Now that we’ve entered the twilight zone period of summer between free agency moves and the commencement of the 2019-20 season, there’s not much to do except speculate on how the Jackets’ roster is going to shape up in the coming months. So, instead of doing that, I want to take a look back at some of John Tortorella’s most memorable post-game press conference moments.
Whether you love him or love to loathe him, this man is an enigmatic cornerstone of the Blue Jackets culture. (To be clear — I love him). He possesses the kind of simultaneous good nature and razor-sharp intensity that can intimidate even the most weathered sports reporter. I’m pretty sure he can silence an errant cell phone buzz with just his eyeballs. It’s hard to say which answer is his favorite to provide to a room of reporters: “no” or “next question.”
Some say he can be borderline disrespectful towards reporters who are just trying to provide thorough coverage of his team’s performance, but I disagree. He just literally does not tolerate stupid questions. Ask a thoughtful question, and you’re more than likely to receive a thoughtful answer. Ask a dumb question — well, you asked for it.
Here’s an example: after losing Game 4 to the Caps in the playoffs, Torts didn’t feel like further explaining why his team “laid an egg” and “sucked” that night. Keep asking him a different form of the same question and he’s going to abruptly leave the podium.
.@BlueJacketsNHL head coach John Tortorella back at it again with the memorable press conferences! pic.twitter.com/gP6mHxjauw— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) April 20, 2018
Maybe even more so than dumb questions, Torts does not tolerate cell phones in his press conferences. It’s usually abundantly clear that he’s not trying to waste a lot of time in these brief meetings, and nothing quite ticks him off like a reporter’s non-silenced phone interrupting him.
However, in a weird twist of fate that I can only attribute to Jarmo’s then-recent acquisition of players such as Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel in February 2019, Torts was in such a good mood that he didn’t mind a phone going off during his conference — in fact, he did The Athletic’s Tom Reed a favor and answered a call from Reed’s mother himself, quipping “I’d rather talk to you than your son.”
John Tortorella pauses his press conference to talk to the mom of a reporter when she calls a phone on the podium pic.twitter.com/J4OwOhuYA3— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) February 25, 2019
This next moment isn’t so much from a press conference as it is from an entire evening — Torts, who had been exhibiting flu-like symptoms on game day against the Philadelphia Flyers, opted to don a Blue Jackets hoodie while coaching — a noticeable departure from the not-official-but-official dress code of a suit among NHL coaches.
Staying true to form, the CBJ social media team took it in stride:
step, step, sashay pic.twitter.com/7kR42OJnA1— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) December 7, 2018
They even went so far as to match the Twitter avi and header to his outfit of the night:
#CBJ #BlueHoodies pic.twitter.com/qH2MOALUKs— Mark Scheig (@markscheig) December 7, 2018
But hey, stats are stats — Torts is undefeated in games where he’s worn a hoodie, and he looked damn comfortable doing it.
I started with the intention of only plucking these favorite Torts moments from his time with the Blue Jackets, but that would be ignoring a majority of his illustrious coaching career, plus that would exclude me from extracting this last gem from the archives.
While in New York City, Tortorella’s animosity with New York Post’s Larry Brooks was well-documented and widely known. It comes to a funny and cringe-inducing boil in this 2007 encounter:
Long live Torts with the perpetual mic-drop.