Thursday, August 20, 2009

John Tortorella Discusses Prospal, Gomez & More

A John Tortorella article was in yesterday's NY Times as he was interviewed during the U.S. Olympic team's practice at the U.S. orientation camp.

Discussing the hiring of Mark Messier as a special assistant to Glen Sather:
"Him and Glen have gone to war together. Those two guys, they’re tight. That’s what’s great about Glen. He’s a guy who gives people opportunities to grow.”
Talking about Vinny Prospal:
“I know him really well,” Tortorella said of Prospal, whom the Rangers signed on Monday. “We’ve had some battles along the way.”

“He still has talent,” Tortorella said Tuesday of the 34-year-old Prospal. “I think he has something to prove. And Vinny Prospal is a pretty damn good player when he has something to prove. He’s a pain sometimes, which doesn’t matter. It’s a good intensity that he has. I think he can help us. He has some offensive skill. It’s a good signing. It’s a one-year deal, not a bunch of money, and this guy has something to prove. I think he’s a pretty good player when he has that kind of attitude. He’ll help us on the power play.”

Tortorella continued, and there was still a bit of a provocation at Prospal somewhere in there: “Vinny and I had a long conversation prior to our even talking about this … I know, I’ve coached him for so many years — my question was, Does he want to play? Is life too good? Because he’s made a lot of money. He’s been successful. He’s a good person. But I just wanted to make sure that he wanted to play. He’s ticked off. He was bought out. He has something to prove here. I think it’s a good situation on a one-year deal, and show us maybe for when another contract comes around. Some other people in the organization need to understand that too.”
Talking about Marian Gaborik, one of the higher end UFAs that was on the market this summer, who the Rangers signed:
“He’s a dynamic player. If we can keep him healthy — and he’s healthy now — we want to let him play. I know he’s gonna show me that he can play away from the puck and be competitive there. But we’re looking at the other end, and we want him to be that spontaneous, dynamic player. I just don’t think you win consistently in this league unless you have that kind of dynamic player. I am not going to overcoach him. I just want him to be instinctive. If shows me a two-way street the other way, as far as competing away from the puck, he can do his thing.”
Talking about having control of the team before the start of the season:

“The real part of it is when you can have your own camp,” he said. “That’s where we can establish what our mindset is going to be, conditioning, which I think is a weakness of our club. As I’ve said, and I make no bones about it, I don’t think we’re a stiff team mentally. I think we have to be a little bit tougher in that area, in mental parts and preparation.”

And how will it work with the Rangers now that Torts will have control from Game 1?

“It’s a process, it’s accountability, it’s merit,” he said, then outlined a program of eternal Darwinian struggle. “No one’s locked into any positions — people are going to earn their time, they’re always going to have to earn their time. Even if they get some, if they don’t keep on going they may get moved around a little bit. I think that makes it into more of a hard-type situation. This is a hard game. I just think we’re soft mentally, and I think we have to grow in that area.”

Tortorella talking about Matt Gilroy who has a legitimate shot at being a rookie this season on the Rangers' blue line:
He’s a skill player. He needs some work as far as understanding the defensive part of the game in his own end zone. But the thing that I love about him is he’s trying to get up the ice all the time. He’s got a fair whack at it this year. There are a couple of wide-open spots on D, and it’s important that we develop some young defenecmen.
And finally, when asked about former Ranger Scott Gomez:

“A lot of people think that Scotty and I are at odds. We have never been at odds. With us moving Scotty, I don’t think he played that well — I think Scott Gomez is honest about that too, I don’t think he thought he played that well — and we had an opportunity to get out of a contract there that was jamming us a little bit with the cap. I thought that Glen did a terrific job in taking care of that part of it. But I don’t begrudge Scotty anything as a hockey player, and he’s a good guy. Some of the onus belongs on our organization: we didn’t have a whole bunch of wingers that could help him. He’s playing in a pretty good city, too. So I wish him the best of luck.”

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