NEW YORK | John Tortorella won’t win any public speaking awards, and he probably won’t even win the Jack Adams Award this June. But it’s still worth noting that he’s a finalist for the NHL’s coach of the year honors.
Tortorella’s press conference during the New York Rangers’ morning skate Monday included just one answer to a question about stars and the supporting cast sharing the scoring load.
“We win and lose as a team,” he said.
Tortorella is a man of few words but will be at the awards show, likely as a runner-up to either Paul McLean of the Ottawa Senators or Ken Hitchcock of the St. Louis Blues. But his being a finalist is a validation of the Rangers buying into his style.
“When you play a lot of hockey, you play three, four times a week, you need a coach that’s passionate. He will challenge you, but I think it’s in a good way,” goaltender Henrik Lundqvist said. “You need to [be] challenged as a player. I think you know what to expect. When you get to know him, he’s pretty honest about everything. You probably know that. I think it’s well-deserved. He’s been great ever since he got here.”
Not only has Tortorella gotten New York to win with defense, shot-blocking and tight-checking; he keeps players from buying into their own success.
“If you’re playing well, he doesn’t let… you get a little too feeling good about yourselves,” forward Mike Rupp said. “I think that’s important to really sustain an even-keel the whole season. We don’t get too high, too low. He just kind of makes good reads on where the team’s at, and just not to let us get full of ourselves, and at the same time not to let us dwell after losses.”
Lundqvist is going to the awards show in Las Vegas as a finalist for the Hart Trophy as league MVP and Vezina Trophy as the top goaltender. He likes his coach, but don’t expect Lundqvist and Tortorella to be hanging out by the pool.
“Maybe not. I don’t know,” he said. “We see each other a lot during the year, so maybe I’ll hang out with a couple buddies, mostly.”