Hockey’s culture has changed and some people aren’t too happy about it.
One of those people is Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella. To him, the days of intense rivalries and sacrificing absolutely everything to come out on top are all but gone.
Tortorella’s never shied away from telling anyone who will listen what he thinks, and the old-school bench boss went on a bit of a rant about the subject on Thursday afternoon. The Blue Jackets released footage of his scrum with the media ahead of the team’s clash with the St. Louis Blues.
The 60-year old was asked about many coaches around the league pushing for their teams to “play the right way,” and with “more urgency.”
Gino Reda, the host of 7-Eleven’s That’s Hockey on TSN, tweeted out some of the video’s highlights.
Has the game gone soft?
— Gino Reda (@GinoRedaTSN) October 25, 2018
“There’s no hate and I miss that,” said Tortorella to the media. “Yeah, it frustrates the s–t out of me, quite honestly.”
That’s the kind of talk you’d expect out of a man whose team entered Thursday’s game with a record of 4-4-0 and, from the outside, it would appear that he was trying to send a bit of a message to his team.
He is, however, a credible source when it comes to this particular topic. After hanging up the skates himself, he began coaching in 1986 and has been a head coach in the NHL for nearly two decades. If anyone has seen a shift in hockey’s culture, it’s him.
On the other hand, Tortorella is a man who reminisces about the game’s past because he is known as an ‘old school’ coach. He’s hard on his players and expects the best out of them every day, as he should.
So, when you hear him say that today’s NHL “is like a big hug fest,” you have to remember that this is also the man who started that notorious scrum with the Calgary Flames while coaching the Vancouver Canucks.
In fairness, this tough and gritty approach to hockey has been very successful for him. He won the Stanley Cup while at the helm of the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004 and has claimed the Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s coach of the year twice — the most recent coming in 2017.
With these harsh comments coming a little out of left field, you have to wonder if he’s just trying to stir up discussion and take some of the attention away from the Jackets’ early season struggles on the ice. These aren’t the types of things that are said if your team is sitting atop its division.
Whether he truly believes what he’s saying or not, only time will tell if his words fuel an attitude shift in his own dressing room.
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