Tortorella responds to benching controversy
New York Rangers head coach John Tortorella, before facing potential elimination Thursday night, decided to make struggling center Brad Richards a healthy scratch. He received quite a bit of backlash from the media for the benching of his multi-million-dollar alternate captain.
After beating the Boston Bruins 4-3 in overtime for the team’s first victory in the series, Tortorella addressed the topic — perhaps a tad rashly — in a postgame press conference.
“Don’t put words in my mouth, it’s not blaming Brad Richards, I’ve heard enough of that crap already as far as this is concerned,” Tortorella said. “He’s a hell of a hockey player that’s having a hell of a time, so I need to make decisions for what I feel is right for the team to win tonight’s game.”
Tortorella said that the gesture did not suggest anything negative about his relationship with Richards.
“This is a Conn Smythe winner, a guy I’ve grown up with, a guy that I love as a person and a player,” he said. “But I have to make that decision regarding this. So kiss my ass if you want to write something different.”
Of course, it isn’t the first time the coach has had a profane presser. Tortorella is certainly known for being a bit colorful in his postgame comments.
Tortorella didn’t say much as to whether Richards would play in Game 5, but he did say he was relieved that his team still had life.
“I’m happy for them,” he said. “They’re still breathing.”