There is no questioning the fire of New York Rangers coach John Tortorella. It is that fire that makes him entertaining in a number of his press conferences both in confrontation with reporters like Larry Brooks and many appreciate the blunt nature to which he will discuss a number of topics. However, last night following the 2-0 loss to the Edmonton Oilers, Tortorella came out to fulfill his contractual obligation to meet with the media by stating off the bat that there will be no questions and calling out his team.
"This is going to be quick. I'm not taking any questions. We sucked from head to toe. And we need to move by it. So I'm not going to dissect it with you guys. I know you guys have to do your job, but I'm not answering any questions. Okay?"
The blunt assessment of the team’s performance is something that all fans appreciate because there was no attempt to insult their intelligence by trying to make the effort seem like it fell just short. Few will take umbrage with the assessment because of the honest nature of it and the obvious disgust in his tone/body language as he delivered.
The part that leads to some divide is the immediate dismissal of any questions which had split reactions across the fan base. While the press conference that should have followed would have done nothing to change the results of the game that just completed and little to impact Monday’s game against Winnipeg, part of Tortorella’s job is to stand there and take questions from the media. That is part of being a professional, which is exactly what Tortorella expects his player’s to be each time they step on the ice or have to answer for what went on there.
Tortorella loves to preach about accountability and taking responsibility for actions, but he dismisses the media’s ability to stand there and ask him questions about the product he helped facilitate putting on the ice. Where is the accountability in that? Why is he above standing there and being asked why Mike Rupp gets benched for taking an offensive zone penalty while Marian Gaborik doesn’t? Is it inexcusable to him that he be asked why Gaborik and Richards were separated during the game? Or any other question the media would have asked him for that matter?
He may view the media as a nuisance that he has to put up with as part of coaching the New York Rangers, and he might even be right, but that doesn’t make him shunning that part of the job description okay. Following the loss to the Islanders I praised Tortorella for taking accountability for his coaching decision in regards to Brad Richards being left out at the end of the power play and leading to the Islanders winning goal. There is no reason that his actions following the game last night should have been any different.
As I said, answering the questions, whatever they might have been, changes nothing about tonight’s game nor does it truly prepare for Winnipeg on Monday, but you can be both professional and accountable to answer the questions anyway. Take the responsibility for where you screwed up and then move on to get better.