Just when John Tortorella thought he was out of marquee NHL events, they pull him back in.
The Rangers bench boss clinched one of the 2012 All-Star Game coaching gigs by virtue of New York’s overtime win against Florida last night. That guaranteed New York a higher winning percentage than Philadelphia by the Jan. 9 deadline — while the Rangers could still be caught by the Bruins, head coach Claude Julien was already on his way to the ASG by winning the Stanley Cup last season.
So, Torts is in for one of the league’s premier festivities.
This should prove sufficiently awkward given what transpired at the Winter Classic. There, Torts used another of the NHL’s largest stages to call the refereeing “disgusting” and insinuate the officials and NBC were in cahoots to send the game to overtime, which totally wasn’t true. (*tugs collar awkwardly*)
That cost Torts $30,000 in fines and a public apology, so my guess is we won’t hear him railing against fan voting or the fantasy draft format in Ottawa. ‘Cause hey, nobody wants to taint the All-Star Game with their mouth.
[PHT Notes: The race for the spot next to Torts on an all-star bench is still up for grabs. Five Western Conference coaches — Alain Vigneault, Joel Quenneville, Todd McLellan, Ken Hitchcock and Mike Babcock — are still in the mix.]