New York Hockey: Larry Brooks

Torts rebuffs Brooks with F-bomb

April, 15, 2011
New York Rangers head coach John Tortorella got a little steamed when he felt New York Post writer Larry Brooks was trying to box him in during the pregame presser prior Game 2 against the Washington Capitals.

The questioning started amiably enough with Brooks asking if Tortorella thought his team had its back against the wall. Tortorella responded that he never felt that way. As Brooks sought some clarification with follow-up questions, the Rangers bench boss accused the Post beat writer of trying to play with his words to get him to say something inflammatory. Barbs were hurled and Torts concluded the exchange with some R-rated language. Thanks to some handy video footage from Jesse Spector of the Daily News, you can check out the exchange here. Be forewarned there are no bleeps to censor the explicit language.

Friday's verbal jousting was not the first lively exchange between the pair. TSN compiled this Top 10 video of some of occasions when Mt. Torts blew its top. Brooks accounts for more than a few of them.

Is the pressure of the playoffs getting to the coach? I tend to think today's outburst has more to do with the, uh, special relationship he has with Brooks. However, as Vince Masi of ESPN Stats and Info shared, the playoffs have provided their fair amount of Tortorella outbursts. From Masi's notes:
" In 2009, Tortorella got into an altercation with a Capitals fan during Game 5 of their Conference Quarterfinals series, squirting spectators behind the bench with a water bottle and throwing it into the stands, striking a female fan. He also took a stick from one of his players before he was calmed down by one of his assistant coaches.

" After Game 5 of the 2007 Conference Quarterfinals, Tortorella -- then the coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning -- got into an argument during a post-game news conference again with Brooks. The conference was being broadcast live on CBC and when Brooks didn’t like the way Tortorella was answering the questions, Tortorella told him to “get the (expletive) out of here.”

" The previous year, the Lightning did not get great goaltending during their Conference Quarterfinals series against the Ottawa Senators. John Grahame allowed five goals on 20 shots in a Game 3 loss and then surrendered four goals on 17 shots in the Game 4 loss. After the game, Tortorella said of his goalie, “We’re sick of the 25-percent rule. We need to make an occasional save.”

" During Game 2 the 2004 Eastern Conference Finals against the Flyers, he accused then Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock of yelling at one of Tortorella’s Lightning players. Tortorella believed that Hitchcock should stay out of talking about the other team’s players saying, "The last time I looked, he's wearing a suit back there, the same type of suit that I'm wearing. He's not in the battle. ... You have two quality teams here. He should shut his yap. ... When it comes to a coach (and) an opposing player, it's disrespectful and it's wrong. It's gutless. That's got to stop. Park your ego and shove it in your pocket. It's about the two teams."

It's easy to see a list like this and mistake Tortorella for an angry badger. He's not. Most press conferences he's witty and has provided more than a few laughs from the press corps this season. He is, however, fiercely loyal to his team and does not hesitate to call it as he sees it. For better and worse, that's John Tortorella.

NHL not close to Isles intervention

December, 10, 2010
Don't hold your breath on the NHL stepping in to help halt the downward spiral of the New York Islanders franchise.

In his Friday blog for ESPN Insider, E.J. Hradek sat down Deputy Commish Bill Daly for a little Q&A. During the interview, Hradek asked how the league felt about suggestions that the NHL should intercede in the Islanders affairs, as suggested by NY Post writer Larry Brooks in a Dec. 5 column. Here's Daly's response:
"I don't think this is a situation that even comes close to warranting the league stepping in," Daly said. "You know, Charles Wang bought this franchise more than 10 years ago. He's expended numerous amounts of his own personal resources building the franchise and trying to build a winner on Long Island in very difficult business conditions because of the arena he plays in. He continues through the process of trying to secure a future for that franchise and having a new arena."

Sounds like the league still supports Wang in full, with Daly even pushing the Lighthouse Project angle with his allusion to "difficult business conditions." When Gary Bettman attended the Columbus Day game between the Rangers and Isles, he too seemed to be lobbying the Long Island politicians with his comments to the media. To that end, Daly's comments seem to be status quo from the NHL, despite sagging attendance numbers and a dismal showing in the standings.

I spoke with Hradek a little more about the possibility of NHL intervention about five minutes ago. Drawing on his past discussions with league personnel over the years, and particularly the recent example in Phoenix, he noted that it would essentially take a financial catastrophe for the league to intervene with the Islanders. Players missing paychecks, missed lease payments -- if the Isles bottom out in that way, the NHL could get involved. Right now though, the Islanders are not in a financial fix. They may not be spending big money, and Wang may be giving the impression he doesn't even care about this club, but they're still abiding by the league's rules.

In the Insider interview, Daly goes on to say he feels the Islanders' situation gets exacerbated because of the team's struggles this season and that they're in a different phase of their rebuild project, investing in the draft and waiting for prospects to develop. He closes by saying he believes Wang is "trying to secure the long-term future viability of that franchise on Long island." Sure, but do Islanders fans have to suffer until that happens?

On one hand I agree with Daly. Wang has certainly invested plenty of money in players in the past -- he just happened to invest in the wrong players. But the empty seats, the disrepair of the Coliseum and a salary cap situation in which the Islanders only meet the league minimum because they're still paying those same wrong players -- players who aren't even playing anymore -- certainly paints a poor picture of the franchise. It would be nice for Wang to do a little more for the Isles faithful. In the words of Carl Spackler, "How about a little something, you know, for the effort?"