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Fired Lightning coach Tortorella criticizes new ownership

John Tortorella, speaking frankly for the first time since his June firing, says he is still loyal to the Lightning players who remain from his tenure.

Getty Images (2007)

John Tortorella, speaking frankly for the first time since his June firing, says he is still loyal to the Lightning players who remain from his tenure.

It sounds like John Tortorella will fit right into his new job as a hockey analyst. Hours after Thursday's announcement that the former Lightning coach was hired for a studio gig by Canadian sports giant TSN, Tortorella went on Team 1200 sports radio in Ottawa and weighed in for the first time on new Tampa Bay owners Oren Koules and Len Barrie ("I have zero respect for them"), the team's acquisition of defenseman Andrej Meszaros ("I think it's a hell of a deal for the Ottawa Senators), the Dan Boyle trade and Vinny Lecavalier.

Tortorella, 50, was fired after last season's last-place finish, ending a seven-season run that included four straight playoff appearances, the 2004 Stanley Cup title and being named the 2004 Jack Adams Trophy winner as the league's top coach.

"Again, I don't wish anything bad on the players or anything like that," Tortorella said. "I just have a tough time understanding some of the thinking going on with the club.

"I guess when you invest seven years, you want to still see them do well, but I don't know. I don't know what's going to happen there."

On the many changes to the Lightning:

You got a couple of cowboys in there as owners. You finish 30th in the National Hockey League, I was there for seven years, I know it's coming as a coach, and it probably should come to a coach if you finish 30th. But how it all goes about and how you treat your people and run your business is very important in this league.

I look at the club and how some things have been done and how they treated Danny Boyle and really lying to the kid, and some of the other things that have gone on there, it's a total different team. Do I think the team needed to be blown up for it to get back to competing? No, I don't.

There still are some good players there. But new owners … come in and they … try to reinvent the wheel. I'm anxious to see what happens. I don't wish anything bad on them.

I have a lot of loyalty to the players who are still there and people who work in the office. But as far as the two cowboys that went in there and bought that team, I have zero respect for them.

On the Boyle trade:

I knew that was going to happen … during the trading deadline where myself, (then-general manager) Jay Feaster and all the administration of that team were locked in the room … with owners that were still in the process of trying to buy the team. It turned ugly in there because of some of the thoughts they had, and they still hadn't even dropped a penny on the club.

I sat across from Lennie Barrie, and Lennie Barrie started talking to me about Dan Boyle when he played with him seven, eight years ago in Florida, which makes no sense to me because I think after seven or eight years a guy may mature and improve his game.

I begged them to sign Danny Boyle. If you're going to trade Brad Richards at the deadline, which we shouldn't have done at that point in time, and then let Danny Boyle just go, what do you think Vinny and Marty (St. Louis) are going to think about there (when) the next year starts?

They grudgingly decided to sign him, but I knew once they signed all these forwards during the summer, during the free agency, (Boyle) was going to go.

On acquiring Meszaros for Filip Kuba, Alex Picard and a No. 1 pick:

Meszaros, we all know he's a good player. He's a young player. He's a durable player But is he more than a 35-, 40-point guy? That's my question. I think Filip Kuba is that and then some, though a little older.

But you also have this kid in Picard. … He's going to be a good player, and he has some jam to him also. And who knows where that No. 1 pick falls into play here.

I think it's a hell of a deal for Ottawa.

On Lecavalier:

I think he's at times the best player in the league, and at least in the top three or four, and he has matured incredibly. But I think the key for Vinny was a structured environment.

When they signed Vinny to that contract and they basically … (made) him a partner, I worry, is it going to be enough structure there, and where it's going to go in his game?

He is such a gifted player and has so many years left, I hope he understands how to handle some of those situations and maybe teach along the way here, not just to the players and his teammates but some of the people around him that are running the team.

Damian Cristodero can be reached at cristodero@sptimes.com.

Fired Lightning coach Tortorella criticizes new ownership 09/04/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 10, 2008 8:41am]
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