Testy Tortorella doesn’t tolerate tardiness, won’t ‘beat up’ over Booth
Canucks notebook: New coach a quote machine
NEWARK, N.J. — To borrow a line from that noted philosopher Forrest Gump, interviewing John Tortorella on a daily basis is a little like opening a box of chocolates.
You never know what you are going to get, but usually it’s something pretty tasty.
Take Thursday morning, for example. Tortorella meets with the media on game days about five minutes before the Canucks’ morning skate. That’s 11:25 a.m., precisely, and you’d best not be late because he won’t be waiting for you.
Of course, the topic du jour was winger David Booth, who had been scratched for Tuesday night’s game on Long Island.
Tortorella was at his abrasive and very quotable best, letting reporters know that he wasn’t going to talk about it. Then he did.
Asked if the Booth decision was a difficult one for him, Tortorella said: “No. Again, I am not going to get into a public discussion when players don’t play. I have to make decisions for what’s best for the hockey club and what is the best lineup to win the game.”
Then Tortorella went on to drop a word — hinky — I’d never heard a coach use before.
“It’s part of the business,” he said of scratching players. “I think everyone gets a little hinky about it sometimes. It’s hard for anybody to tell any one of the players you’re not playing because they all want to play. But I don’t make those decisions. The players make those decisions by their play and I just follow up with it.”
A New York-area reporter then foolishly tried a follow-up question on Booth, which got this reply from Tortorella: “You are trying to ask a backward question there to tell me what I didn’t like about him.”
“You’re beating it up, guys,” Tortorella said when asked if Booth understood the message he was delivering. “I am not going to give any information at all if you keep on beating it up. I mean it. It’s not fair to the player. I am not going to have a public conversation on those types of situations. I showed you guys the respect that he was out, I gave you a quick thought on it and that’s the way it’s going to be.”
Alain Vigneault largely had gone all vanilla on us media types in the last days of his tenure as Canucks coach. Tortorella is more guarded than Vigneault when it comes to discussing injuries or lineup decisions, but he is nonetheless very quotable and at times brutally honest.
He was asked Thursday about why the Canucks seem to be drawing so few penalties this season.
Tortorella candidly said that he felt it probably had something to do with the Canucks’ past reputation.
“I know the reputation from the outside looking in, when I wasn’t coaching here and outside everybody thought Vancouver dove and did some whining.”
Tortorella then added this gem: “Our team is not going to dive. Our team has already been talked to. We are not going to dive. I don’t think there is much whining going on, either.
“I am certainly not trying to accuse the league or the refs of that, but I know there has been a reputation. I have been in the league long enough to know that sometimes that hangs around, too. So I guess it’s my chance to say we are going to be an honest team, we are trying to be an honest team and I hope we get some goddamn calls.”
Gold, pure gold, as we like to call it in the business. Keep those chocolates coming, coach.
BOOTH”S BACK: Booth drew back into the lineup Thursday night and before the game said being scratched delivered a clear message to him.
““It was definitely something I am not proud of,” Booth said. “The only way of getting out of that is by working harder, doing more, trying to get better.”
It was the first time Booth had been a healthy scratch in his NHL career.
“I was surprised,” he said. “It doesn’t sit well and I think it motivates you to do more, to work harder, to push yourself to places you have never been before.”
Booth also said he must make better use of his speed and added that he’s felt like he has been a half-step behind this season.
Defensively, Booth has been solid. Prior to Thursday night’s game, he had not been on the ice for a goal against this season and was plus-3 for the season.
GETTING CLOSE: Injured winger Alex Burrows participated in the full morning skate Thursday.
“I think it’s pretty close,” Burrows, who fractured his foot in the season-opener on Oct. 3. ”Today was the first practice with the boys, the morning skate, so it was fun to get back out there and skate with the group instead of skating on my own,” Burrows said. “It’s a step in the right direction today.”
Burrows said he would prefer to participate in a full practice before playing in a game. That would rule him out of Friday night’s game in St. Louis (5 p.m. Pacific, on Sportsnet Pacific, Team 1040).
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