BOSTON -- Before he was hired Oct. 21 to coach the Columbus Blue Jackets, John Tortorella had already been named Team USA's head coach for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.
Tortorella has plenty of international experience. He was an assistant coach at the 2010 Winter Olympics, as Team USA captured the silver medal. He also served as the team's head coach at the 2008 world championships and as an assistant at the 2005 worlds.
On March 2, the first 16 members of each World Cup roster will be announced. Tortorella recently discussed the process of preparing for the World Cup.
Joe McDonald: How do you balance coaching the Blue Jackets with preparing for the World Cup?
John Tortorella: It's not that difficult. [Team USA GM] Dean [Lombardi], Paul Holmgren and all those guys, they're doing a lot of the work of scouting and trying to put the list together. We'll have conference calls, and they'll give me certain assignments or certain questions that they want answered, but it's not hard. I have my folder for our team, and I have my folder for the World Cup team, and when I'm in that time of talking with Dean and the guys, I'm just focused on that part of it.
It's stimulating to me because you're stimulated by your team and your players, but when you're talking about other players from other teams and listening to other general managers, it's stimulating. You learn, and I've learned already from listening to them speak and some of their thoughts and how we want to approach it, so it's not difficult. To me, it's fun.
McDonald: You're getting the inside scoop on players you compete against during the regular season. How does that factor into your discussions for the World Cup roster?
Tortorella: Some of the conversations are about the philosophy and how we're going to play. There are a lot of different subjects when we're on a conference call that we talk about, but to me, it's an honor to be on the call and to listen to these guys ask me questions and me ask them questions about certain players and where they fit. I'm excited about it. This is a ways away, but to be with this group, we're talking hockey. It's not just about your team, and it's an honor and stimulating all wrapped up in one.
McDonald: The first 16 roster spots for each team will be announced March 2. How is Team USA's roster shaping up?
Tortorella: I'm not going to give you any names, but we're still working at it. I know later this week we're going to talk again. I've talked to my coaches over the past week, wanting some input from them, as far as the list that has been given to me from Dean, so it's an ongoing process of trying to whittle it down because there are so many good players.
You have your good players, but then you have to worry about what their role is going to be because all these guys will be the top players on their National Hockey League teams. Guys are going to have to accept different roles with a World Cup team, so we're trying to work through all that too. That's the cool part of it. Will he be able to do this? Can he play there? Those are the conversations we're having now. Just this past week we brought in the assistant coaches, and we've had conversations, and then we report back to the general manager. It's an ongoing, pretty cool process.
McDonald: When you look at the roster for Team North America -- under-24 players from the U.S. and Canada] -- that's a talented team. How much damage do you think the young guys can do in this tournament?
Tortorella: I look at the young guns, and they're going to probably be playing pressure-free, and they're going to have a ball. It's going to be a dangerous team. It's going to be a really good team, talent-wise, but just the youth of it and basically the inexperience of it all, they're going to be flying. It's going to be a really good hockey club. You're going to see the best players in the world at this tournament -- even more so than the Olympics because it's not going to be as watered down as the Olympics. It's going to be really focused on these groups of guys, and it'll be the best players in the world.