John Tortorella criticizes NHL goal of the year for being too cool

John Tortorella is fed up with all this new offensive creativity with fangs.

John Tortorella is fed up with all this new offensive creativity with fangs.
Image: Getty Images

Last week, the NHL news around here was excessive violence, more excessive violence, the flyers are tremendously terrible, and the crazy last laps in the ten-year saga of the league trying to make recovery happen in Arizona.

The last one continued on Friday with the Glendale city manager calling big bullshit on the excuse of the Coyotes’ now paid bills.

Of all that’s going on, what’s really annoying? One of the best goals you’ve ever seen, Trevor Zegras feinting a move by Michigan and moving on to Sonny Milano, who beat him in the air and on the net.

At least, that’s what bothers you if you’re John Tortorella, 63, the former “Safe Is Death” master who gets just a little bit more every year. Abe Simpson.

In all honesty, it’s not like Tortorella pulled it out on his own: he was asked about the match between Zegras and Milan on an ESPN panel. As is his job now, Tortorella gave his opinion. And his opinion is exactly why he looks better on that panel than behind an NHL bench.

“I’m not trying to be a fool here, but I’m not so sure it’s great for the match,” Tortorella said. “If you did it in 2000, in the late 90s, in 2000, you would take your head off.”

Taking your head off was … great for the game? And scoring amazing goals that make an Anaheim Ducks vs Buffalo Sabers game noteworthy is … uh … right?

The fact is that Tortorella is not the only one to think so. Hockey culture has long embraced punishment for anyone who dares to show some personality out there. This isn’t new either, it’s just one of the crudest examples we’ve seen, with almost nothing external attached to it.

Zegras is a Boston University boy who grew up in Westchester, a stone’s throw from the Rangers training ground while Tortorella trained them. Milano is a Long Island boy who also arrived through USNTDP and played for Tortorella in Columbus. Their bio is as friendly as Torts can be short of being a last-round pick goalkeeper from Europe, and even then, Tortorella would tell you he pretty much leaves his goalkeepers alone.

That’s how much Tortorella hated this comedy. It wasn’t even about the celebration. This is not the hockey version of a bat throwing debate, or a return to the finished rage The slide along the ice of Nail Yakupov. And it wasn’t that the Ducks were upping the score, because this was the first goal, early in the second period, in what ended up 2-0.

The Ducks scored a goal, but they did it the wrong way. Not breaking any rules or anything, just too exhibitionist. And no one was punished for it, in fact there were only four penalties for the entire match.

The argument, perhaps, that if the Sabers had brought out their goal frustrations by being violent, it could have turned them on to get back into the game? The odds are just as good that the result of such nonsense is Anaheim’s power plays and an even tougher final score.

Perhaps what would be good for the game is to have more players who can make sick moves.


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