Ask most Canucks fans what the most embarrassing moment of John Tortorella’s brief tenure as Canucks’ coach has been and one incident is bound to spring to mind: the hot-tempered coach’s Oldboy moment, when he attempted to punch his way through a hallway of foes to exact vengeance against Calgary Flames coach Bob Hartley.
But not if you ask me. For my money, the most embarrassing moment came Tuesday,
On the eve of the Canucks’ first game of the post-Olympic stretch, Tortorella attempted to clear up a minor firestorm he engendered last weekend, apologizing for his (apparently unconscionable) position on the Olympic gold medal hockey game.
It was embarrassing. Far more embarrassing than a coach going Wolverine Berserker on his counterpart, in my opinion.
The remarks came Saturday during Canucks’ practice, when the media asked Tortorella who he was favouring: Canada or Sweden?
“I hope Sweden wins,” Tortorella said, “because I don’t think [Hamhuis] is going to play judging from what’s happened, and I don’t think [Luongo] is going to play. So I don’t give a **** right now because they’re not playing. I just want them back here. I hope Danny scores two goals and Edler gets three assists and Sweden wins so they come back feeling good about themselves because it’s going to help us. That’s all I’m concerned about right now.”
Wow. Such opinion. Very controversy.
Suffice it to say, this did nothing for me. But I was truly offended on Tuesday when Tortorella offered an apology. From the Vancouver Sun:
“If I have insulted anybody that certainly wasn’t my intention and I think all of you know that,” Tortorella said today. “But I did. It was a careless use of words and I should be more cognizant. I want to clear that up. It’s my privilege to be here and I think I did insult people. That’s the furthest thing from my mind. It’s a great country and … It was a careless use of words. That’s on me, I hope I can clear it up today.”
Tortorella reiterated that he feels privileged to coach in Canada.
“As I said when I was hired here, it is an absolute privilege to coach in Canada and I still feel that,” he said. “I love everything about it. I love the pressure, I love the scrutiny, all the second-guessing, all the stuff that comes with it. I couldn’t be happier.”
John Tortorella, I speak on behalf of all reasonable Canadians when I say that I do not accept your apology. At all. I don’t accept it. I don’t want it. Nothing you said merits one.
Why in the hell would Tortorella be cheering for Canada? As he explained, he’s not coaching Canada, he’s coaching the Canucks. So his primary concern is that his players return healthy and, ideally, energized. Considering both Alex Edler and Daniel Sedin went to Sweden uncharacteristically unsure of themselves, with Daniel enduring one of the worst months of his career, and Edler still looking to regain the form he lost with his early-season suspension, it’s pretty understandable that Tortorella would like to see those two take their team on their backs, then come back emboldened by the reminder that they can do that, and do it again with their usual team down the stretch.
Furthermore, even without the professional motivation, why would Tortorella be cheering for Canada? He’s an American.
And not just some guy with a flag on his porch, either. Tortorella’s worked closely with USA Hockey over the years, and was disappointed not to be asked to work with them again this Olympics. He probably wasn’t all that happy when Canada eliminated the USA in the semifinal. He probably hates when that happens.
If I were an American hockey fan, I would loathe Canada come tournament time. Absolutely despise them. That’s how fandom works, and when you mix it with national pride, it’s even stronger.
And yet, here’s Tortorella, with two perfectly valid reasons to hope that Team Canada fails in the extreme, and he says so, perfectly explaining one of those reasons… and three days later, he feels compelled to apologize.
At the risk of sounding too Canadian to function: no, John, we’re sorry. Sorry you felt like you had to do that. Sorry you felt like your perfectly reasonable allegiances were offensive to us. Sorry we couldn’t see beyond our own allegiances to understand that, occasionally, other people don’t share them. Sorry we’re a bunch of touchy idiots.
Tortorella’s transition into the fallen hero from Oldboy is complete. A few weeks after fighting his way through a hallway, he was forced to cut out his tongue.Tags: John Tortorella