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.