NHL Playoffs 2012: John Tortorella Shows True Colors in 4-1 Loss

Riley KuftaContributor IIIMay 22, 2012

NEWARK, NJ - MAY 21:  Head coach John Tortorella of the New York Rangers speaks to the media after they lost 4 to 1 to the New Jersey Devils in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Prudential Center on May 21, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

First off, I'd like it to be known that this isn't another article about John Tortorella's attitude towards the press. As ridiculous as he is with a microphone in front of his face, we've all seen his antics and any more coverage on it would be pointless. 

This article is about how he coaches his team. 

Earlier this evening, the New Jersey Devils tied the series at two with a decisive 4-1 win over the New York Rangers

Whether a cause or result of the loss, a noticeable difference for the Rangers was the lack of discipline throughout the game, giving up six power plays to their one. While some may be attributed to team frustration, there was one point at which the credit goes to John Tortorella.  

Just over six minutes into the third period, the Rangers coach made a last second change to get defenders Stu Bickel and Steve Eminger on the ice to join Ruslan Fedotenko, Mike Rupp and John Mitchell.  

Putting Bickel and Rupp on the ice at that moment in the game with the Devils up 3-0, was not a coincidence—nor was the fact that both players took penalties, including an unjustified punch to the face of Martin Brodeur from Mike Rupp.  

At this point, you're probably asking, why does this matter? All players and coaches get frustrated during losses. 

Well, what makes this significant is that in the rare occasion that John Tortorella does actually meet with the media, he often makes a point to mention one or two dirty plays delivered by the opponent. 

In fact, just prior to the end of the regular season, Tortorella had this to say regarding a Brooks Orpik knee to Rangers forward Derek Stepan: 

It’s a cheap, dirty hit. I wonder what would happen if we did it to their two whining stars over there. I wonder what would happen. So I’m anxious to see what happens with the league with this. Just no respect amongst players. None. It’s sickening.

In the clip, Tortorella goes on to call Pittsburgh "one of the most arrogant organizations in the league," claiming that they often whine about hits themselves.  

Ironically, Tortorella's rant or "whine" to the media about the Pittsburgh Penguins not only cost him a $20,000 fine, but set himself up perfectly to be called a hypocrite down the road. 

After all, the one-game suspension to Brandon Prust marks the third time since the start of the regular season began that a member of the Rangers has received a suspension; just one less than the "arrogant Penguins."

For the record, this is not to say that the Rangers are one of the dirtier teams in the league, or vice versa. What it is to say, is that John Tortorella, when he does talk to the media, preaches a clean game and calls other teams out for their wrong-doings. 

True or not, that is a mistake. A coach should never call another team dirty, call them divers or say that the refereeing was the deciding factor of the game, because it's a guarantee that at some point the same can be said about you; it's just the nature of hockey. All teams take hits over the line sometimes, embellish a play or get a questionable call in their favor. 

And this is a perfect example, as John Tortorella can now be called dirty and whiny by whoever feels the need to say it. 

Of course, if you ask Tortorella about the dirty hits or the "strategic" decision to send Rupp and Bickel out at that time, you wouldn't get a straight answer, because the Rangers play a clean game. 

In fact, in a surprising media gathering that exceeded four minutes following the game, Tortorella claimed that Rupp's punch to the New Jersey goaltender shouldn't have happened because it was the result of a penalty received on a clean hit. In addition, when asked why the Rangers lost the game, Tortorella attributed it to lack of puck possession, failing to note the clear lack of discipline.  

It is important to note that when asked about the yelling match between John and Devils coach Pete DeBoer following the third-period scrum, Tortorella did not comment, keeping the conflict to a minimum this time.