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Sunday, March 6, 2011
Torts: 'I'd like to see Gabby smoke him'


Perhaps the most intriguing part of the postgame chatter following the Rangers' 7-0 win against the Flyers came during head coach John Tortorella’s press conference when he responded to a question about whether he was concerned that Marian Gaborik, just back from a concussion-induced absence, was trading jabs with the Flyers’ Kris Versteeg. The short answer: No.

The longer answer?

“That’s fine. You guys get all spooked about that. I’d like to see Gabby smoke him,” Tortorella said. “I think it would help our team. I think it would help him.

“Everyone talks about, well, he might break his hand or he’s one of those top players, but players have got to do their own business. I thought Gabby stuck in there. You guys get too worked up about that stuff. This is a game of hockey.”

To be fair all the way around, I think the question was more about Gaborik’s health in the wake of a concussion. As in, is it really smart for a guy with a head injury to be taking more hits to the head? Tortorella fielded it slightly differently, perhaps thinking it was about Gaborik’s toughness level or whether it’s okay for top scorers to engage in fisticuffs.

I think Tortorella is right that Gaborik sticking up for himself can help the Rangers and contribute to their blue collar ethos. That said, anyone who’s not concerned about concussions these days isn’t reading too many headlines. It’s a fine line the NHL has to walk and there’s no clear-cut way to handle such situations.

Man of the Hour

When the locker room doors opened for the media, Ryan Callahan’s teammates made a show about clearing the way for the smiling winger in the wake of his first-ever four-goal performance Sunday.

"Maybe in juniors, but never in the NHL," Callahan said when asked if he'd ever had a five-point game before."

Tortorella later applauded the intangibles that Callahan brings to the team, qualities that he showed in his postgame chat with the press.

“I think our start was really key tonight,” Callahan said. “We needed these two points so it’s a good time for the first career hat trick. And a couple of them were tap ins so I need to credit my teammates for those.”

“He’s emerging as one of our top leaders, as far as just the small things you do, the wall play, blocking shots, in the room in terms of readiness,” Tortorella said. “That’s who we are as a team. This team isn’t a bunch of flash. It’s a hardworking, grinding team and it certainly falls into place with Cally leading the way.”

Great White Mystery

Callahan said he’d love to where the white jerseys at home all the time, but has no idea why the Rangers sported them today. “They were just hanging up when we came in,” he said. Tortorella didn’t want to address the reason in his press conference either, referring the question to a member of the team’s PR staff who similarly declined. Whatever the reason, I’m sure the Rangers are happy with how the sartorial decision played out Sunday.