Barry Trotz may not be content as the Director of Donut & Coffee Acquisition for the Nashville Predators. Instead, he may want to coach the Washington Capitals. A noble idea, but there’s some doubt that he can win over that room. Trotz is a former Portland Pirates (at the time the Caps’ AHL affiliate) and…Washington Capitals…head coach who may be itchy to get back behind the bench. Is he ready for this coach-killing team?
This is not a missive supporting the former New York Rangers head coach. Nor is it a platform to highlight Tortorella’s off-ice endeavors, though rewarding and socially uplifting as they are. No, this is embracing the notion that the scowliest coach this side of true human sacrifice gets the nod to rudder the least defensive crop of gym glass heroes in history.
“Blocking shots is a part of playing proper defense.” Yes, blocking shots is universally accepted part of playing defense in this game of ice hockey. Sound of mind, bad for body. But so what. Torts got the Tampa Bay Lightning a Stanley Cup with defense, the Rangers to the 2012 East final with a similar mentality. Fortunately, if/when his scheme faltered, he had Nikolai Khabibulin and Henrik Lundqvist there to bail his teams out.
But there are times when his scheme and his roster don’t exactly mesh. Take Vancouver. Offensive forwards, offensive defensemen, a goalie so used to covering for their mistakes he wanted to go back to Sunrise. The Sedins will never be confused for Callahan and Dubinsky, willing to push the millstone and take a howitzer to the shin to deny a scoring opportunity. It did, however, reduce the scoring opportunities for HIS team. That doesn’t sit well with a team built to hang 6 a night. As we know, the Canucks looked for a different approach. Just like the Rangers.
Doesn’t help when Tortorella was reined in by ownership, and told to play nice with the Canadian media. WHERE ON EARTH DID ANYONE GET THE IDEA THAT JOHNNY-T WAS SUCH AN ASSHOLE TO THOSE CRITICAL OF HIM AND HIS TEAM WHERE OH WHERE.
Thankfully, the Washington Capitals just fired a mirco-manager. Someone who was more of a nitpick than a tactician. By the way, who also replaced a teenager-scaring “hardass.” The Capitals have tried every form of tough guy, so why not go Full Monty. That guy is John Robert Tortorella.
Tortorella will go where Adam Oates never dared. He will run the Caps into the ground in practice, teaching them the art of “masochism wins hockey.” He will not vaguely suggest to the media that his players aren’t up to snuff, he’ll call them pathetic and run down the list of who failed at what assignment. Not blocking shots will unhinge the beast. He will be the third most entertaining thing in the building, behind Ovechkin’s brilliant skating and Nik Backstrom’s bongo playing. He will not have a goalie anywhere near the aforementioned Khabibulin, Lundqvist, or Luongo. He’ll have the Twilight-vampire-looking Braden Holtby (who could use a real defense and/or defensive idea in front of him) and possibly Philipp Grubbauer. The joy.
Tortorella will make headlines, more than Ovechkin’s goals will, and more than Ted Leonsis could ever dream his philanthropic efforts would. There will be calls for blood and heads, no one initially knowing whose. The teetering Tortorella will do upon the fence “Asshole who lost the room” versus “Asshole who managed to galvanize a team and take the first wildcard” will be magical. Best part is, he won’t even know he’s doing it. It’ll just be John Tortorella.
He’s needed in DC.