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Bluelines: The Irrepressible Torts Effect

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Whatever you say about John Tortorell – and there were many – this man attracts conversations like a monstrous magnet.

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I consider Torts a good friend ever since he was in Tampa Bay when he turned the Bolts into a Cup winning team.

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At that time he was not as famous as in New York and all over the West, up to Vancouver, and now in the City of Brotherly Love.

At least John survived – some would say “Prosperous” – because he keeps coming back like a song.

Others would describe Tort-ism as one hell of an act. And if so, then he is constantly in demand.

“He copies well,” says my buddy Glenn Dreyfuss, who does great hockey shows for me and talks about Seattle.

The “copy” of Tortorella is so good that John doesn’t need to be around to talk about himself. There always seems to be “someone else” with a dozen stories about the electrified bench boss.

One such defense witness is Andre Roy, who recently appeared on the Squid And The ULF podcast. Roy and Torts were teammates in the 2004 Tampa Bay Cup, which means they sometimes got along and sometimes,

Mount John would break through the winger.

During the 2003 Bolts-Caps playoffs, Roy received what he considered an undeserved rough fine.

Roy: “I go into the box and look at the other side. I see Torts walking behind the bench and looking at me. I cross my fingers, legs, arms. “Please guys, kill the penalty.” But Washington scored.

“So I skate in shame to the bench and Torts is waiting for me. “You blanket-empty selfish…sit your ass over there. ‘”

Then a pause, and Roy’s comment speaks to what makes Torts so appealing to so many of us: “When he loses, there’s nothing you can do. We had a lot of F-bomb matches.”

What we who know John know is that off the rink he is a kind, generous, loyal and wonderful guy in every way.

And, do not believe it a person changed for the better through his behind the bench experience, not to mention behind the camera on ESPN, where he became a beloved and irresistible performer.

“He’s a good coach,” Roy concludes. “Torts is very prepared, watching videos and all that. He’s going to be a good influence in Philadelphia because he’s also a great social guy and a pleasure to hang out with off the ice.”

John’s hockey personality was formed when he played for the University of Maine and discovered his passion. “I have never seen anyone with a will like his,” said his trainer Jack Semler. “Don’t joke with him.”

That intensity was evident in Tampa Bay when my buddy Jay Fister was the general manager of the Bolts. Jay tells a story that says it all about Torts’ character after the playoff loss, but before John had to face the media. Fister said he and his coach were toe to toe. And the dialogue went like this:

“I don’t want you to appear there (in the media) until you get better. Are you okay?” Jay demanded

Torts: “Yes, I’m really fine.”

Fister then said that Torts appeared in front of the cameras and cursed the reporter!

The best Tortorella profile I’ve ever read was written by Craig Wolf at the Newark Star-Ledger during the 2012 Rangers-Davils playoffs. Here are some excerpts.

“Old coaches, friends, family and teammates say ‘postering’ is not his (Torts’) forte. It’s not contrived,” wrote Wolf.

Craig turned to Torts’ father, who said, “John never relaxes.”

Wolf tells the story of how, after Tortorella got his first job at the Lightning, Torts discovered that Vinnie Lecavalier’s name was on the “Parking Choice” spot adjacent to the arena. According to Fister, Torts told the valet, “I’m the coach. This is my spot”.

Of course he understood; and Lecavalier parked elsewhere.

But it was a long time ago. Coaching East and West, not to mention working in front of ESPN cameras all last season, has changed a man for the better. but without removing the inner fire.

I loved him in New York—between the censures—and he’ll be loved in Pennsylvania, especially on Broad Street and the cheesesteak joints he’s already checked out.

The act of Torts reminds me of the legendary comedian, producer and actor Mel Brooks. He goes on and on because – when all is said and done – he still has an awfully good game.

No, remove the last line.

When Mr. Tortorella is in the spotlight this is a great move!


A: A tireless defender will find a home, as the King Clancy Award winner should be there. You must think that he will get an invitation to training camp. Otherwise, as New Jersey clairvoyant George Falkowski predicts, “P.K. destined for a long and successful career in the media.


New sextet The Flames from the AHL dubbed Calgary Wranglers. How appropriate. A Wrangler is a person in charge of horses or livestock on a ranch. I say perfect for the Stampede house – but not Johnny Gaudreau!


*Just wondering what percentage of hockey fans are there Indeed care about how much money their favorite player makes per season.

* I’m guessing it’s no more than 25 percent and probably a lot less. * Admit it, numbers – terms – are frankly boring.

* Before last season, THN’s Ryan Kennedy selected the top five players in the NHL in this order: 1. Connor McDavid; 2. Nathan McKinnon; 3. Nikita Kucherov; 4. Auston Matthews and 5. Cale Makar.

*In my opinion, the list is current almost a year later. But Adam Fox from sixth place should be lowered to 12th.

* Unfortunately, Carey Price has been delisted for next season.

* Kadri’s Watch has gone from disturbing to melodramatic.

* In a week or so, he will climb the emotional ladder again to breathtaking.


Hurray for Tom FITZGERALD. The Devils general manager did a great job during the offseason. I especially like the fact that he picked up an experienced scorer with cup experience in the Chamber and restructured the defence. His moves to help coach Lindy Ruff look very good.


They call me Hockey Expert, but there are about three tons I don’t know about our favorite game.

So that means that there are people who can help me with mental potholes.

One such miracle man is Tim Beaver of St. Louis, where I once revered Stan (The Man) Musial and his 1942 World Series champion Cardinals.

For lack of a better word, I call Beaver a collector-archivist-historian. If I need to learn something – or find a magazine, or whatever – and no one else can help me, chances are Tim will help.

“I have always been a collector of something in my life,” Tim told me, “and 15 years ago I decided to focus on hockey. Just 12 years ago I started my real archiving.

“What really inspired me was the archival project for The Hockey News. I contacted Paul Patskow, who was helping, and loaned several hundred issues to be scanned for the THN project.

“At that time, I had all these other magazines, programs and manuals. I thought, “Why not scan them too?” My goal was to create the largest digital archive of hockey publications.”

What Beaver achieved was not without outside help. Archivist historians such as the great Paul Patskow and Ultimate Maple Leafs fan Mike Wilson, along with my longtime Hockey News editor Jason Kay and another friend of mine, Len Gould, have been instrumental.

When I asked Tim to describe how a collection works, his response was both simple and complex. I’ll let you decide.

Beaver: “The collection is a pdf version of all major hockey publications. They include such popular publications as Blueline, Hockey Illustrated, Hockey Pictorial, Hockey World, Hockey Scene and so on.

“It includes over 3,000 game programs, all NHL team media guides from 1968-69 through current guides, minor and minor leagues. Everything that I could get related to hockey, I digitized. When I need a specific magazine, guidebook, program, press release or something like that, I just connect to my external hard drive and the publication is available to me in a couple of clicks.”

The beauty of Beaver and his activities is that he is far from selfish. He shares his collection with former players, friends and families of players; not to mention the authors and researchers.

“My goal,” concludes Beaver, “is to make this material available to other hockey nerds so they can easily get information.”

To be honest, I only have five words for the amazing Tim Beaver: I cannot thank you enough!

WHO SAID THIS? “Everyone has to believe in something; I think I’ll have another drink.” (ANSWER BELOW.)

Editor’s note: From time to time I will recall historical moments in the history of hockey. The first edition follows:


(Part 1 of 3)

Modern hockey fans have heard of Lester Patrick through the trophy awarded annually for services to hockey in the United States.

Serious historians know Lester for his playing days in the Hall of Fame, as well as his leadership of the Rangers from the club’s founding in 1926 until his departure from the New York scene after World War II.

In particular, he coached the Stanley Cup winners in New York in 1928 and 1933, and in 1940 coached Frank Boucher.

While Lester’s exploits—he was forced to score in the 1928 final and beat the Maroons when his goaltender Lorne Chabot was badly injured—were legendary, there was another Patrick who did some great hockey stuff.

Unfortunately, Lester’s younger brother has become a forgotten hero, though his accomplishments can match and sometimes surpass those of his siblings.

“Frank Patrick will build a brand new hockey empire on the West Coast,” wrote author Eric Whitehead in The Patricks Are Hockey Royals. “He will change the face of the game with his particular genius of innovation. And he will play an important role in the formation of the modern NHL.”

What follows is not an attempt to belittle Leste’s excellent work…


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