Say what you want about John Tortorella, he is brutally honest.
And today, he proved it once again.
Speaking to 620 WDAF in Tampa, where Tortorella will be coaching a high school players on Sunday for Hockey Day in Tampa Bay, the former Ranger coach gave a very forthcoming assessment of his performance last season in Vancouver.
“Quite honestly, I deserved to be fired after that second half of the year,” Tortorella said.
After five up and down years – especially with the media – in New York, Tortorella was a disaster with the Canucks – getting fired after one season – which was highlighted…err, lowlighted by an incident when Tortorella went across to confront the Flames Bob Hartley after a line brawl in a game.
“I think you mature along the way,” Tortorella said. “Again, listen, I know I make my own bed in some of these different things that happened. You’re talking to a guy who went down a hallway after another coach last year, which was so across the line and so embarrassing to my organization and my team.”
“But it’s the emotion. You live and die by the sword a little bit there. I think I’ve controlled myself more. I really worked at that last year in Vancouver. That was really one of the bad spots of my season when I did that.”
Although, he is now sitting at home and joked about putting a strain on his marriage, the 56 year-old is hoping to get that shot behind the bench one more time and is watching games closely on his television.
He did bring up the subject of analytics, but thinks an NHL coach still needs to use his gut when it comes to coaching.
“When I was with my staff last year and all of this [analytics stuff] kind of bombarded us a little bit,” he said, “we had a really good analytic package. We had a guy, Jonathan Wall, out in Vancouver, and we had some really good stuff analytic-wise.”
“But this is not baseball. And I think this is where [the analytics movement] kinda grew from, and you have to be really careful not to let it control you in analyzing players and analyzing your team. I think it helps you in a lot of different areas to maybe affirm some things or maybe have you look at some other areas that you may improve, but if you lose your stomach when you’re coaching in the National Hockey League or the game of hockey, I just don’t know if that’s the proper way of going about it.”
He’s going to need to use it is he’s going to be behind the bench again and if this first appearance is his way of getting back in the game, so be it. Tortorella misses his former life.
““That’s what I miss most, is being in the room and seeing what [the player’s] personalities are, them coming back at me if they don’t like what they heard from me. That’s how you develop the relationships. I have some strong ones out there in Vancouver, and along with the other teams too. I think there’s a little bit of misperception, but nothing I can do about that.
“But I tell ya, I miss that part of it terribly, is being in the locker room with teams.”