Report: John Tortorella — yes, John Tortorella — will coach USA at World Cup

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Bit of a stunner ahead of tonight’s announcement from USA Hockey — per TSN, John Tortorella has been chosen to lead the American team at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

It’s a decision that will definitely generate debate.

Tortorella, 57, is the winningest American coach in NHL history but has been unceremoniously dumped from his last two gigs. His last stop, the ’13-14 campaign in Vancouver, was an outright disaster — the Canucks recorded their lowest points percentage in 14 years and Tortorella was slapped with a lengthy suspension for trying to attack Calgary head coach Bob Hartley.

If you’re trying to make sense of the hire, do consider Tortorella has history with USA Hockey. He was the head coach of the team that finished sixth at the 2008 Worlds, and an assistant at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.

So this hiring isn’t totally out of left field.

But it’s definitely out of shallow left field.

There are other candidates — seemingly more “in form” candidates — like Peter Laviolette and Todd Richards, both of whom were mentioned in our now-hilariously-useless poll from earlier today.

There was also some thought the World Cup of Hockey would be comprised primarily of (active) NHLers, especially among the North American teams, since Doug Armstrong is the Canadian GM, Dean Lombardi is the American GM and Peter Chiarelli is the Youngstars GM.

That said, we could see a trend developing among coaches, as in, maybe they’re looking for guys to focus solely on the World Cup?

If Tortorella takes the U.S. gig on the heels of Ralph Krueger accepting the Team Europe bench boss position, it could suggest coaches for this event will be ones focused solely on the World Cup — unlike NHL coaches, who would (theoretically) be preoccupied with the upcoming campaign, training camp, exhibition games and the like.

Remember that, in February, Tortorella said he wanted to coach again and sounded determined to do whatever it took to break back in.

Video: Don Cherry sounds off on John Tortorella suspension

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Don Cherry addressed the John Tortorella suspension during his seven-minute segment Coach’s Corner on Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday.

Cherry said the ban of 15 days, equal to six games, levied on Tortorella by the National Hockey League on Monday was “too much.”

Tortorella, the fiery Canucks’ head coach, received the supplemental discipline after charging over to the Calgary Flames’ dressing room during the first period of last Saturday’s fight-filled affair at Rogers Arena.

Television cameras caught Tortorella in the middle of a scuffle in the hallway just outside the Flames dressing room, with players jammed up in the tunnel looking on.

Tortorella was angry with Flames head coach Bob Hartley for starting his tough guys Brian McGrattan and Kevin Westgarth. He countered a lineup that included Tom Sestito and Dale Weise. The result: a line brawl off the opening faceoff.

Hartley was fined $25,000 by the NHL for his role in the brawl. Flames interim general manager Brian Burke also voiced his disagreement with the fine, saying he was “perplexed” by the league’s decision.

Burke later added during a public lecture to law students at the University of Calgary: “…we all know the Canucks started it.”

Sean Avery calls for John Tortorella’s head

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The New York Rangers’ headaches continued on Saturday with a 3-0 loss to the Montreal Canadiens, prompting one of the team’s former headache-makers to come out of the woodwork.

Retired winger Sean Avery wasn’t shy about laying the blame at John Tortorella’s feet, calling for his last NHL coach’s head on Twitter:

Now that’s some quality chirping. Let’s look at the checklist:

  • He spoke about himself in the third person (or at least the third Twitter handle).
  • Solid use of all caps.
  • He demanded that Tortorella gets fired.
  • Apparently Torts doesn’t like the word clown.
  • Avery even threw in Charlie Sheen’s #winning at the end.

Admit it, you kind of miss Avery’s antics, don’t you?

It didn’t take long for John Tortorella to return to form

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One thing we all missed during the lockout was John Tortorella’s post-game grumbling. After the Rangers’ 3-1 loss to the Bruins last night, he showed that a little extra time off didn’t cause him to lose his edge.

What got under Torts’ skin? His team taking bad penalties as Katie Strang from ESPNNewYork.com reports. In particular, Brian Boyle’s unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for arguing with a referee after being assessed a goaltender interference call irked him.

“That’s a penalty with the goalie. It’s a penalty,” Tortorella chided. “He needs to shut his g—— mouth. It’s just momentum. It’s a game of momentum. It certainly gave them that.”

All right, who wants to argue about momentum with the coach, hmm?

Taking an extra dumb penalty to go along with a mistake that’s already been made is a great way to land on Tortorella’s radar. Doing it in a losing cause is a great way to earn extra grief during practice. Boyle will try to redeem himself tonight against the Penguins at Madison Square Garden.

John Tortorella: Labor’s voice of reason

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We’ve read plenty of angry words from writers and some disappointing words from those involved in labor talks, so of course the guy providing a healthy dose of common sense is… John Tortorella?

ESPN-New York’s Katie Strang heard from the Rangers coach during his charity dog walking event today, and he had all the right insight for both the NHL and NHLPA when it comes to figuring out their dispute.

“I just hope we keep on learning that this needs to be a partnership for this league to continue to flourish and grow as it has.”

From how Tortorella carries himself during and after games, you’d never think he’d be the guy with the cool head through all this, but here we are.

What’s lost in these labor talks is that it is a partnership between the players and owners, but negotiations have been made to look blurry with the owners’ steep demands on the players.