Add Brandon Dubinsky to the list of New York Rangers players who seemed to have a falling out with John Tortorella toward the end of his reign as head coach of that team.
The 27-year-old told the Bergen Record on Thursday that he wasn’t particularly surprised when he heard that Torts was fired.
“Not really,” Dubinsky said. “I think my relationship with Torts fell apart the last year I was there and I just felt like his relationships with some of the other players could be doing the same thing so I guess that sums it up as to why I wasn’t completely surprised that it happened.”
One can rattle off a growing number of players who seemed to develop estranged relationships with Tortorella: former favorite Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik, now Dubinsky and possibly others.
Maybe burnout is almost inevitable with a hard-charging coach?
Regardless, Dubinsky said that facing his former team loses its luster since he’s been with Columbus for a while now. He admits that the trade hurt, as he was part of the young group helped the team grow into a contender, compared to the drive to trade for Rick Nash as the urge to grab a “new toy.”
” … I didn’t understand it quite that they would want to bring in as many new guys after a successful season and a successful playoff run. But sometimes that’s just how New York is, they like the flash and they want the dash and they want a new toy, I guess,” Dubinsky said. “And that’s no disrespect to the organization because they were so great to me. But, like I said, that was the hardest part. But when you get traded for a guy like Nash, he’s one of the elite players in the league, you can’t lose sight of that, he’s one of the best players in the NHL so I understand you have to give up some assets. I feel like they wouldn’t have just given me away for nothing.”
Dubinsky and plenty of former Rangers are mere minutes away from facing former teammates on Thursday.
Daniel and Henrik Sedin are both skilled forwards that have been performing at an elite level for the better part of a decade. They’ve also been referred to as soft, and that’s a label Canucks coach John Tortorella passionately disagrees with.
“I’m not sure who started it but I’m sure there are a couple of know-it-alls out there who always talk about it,” Tortorella said, according to the Vancouver Province. “But they don’t have a clue what these guys are about.”
He added, “It pisses me off, the reputation that’s still out there. It’s so undeserving and so disrespectful.”
Tortorella pointed to the twins’ puck protection skills and work along the boards as evidence of their toughness. He also feels that people look at their level of skill and just assume they don’t have a game beyond that.
The Sedin twins have become the cornerstones of the Canucks’ franchise and will remain in that role after agreeing to matching four-year, $28 million extensions today.
They are 33 years old, so the Canucks are gambling on the idea that they won’t regress significantly over that span, but if you’re going to make that kind of bet, these are the guys you want to do it with. They have stayed relatively healthy throughout their careers and haven’t slowed down significantly yet.
Not to mention that they have clearly earned Tortorella’s respect.
Things got heated at the end of a wild first period between Edmonton and Vancouver.
After the Canucks scored two goals in an 18-second span, a sequence of rough stuff led to a verbal altercation between Vancouver head coach John Tortorella and Oilers associate Keith Action.
Here are two screengrabs, courtesy CBC:
The issue between the two likely stemmed from an incident involving Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler and Acton’s son, Will Acton. The pair fought with 41 seconds left in the frame — alongside some pushing and shoving between Ryan Stanton and Mike Brown. All told, 26 penalty minutes were handed out for the incident(s), which culminated with Tortorella and the elder Acton sharing pleasantries.
Vancouver finished the first period up 3-1.
Update: Here’s a Vine of Acton’s portion of the yelling match. Don’t read lips…
Alain Vigneault coached the Vancouver Canucks for seven seasons while John Tortorella was the New York Rangers’ bench boss for five, so Thursday’s upcoming preseason game must be weird for both of them. They spoke about as much with the Bergen Record earlier today.
“It is strange,” Vigneault said. “Strange is a word I can use right now. Coming in this morning and saying hi to the staff that worked with me for a long time, it was special.”
Tortorella’s experience probably wasn’t as emotional since the game isn’t in Madison Square Garden. Still, he noted that he didn’t really want to leave the Rangers in the first place.
“I said right along, I loved working there,” Tortorella said. “Did I want to leave? No. I was told to leave and I left. It’s part of the game and I’m knee-deep in it here trying to get this team ready to play.”
As far as regular season meetings go, the Canucks go back to MSG on Nov. 30 while Vancouver hosts the Rangers on April Fool’s Day, 2014.
One of John Tortorella’s recent trademarks is his desire to have players block shots. As Vancouver Canucks forward Jordan Schroeder found out last night, that can be pretty painful.
Schroeder blocked a Nail Yakupov slapshot in the second period of Vancouver’s 5-2 loss to Edmonton. It was his first game back since having his shoulder operated on this summer.
Some were worried he broke his foot, but as Ben Kuzma of The Province reports Tortorella had other issues.
“He had x-rays but I’m not so sure about the machine,” said Tortorella. “We’ll wait until we get home and right now it’s a bruised foot.”
I’m sure there’s a joke to be made here about Tortorella not trusting technology and some wisecrack about Twitter, but I got nothing for you.
As for Schroeder, he’s gunning for a job as the Canucks’ third line center. Any further setbacks like this won’t do him any favors in trying to stay full-time in the NHL.