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- American ice hockey coach
TORONTO – It’s nights like this when you miss the old John Tortorella, the fiery guy who wouldn’t have showered his winless World Cup of Hockey team with platitudes.
Instead, the guy at the podium after Team USA’s 4-3 loss to the lowly Czech Republic on Thursday night praised many aspects of his team’s game and cautioned the hockey world not to put the plunger down and blow up the program after its flop in Toronto.
“I thought we played hard. For most of that game, I thought we did the things we needed to do. We developed some scoring chances. Just couldn’t score enough,” he said.
“I’ll take the hits. I like the team. I liked how they were before the game. I liked them on the bench tonight.”
Some of the players who spoke after the game defended their coach and coaching staff as well.
“There should be no blame for those guys. Those guys did a great job, it’s on the players,” said forward Justin Abdelkader, who scored a goal in the loss. :The players, we either make the coaches look good or, in the case of this tournament, obviously the blame’s going on [Tortorella]. There should be no blame on him. He did a great job of getting us ready. He’s a great motivator, he’s a coach that really is passionate and it comes out each and every time he speaks. It comes down to the players not executing and not playing the way our team needs to play to be successful.”
The loss ended their tournament at 0-3-0, their worst international showing in recent memory. There were more chants in the deadened crowd for players that didn’t make the team than there were encouraging the team on the ice. There have been calls for USA Hockey to completely reconsider the way it selects players, builds teams, approaches these tournaments and selects coaches.
And by calls, we also mean concerns, like this one from a certain USA Hockey legend:
I have great respect for USA hockey but not win a game is very disappointing and makes me wonder where we are heading
— MIKE ERUZIONE (@MERUZIONE) September 23, 2016
Tortorella, however, cautioned about reactions becoming overreactions after a three-game embarrassment in Toronto.
“The bottom line is we leave here with nothing, and so certainly we can’t be happy about that. In a tournament like this, I think you’ve got to be really careful not to lose your mind as far as what’s going on with some of the guys. It’s a different type tournament, so I think we’ve got to really — as far as the U.S., the organization, we’ve just got to slow ourselves down and dissect what’s happened. It certainly isn’t good, but not to the extent as far as the chatter all around us. I think we’ve got to block out the noise, reassess where we went, and see what we can do to get us better as an organization,” he said.
What things need to change?
“There are a number of things that I think there’s going to be in discussion. I certainly have some thoughts, but I’m not going to bring it out here. I think it’s best that I just keep it to myself,” said Tortorella.
Yeah, we miss the old John Tortorella.
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