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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

John Tortorella


Jonathan "John" Tortorella, born June 24, 1958 is an American ice hockey coach for the New York Rangers of the National Hockey League (NHL). Tortorella was previously the head coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning and he led the team to the 2004 Stanley Cup championship. Tortorella became head coach of the Lightning on January 6, 2001 and stayed on until his firing on June 3, 2008 after six and a half seasons, having compiled a 239–222–36–38 record. The firing took place four years after the team's Stanley Cup victory.

Tortorella has been credited by East Coast Hockey League founders Henry Brabham and Bill Coffey with coming up with the name for the league during a league meeting at a Ramada Inn in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. At the time Tortorella was the head coach of Brabham's Virginia Lancers, but left the Lancers to become the assistant coach of the American Hockey League's New Haven Nighthawks before the ECHL's inaugural season in 1988.

Coaching career

Tortorella's coaching career began with the American Hockey League (AHL)'s Rochester Americans and the ECHL's Virginia Lancers. He was also an assistant coach for the AHL's New Haven Nighthawks and Rochester Americans, and the NHL's Buffalo Sabres, Phoenix Coyotes and New York Rangers. He won the Calder Cup with the 1996 Rochester Americans.

Tortorella is known for his outspoken nature—which has included criticizing his own players—and for his unusual system of regularly rotating goaltending duties during his time in Tampa Bay; a system which was discontinued when he became head coach of the New York Rangers and could use Henrik Lundqvist as the regular starting goalie.
Tampa Bay Lightning

Tortorella took over the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2000–01 as a mid-season replacement. The team won only 28% (12 of 43) of its games to end the season, finishing last in the division. The following season, the team finished third in the division but had a losing record and did not qualify for the playoffs. The 2002–03 season marked Tortorella's first winning season as an NHL head coach, as the Lightning won the Southeast Division, losing to the New Jersey Devils four games to one in the second round of the 2003 playoffs. At the end of the season he was also recognized as a finalist for the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year, losing out to Minnesota's Jacques Lemaire.

In 2003–04, Tortorella's fourth season with the team, the Lightning won their second consecutive Southeastern Division title. The Lightning were the top seed in the Eastern Conference and proceeded to defeat the New York Islanders, the Montreal Canadiens, and the Philadelphia Flyers to win the Prince of Wales Trophy and the Eastern Conference Championship. In the Stanley Cup Finals, they defeated the Western Conference champion Calgary Flames four games to three, winning the first Stanley Cup in franchise history. In doing so Tortorella became just the third American-born coach to win it and the first in 13 years. The team was in its eleventh year of existence. It was the last Stanley Cup won before the 2004–05 NHL lockout. A few days after winning the Stanley Cup, Tortorella would go on to win the 2004 Jack Adams Award as coach of the year.

Before the start of the 2005–06 season – the NHL's first post-lockout campaign – Tampa Bay's starting goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin left the team due to the newly implemented salary cap restrictions. Tortorella was hard on Lightning goaltender John Grahame for much of the 2005–06. Grahame subsequently signed with the Carolina Hurricanes before the start of the 2006–07 season. Despite the Lightning winning a 2nd-team best 44 games in 2006–07, the Lightning did not win the Southeast Division.

New York Rangers

Tortorella was named head coach of the New York Rangers on February 23, 2009, replacing Tom Renney, who was fired earlier that day.[4] On March 17, he again became the American-born coach with the most wins in NHL history, this time surpassing Laviolette.

Tortorella was suspended 1 game by the NHL for an altercation with several Capitals fans behind the bench in the third period of Game 5 in the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Replays show the fan clearly heckling Tortorella through verbal jeering, before Tortorella responded by throwing a water bottle at a fan before grabbing a stick from Aaron Voros and trying to spear the fan through a space between 2 panes of glass. He did not receive a penalty on the play despite the fact that NHL rules state any physical altercations with fans result in ejection from a game; however, the next day the NHL suspended him.

When Laviolette became coach of the Philadelphia Flyers in 2009, the rivalry between the two teams became further heated with Tortorella and Laviolette being the American-born coaches with the most wins in NHL history.
United States national men's hockey team

Tortorella was also the assistant coach of the U.S. National Men's hockey team in 2008-2009 replacing Peter Laviolette, which included leading the squad at the 2008 IIHF World Championship, where they finished sixth.

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