Tonight, the Rangers and Capitals meet in a rematch of a 2009 opening round series that saw the Capitals come back from a 3-1 deficit to advance to the conference semi-finals. In that series, there was an incident that will forever be remembered for Caps fans in attendance: Rangers’ coach John Tortorella going after Caps fans sitting behind the visitor’s bench in game 5.
After being agrevated by the fans during a TV timeout, Tortorella lost his cool (shocking, I know) and turned around, yelling back at them. The words escalated as the fan reportedly threw beer onto Tortorella, who eventually squirted water on the fan before throwing the water bottle at him. Tortorella then threatened to climb over the glass and was waving Aaron Voros’ stick at the fan.
Just another Friday for the NHL’s most colorful coach, but after HBO 24/7, Bruce Boudreau is climbing on that list as well. These are two coaches with different tactics, different reputations, and different styles. But they do have one thing in common: their mouths.
Tortorella is notorious for his bouts with the media, particularly with Larry Brooks. He is cryptic, short, and has zero patience for what he perceives to be dumb questions. He makes his opinions very well known and is a PR person’s worst nightmare.
Boudreau, on the other hand, has a different persona. Whereas Tortorella is known for benching players he is upset with at the slightest indiscretion, Boudreau is known as more of a player’s coach. He talks to his troops and tries to work with them. Some may even accuse him of hand-holding and not holding his players to a high enough standards.
While one is considered to be brash and rough around the edges, the other is thought of more like a Teddy bear, someone to joke around and go have a beer with. Despite these drastic differences, they both like running their mouths.
Tortorella is the King of media controversy, but Boudreau stirred the pot a bit a while back when he implied that the Tampa Bay Lightning dive often, citing specifically Steve Downie and Steven Stamkos. His curse-laden speeches during 24/7 have become pop culture references in the hockey world. His bark may be a bit softer than Tortorella’s, but he has a bark nontheless.
Oh, what an interesting series this will be for the coaches. Neither tells the press anything, then add a playoff atmosphere and the Caps feeling a little revenge is needed for their two blowouts? Throw in the Rangers needing to prove that they actually belong in the post season, not just because someone else lost? Leaving all that aside, there is still the NY/DC undercurrent, where each city feels it is really the center of the nation.
If nothing else, this series will be entertaining on the public relations side. These two men will make sure of it.