John Tortorella has done something rather amazing. He has turned the conversation in the postseason from criticism of his team's shot-blocking to criticism of himself.
Well it hasn't completely stopped the block talk. For example, CBS Sports Network hockey analyst Dave Starman just tackled the issue. But after Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals he's about the only one who is still talking about the game and not talking about the talking.
By now you're well aware that Tortorella has made a habit of brief press conferences, particularly after losses. He has gone into a shell and refuses to say anything descriptive whatsoever. He won't talk about individual players. Anything that might resemble something strategic is left unexplained. Give him a yes or no question and he'll take the easy out with a one-word answer.
It has gotten to the point that it's been suggested the media return the favor to Tortorella and stage a walk-out at Tortorella's next setting. I'm serious, that's a real suggestion.
And it makes me laugh. What is that going to do other than please Tortorella? The guy would probably love nothing more than not to have to talk to the media ever, so walking out isn't going to teach him a lesson. It's going to make a dream come true. The only skin off his back is that he spent the team to walk down the hall to the media room. Poor guy.
I've been one of those media members. I was present for a couple of his pressers in the second-round series with Washington. I admit that I'm on the side that actually finds them funny. I sat in the second row and was doing my best not to crack a smile. I was afraid to find out what would happen if an angry Torts saw me grinning like a teenage boy who snuck into an R-rated movie.
It was one of the many postgame briefings that he has given that was just that, brief. But only in their production. The post-press talk has been anything but brief.
Safe to say, he and his press conferences have been all the rage.
Some are saying he's brilliant for taking the heat off his own players. I wish I could give the guy that much credit. I don't believe this to be a strategic move but nothing more than self-serving. He doesn't want to talk so he doesn't talk other than what he's mandated to do, which is to make an appearance. It might have some positive effects as far as Tortorella is concerned, but I don't believe that to be his intention.
A part of it is that he's in the industry of fear. Coaches today more than ever are afraid of what they might give away. He falls into the Bill Belichick mentality in that regard, not much comes from talking to the media.
It's as if saying that Ryan Callahan needs to start driving the net more (for example) to start scoring is going to be a series-changing statement. Now the Devils are going to know exactly what Cally is going to do and stop it. Whatever happened to the old football mentality of "We're going to run the ball down your throat, see if you can stop it?" As long as you execute your game, you should be fine.
Instead Tortorella goes the tip-toe route.
One thing that people do forget is that these writers have jobs to do too. They rely on quotes to help them do their work, which is to pass information onto the fans. That's how the whole business works, you know that well enough. As I said I have been in that same spot and I can commiserate with the writers who are upset at the evasive Torts.
I'm curious to find out from you guys, the fans. Do you enjoy Tortorella's short pressers or do you think he's rude? Further, if you do enjoy the way he responds to questions is that because you find it funny or it comes more from a disdain of the media?