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.