November 01, 2011
One could hear the clarification coming from miles away: Joe Thornton(notes) — frustrated by the San Jose Sharks' effort in the last game of their road trip, losing for the first time on that six-game swing to the New York Rangers — drops the S-bomb on the Blueshirts:
"To be honest with you, they were probably the softest team we played against on this road trip."
As we explained last night: There's nothing soft about the Rangers' style. This was a moment of off-the-cuff aggravation for Thornton, and he told TSN's Darren Dreger earlier on Tuesday that "'soft was not the word to describe" the Rangers; that he was trying to say they were a team the Sharks should have beaten.
Did Rangers Coach John Tortorella hear this clarification? It probably doesn't matter. The outspoken bench boss had the bazooka loaded at Joe, via Pat Leonard the New York Daily News:
"Yeah it caught me off-guard when it was brought up after the game," Tortorella said at the team's Greenburgh practice facility Tuesday morning. "It surprised me, and I've never heard a player say that. Joe's a heck of a player, but here's a player popping off about our team, and Joe hasn't won a g--damn thing in this league. He could go down as a player, being one of the better players in our league never to win anything. So what he should do is just shut up. It was uncalled for, it was classless, and I've never had it happen like that before."
Well, that was much more verbose that Tortorella's response on Monday night:
"Joe said that? Wonderful?"
Tortorella, of course, won a Stanley Cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Thornton has yet to play for a Stanley Cup. And who doesn't love a rant about class from someone that turns a discussion about a team's toughness into a ring finger-measuring contest? (That said, we have to give this round to Torts; NY bull-doggedness trumps California cool every time.)
In what we're sure is a completely unrelated story as it pertains to Tortorella's temperament, Sean Avery was recalled by the Rangers today. HBO 24/7, you can't get here soon enough.