team itself.
Here’s a compilation of some of Tortorella’s finest postgame moments this postseason, put together by TSN:
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Of course, Tortorella isn’t the first to divert media attention to himself at this stage in the season.
Think back to the 2010 Stanley Cup final between the Chicago Blackhawks and Philadelphia Flyers when defenseman Chris Pronger did something similar. After losses in Games 1 and 2 in Chicago, Pronger picked up the puck when time ran out, causing a media firestorm that focused on the individual more than the game.
The thing about the media, not just in sports, but across all settings, is that they love sensationalism and making a bigger deal out of stories than they really are. How else can you explain why a syndicate as useless as TMZ exists? Writers are forcing readers to believe something that has no impact on their lives is somehow important. The sad thing though is that it works, as was discussed by Jim Neveau on Wednesday.
So while all the attention was on Pronger back then and all the attention is on Tortorella right now, reporters are missing out on the real story; their teams are losing. While Torts spends the time to talk to reporters after a win, his 30-40 second interview after losses leave nothing for writers to report on, so they focus on Tortorella. Of course you would like to see him answer the questions and show respect to the reporters, after all they have a job to do just as he does, but there is no rule in place he has to be courteous in doing so.
So what is the real story? The Rangers, who had a win percentage of .621 in the regular season have slipped and have a .563 winning percentage in the playoffs. Slipping is a relative term here because they have won two series, as many as they won in total since the lockout before this year, but they struggled to do so against the bottom two seeds in the Eastern Conference.
They only won the Capitals series because of a double minor to Joel Ward late in Game 5. They scored on both ensuing power plays to put them up 3-2, but likely would have lost that game if Ward kept his stick down and then the series in Game 6. Meanwhile their defense is starting to feel the effects of high minutes and the large amount of blocked shots. They have started to make mistakes leading directly to goals for the Devils and they were slow to get up at times in Game 2.
Only once in the regular season did the Rangers have a streak this bad, when they went 5-7 between March 2-23. Tortorella knows this and is keeping the spotlight on himself rather than his players. NHL Live, NBC’s postgame show, has spent a lot of time talking about Tortorella when they could be covering the Rangers’ struggles in better detail.
So continue to focus on Tortorella if you want, just understand that nobody watches hockey for the press conferences.