Is John Tortorella getting the cold shoulder?
Could former Lightning coach John Tortorella be following in Ted Nolan's footsteps? No, I don't mean as the next coach of the Islanders (although, if I were the Islanders, that would be a great idea). I mean as a good coach who might be getting a cold shoulder from NHL teams.
Nolan was coach of the year with Buffalo in 1996-97, but his contract was not renewed. He did receive an offer from Phil Esposito to coach the Lightning when Terry Crisp was fired in 1997 but turned it down. Other than that, he did not receive another NHL head coaching offer from the time Buffalo let him go for nearly 10 years. Some thought it was because he had the reputation of being a "GM killer,'' while others wondered if it was racism because Nolan is a member Ojibwa Indian tribe. Finally, the Islanders hired him in 2006, but even though he went 74-68-21 over two seasons, he was fired Monday, and now we'll see how long it will take him to get another job, if ever.
So now about Tortorella. Despite a great run with the Lightning that included four playoff appearances, a Stanley Cup and a coach of the year award in six full seasons, Tortorella, as far as I can tell, didn't even come close to landing one of the six jobs (not counting the Islanders) that were open this summer.
Atlanta, Florida and San Jose hired coaches with no NHL head coaching experience. Ottawa dug up Craig Hartsburg, who has never won a playoff series as a head coach. Colorado went with Tony Granato, a guy the Avs once fired as head coach. Toronto brought in retread Ron Wilson, who has coached 14 NHL seasons with three teams and either missed the playoffs or failed to get past the second round in 12 of those seasons.
The last straw is Los Angeles. The Kings hired Terry Murray on Thursday. Terry Murray!? Nice guy, but this will be Murray's fourth NHL job, and his biggest claim to fame was taking a Flyers team to the finals, getting swept and then getting fired immediately.
You're telling me that Tortorella isn't better than any of those guys? That he wasn't even seriously considered? It just sounds fishy. Tortorella is known for his brusque personality, but his reputation might be worse than reality. Most of his players like playing for him, and he never had any public -- or as far as we know, private -- problems with GM Jay Feaster. So what gives?