John Tortorella has never been one who was shy about blasting the media when he feels it is warranted. Most recently, the New York Rangers head coach was vocal about the way his team was being portrayed by the media in terms of their defensive style of blocking shots. Tortorella feels his team has been disrespected and he’ll do anything to fight for his guys. With that being said Torts knows the Devils were the better team in the Eastern Conference Finals, but is still proud of what his team accomplished this season.
New York can’t be satisfied with a bitter defeat to their cross river rivals, but Tortorella has re-energized the organization and fanbase. The Blue Shirts will look to add a scorer in the off-season and build off a very young core.
John Tortorella joined WFAN in New York with Mike Francesa to discuss his overall evaluation of the New York Rangers season, this Rangers team being on the cusp of greatness in the near future, the Rangers adding a scorer in the off-season, his anger towards the media for claiming the Rangers were making the playoffs boring by blocking shots and how the Rangers must approve in the off-season.
How would you describe your season?
“It’s a season where I thought we were going down the right road. I thought we progressed from being a bit of a bottom feeder at 7th, 8th and 9th. We wanted to try and get on the upper echelon of our conference and really I thought we accelerated to get into the conference finals although we can’t be satisfied. I thought it was a tremendous amount of experience that our club needs as a very young team.”
Any correlation to your Tampa Bay Lightning team the year before it won the Stanley Cup compared to this Rangers team?
“You know it’s interesting I still think we have a quite a bit of ways to go to go through the process to be a legitimate team that is going to be there every year. I felt the same way in Tampa when we were building that team, but Mike you never know. Did we think we were going to win a Stanley Cup that year? Not a chance. We didn’t even know what we were doing. We were just playing. We were playing well at the right time. We are going down the same road with this club here. I am really excited about some of the youth that is with us. I think a mixture of some of the veterans that we brought in has helped the intangible in that locker room, so we are going down the right road. We lost and we should have lost. New Jersey played better. I am not going to sit here and say New Jersey was a better team than we are, but they certainly played more minutes in that series and certainly deserved to go onto the final.”
You talked about adding a scorer. Can you add just anyone or does that player have to fit into what you built here defensively?
“Well I think it kind of has taken on a life of its own. As far as the shot blocking and the way we play defense? We play hard defense. Shot blocking is part of it. You are not going to win a championship unless you play a hard defense. We are certainly not going to…when you get some creative players and some creativity can be brought into your team we are certainly not going to look by that, but the players that you have at the end if you want to get where you want to be it certainly has to be a two-way street as far as playing away from the puck too. I’ll get out of their way offensively. You need to let them be creative, but there also has to be a two-way street in trying to defend also, so it’ll be interesting as we go through here. I don’t think we can be an organization that sits. All of the teams are going to try to get better. I think we need to do the same thing.”
Tell me why it annoyed you when the media was happy that the Rangers were out of the playoffs so hockey wouldn’t see as many blocked shots?
“Yeah. It pisses me off. Well because I think it is disrespecting our players. You can’t have it both ways here. I think we got a couple of idiots that follow our team and they don’t really understand the game. Three or four years ago the team didn’t play hard enough. Now the team…I am really proud of this club and how they have developed their identity and they play hard and shot blocking is part of it. Just to listen to the crap. The team ended up getting to the conference finals. One of the three teams remaining out of the 30. You can’t win Mike. It is one way or the other. There’s always got be something the matter and I don’t buy it. The thing that upsets me the most it disrespects the player. I really like this team and I will protect this team because they do play hard.”
What has to be better for this team next season?
“I think we have to secure more on our blue line. I think we have some really good players there in our top four that I think are going to be there. I think we need to add depth there. We do need to add some depth up front. A lot of people talk about our scoring and we were still 11th in the National Hockey League out of 30 teams, but I still believe we need to add something there. Really Mike I don’t think you can sit still. I think you need to try to get better in all areas cause all the other teams are trying to do it. I think we have a world class goalie that gives us the opportunity every night, so the other parts of our game including Hank. I thought he made a tremendous step this year in playoffs in winning a couple of rounds and getting into the 3rd, but we still are going to have to ask for more out of him if we are going to go where we want to be.”