John Tortorella spoke at length regarding his player relationships and his time as a head coach for the New York Rangers recently on the Michael Kay show.
Among the highlights were his feelings on Brad Richards, Henrik Lundqvist, his working relationship with Glen Sather, and looking forward to his new head coaching role in Vancouver.
On his exit from New York:
“I really didn’t stick around and ask too many questions. It’s part of the business. I don’t have a bad word to say about the organization. I love the people and the players here. It’s all part of the business and it’s what you sign up for.”
On keeping Brad Richards:
“I think it’s good – I think Brad Richards is a hell of a hockey player and still can be. I’m not going to explain some things that I think he needs to do to get back there – it’s not my job anymore and I don’t feel comfortable doing that. But Brad and I had a very frank conversation at the exit meetings and I think there’s plenty of hockey left in Brad Richards.”
On Henrik Lundqvist:
“Henrik and I – I have a tremendous amount of respect for him. The first couple of years it was up-and-down. I demanded a lot of things out of him. A lot of things I thought were wrong with him as far as the team concept. But I’ll tell you right now, there’s not a player I’ve coached who trains as hard and competes as hard as he does. People try to throw his name in the basket as running me out of here but I don’t believe it. These are the things you wonder about but no coach wants to hear that a player wants you out of here [New York], but things happen.”
On Tortorella’s style of play, possibly running him out of New York:
“I walk a fine line how I push athletes and how I continue to push athletes – some guys may be upset by it, some may use it as an excuse, some may not like it, and they have the right to be upset about it – but no one said a word to me about it. If that’s what happened that so be it. I gave everything I could to the team and I thought we did some really good things I’m proud of this organization.”
On his working relationship with Glen Sather on how to play hockey in New York:
“Glen and I clashed all the time. We had a lot of differences in opinion. But we had a great relationship and I don’t wish anything bad on him. I enjoyed working for him, and the organization. But you’re going to have arguments and debates and differences of opinion – that’s how it is. But Glen makes the final call – it’s his call and he made the call.”
On his relationship with the media:
“I’m not going to sit here and apologize – I did what I did, I do what I do – I know especially this year some things got blown out of proportion that I allowed – that I put myself in – but I’m a guy with the media and not a coach. I think I put a couple players in a bad spot this year and I really regret. As far as Vancouver media, yeah I need to make some adjustments…and I’m going to. It’s worn me out, all I’ve talked about with the media. I certainly don’t want to put the team or players in a spot. I didn’t mean to, but I did.”
He continues, “I’m very emotionally invested in games. I’m already thinking about what we did right, what we did wrong. I’m not whining about it, because all coaches need to do it, but I’m not good at it.”
You can listen to the full call on ESPNNewYork.com.