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John Tortorella didn’t make any great proclamations or predictions in his first television interview as Team USA’s coach for the World Cup of Hockey.
In a chat with ESPN’s Steve Levy on SportsCenter Monday evening where Tortorella was officially announced as Team USA’s bench boss, he struck an even-keeled tone.
This was especially true when Tortorella was asked about his all-or-nothing style as a coach and its impact on players for the short tournament.
“I think you have to be really important not to give (the players) too much. We don’t have many days,” Tortorella said. “We’re going to keep it simple. We’re going to be straight ahead. We need to allow the players to express themselves when we play in this tournament. But we’re certainly going to look to try to win this. It’s not going to be a situation where, ‘It’s great to be here.’ We need to get our mindset straight that we’re going to win this thing.”
Tortorella seemed like an unconventional choice by Team USA general manager Dean Lombardi for the competition, which is set to start Sept. 17 of next year in Toronto. He had been out of NHL work since the 2014 offseason.
Still, he’s the winningest American born coach in NHL history with 446 victories, nine ahead of Nashville Predators coach Peter Laviolette.
The tournament is supposed to run through Oct. 1 at the latest. Team USA will play in an initial grouping with Canada, the Czech Republic and Team Europe,
Even Tortorella indicated he was a little confused when Lombardi called several weeks ago to talk about the position. Tortorella was fired in the summer of 2014 by the Vancouver Canucks after a turbulent one-year tenure.
“When he introduced he was on the phone, I wasn’t sure where it was going, but when he started talking about this situation … surprised? I don’t know. I was excited,” Tortorella said. “I’ll tell you that right now when we started talking about it. To be involved with your best athletes and your country in this type of situation, I was all in. He went through the process and I’m very humbled to have the opportunity to be involved with this.”
Lombardi seemed pleased with the choice of Tortorella, who won the 2004 Stanley Cup as head coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“We’re excited to have John as head coach of our World Cup team. He knows what it takes to win at the highest level and I know that our entire management group looks forward to working with him and his staff.”
Team USA won the event in1996. The last time the tournament was played was 2004 when Canada defeated Finland in the final.
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