(do you like the Roman numerals?)
More John Tortorella:
“I wasn’t crazy about the room (earlier in the season). And still I think the room has work to do, and that isn’t an indictment on Chris Drury or Ryan Callahan or our leadership group. It’s the room itself. I think some people need to be weeded out of there. Certainly not our core people. It’s the other people around them. I’ve said it before, for you to win, that room needs to sustain itself. I think it took a big step with the addition of (Shelley and Prust) to help out, but I don’t think the room’s a strong room. And I still don’t. I think it improved but I still think we have some work to do there.”
“You talk about character (said he talked to former teammates of Shelley who knew he was a good character guy). We don’t have enough (of those). That has certainly shown what our lockerroom has begun to become with the addition of him and Pruster and even Eriksson … he’s been brought up with some good guys like Stevie Yzerman and Lidstrom.
“Now, I’m not saying it’s anybody’s fault. It just is what it is right now.”
He said the key is to keep the young core guys, and add guys with character.
“When you bring other people in, I think some other people will get knocked out of the bus. And I think we need to get some people out of the bus.”
Said he thinks Drury “has grown this year.” And reiterated that when you have leadership and character, “some guys get bumped out, and we need some guys to be bumped out.”
Said he loves Dubinsky’s “arrogance as a player” and Del Zotto’s, the way they carry themselves, and that good players need some of that. But wants Dubinsky to not get too high and drop off after a good game or group of games (and he sees him as a left winger more than a center). And wants Del Zotto to understand that he’s not going to be great simply by being offensive.
“But he has to be careful as he comes in, that he has a long way to go as far as being a pro, about being a National Hockey Leaguer. It’s been really good development for him. I hope we didn’t hurt him in the second half. It’s something that concerns me. … We did cut down his minutes. I just want his head on straight. I don’t want him to go down the wrong road, and I’ve seen a lot of players come in at such a young age, have a little success, and veer off and go down the wrong way, and it’s tough to recoup. I think he’s a smart kid, a great kid. He’s got jam. We just want to make sure he stays on the right path.”
Asked about Gilroy, he hesitated, then said some nice things about his rookie year. “He has to learn that some of the things you get away with in college you’re not going to get away with in the National Hockey League. It’s been a bit of a bumpy ride for him to understand that and accept that. I think he’s gotten into the accepting mode of it. Now he has to do it. And certainly as he progresses he can become part of the core. He can skate. That’s his biggest strength, and once he starts feeling more comfortable within his game, I think he’ll start seeing the ice better and add more offense.”
Said he and some in the organization have already looked at possibilities for backup goalies, which kind of means free agent Alex Auld might not be coming back. Also said he wants Lundqvist to play 60-65 games, a plan that blew up this season. (Lundqvist noted, too, that the goalies who play in June are usually not guys who play 70 games during the season … but that he’d like to play every game, as unreasonable as that might be).
“Out of all the teams I’ve coached, (this) is the one team that you just never knew how they were going to react in certain situations.”
He pointed to the good win over Philly, followed by the losses to St. Louis and Montreal late in the year “where we just stunk.”
“And that’s my responsibility. I am not shunning from the responsibility of consistency again. But it can’t fall off that far. That’s what frustrated me, where it fell off so quickly and so hard in certain situations. And I have to look at myself in that area. But I think the players also have to take some responsibility in that area. I think it comes down to the questions that we talked about in our lockerroom: What type of people? I think we have some really good ones and I have some question marks on some others. And once you get more and more of what you feel are character people, I think you’ll get a more consistent read on what the team is about and maybe develop an identity, which we haven’t done. Again, that’s my responsibility, and we haven’t gotten there yet.”
Defended the Gaborik/shootout decision. Said the coaching staff planned the Christensen-Parenteau-Jokinen lineup for the shootout based on past performances, and that Gaborik was 2 of 18, and still slotted to go fourth.
“I’m a big believer that your top guy has to be part of everything with the team. Would I have loved to have Gabby lead off? Yeah. I’ve tried that. … I also have to make a conscious decision what’s best for the hockey club, too. And there’s no way I’d change that. I’d do it again if I had to do it tomorrow. I wouldn’t change it.”
MORE TO FOLLOW …