John Tortorella is still an unemployed NHL head coach and his newfound downtime at home is making his wife a little crazy. “It’s a test on the marriage, I tell ya,” he joked during a Friday appearance on WDAE radio in Tampa.
The former NHL bench boss will return to coaching on Sunday when he leads a side of top high school players in the Lightning Conference All-Star Game during Hockey Day in Tampa Bay.
Since being dismissed as head coach of the Vancouver Canucks last May Tortorella told “The Sports Page” hosts Tom Jones and Rick Stroud that he’s kept busy watching a lot of games, but has found it difficult to not do so without doing it through the eyes of a coach, breaking down what happens on the ice.
Along with that, Tortorella mentioned that he and his former assistant coach Mike Sullivan have been developing their own “analytic package” while watching every 5-on-5 goal scored from last season.
Speaking of last season, it was a bit of a different Tortorella that we saw at times. We didn’t see a lot of the pissed off guy barking at the media at every opportunity. (Maybe because Larry Brooks was 3,000 miles away?) And outside of that one incident in with the Calgary Flames and Bob Hartley, he worked to better himself.
“I think you mature along the way,” said Tortorella. “I know I make my own bed in some of these different things that have happened. You’re talking to a guy that went down a hallway after another coach last year. That’s so across the line and so embarassing to my organization and my team.
“I think I’ve controlled myself more. I really worked at that last year in Vancouver. That was really one of the bad spots of my season when I did that.”
The Canucks started last season well and sat in a playoff spot until late February when they lost seven of ten games and fell out of the picture for good. Tortorella blamed himself for that slide, which he believes ultimately led to his firing.
“We had a great first half,” he said. “But I don’t think I did the job for the team the second half with our consistency and I think that’s what cost me my job. We couldn’t stop the losing streaks. We needed to win a couple of games within those areas. And quite honestly, I deserved to get fired after that second half of the year.”
Tortorella is still getting paid with two years left on his contract after this one and $4 million coming to him. But he’s a coach, so while collecting paychecks to sit around and watch hockey is nice, he misses the life of being an behind an NHL bench.
“That’s what I miss most, is being in the room and seeing what [the player's] personalities are, them coming back at me if they don’t like what they heard from me. That’s how you develop the relationships. I have some strong ones out there in Vancouver, and along with the other teams too. I think there’s a little bit of misperception, but nothing I can do about that.
“But I tell ya, I miss that part of it terribly, is being in the locker room with teams."
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