John Tortorella thinks the NHL is too friendly.
“The game’s changed and for some dinosaurs that are in it, it’s very frustrating, I have to admit,” said Tortorella ahead of his team’s 7-4 win over the St. Louis Blues. “And I’m not joking about it, it’s really frustrating to me.”
There’s no real way to measure the level of friendliness amongst players in the NHL these days, but whenever a team releases one if its “mic’d up” videos, chances are you’ll find some friendly banter between adversaries. One recent example of what Tortorella is rallying against could be found in this video of San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane chumming it up with old teammates a couple days ago.
“Conversations on the ice amongst opponents on a faceoff, it’s like a big hugfest sometimes,” said Tortorella. “I don’t know if they have so many meetings with this NHLPA and all that stuff that goes on but there’s no hate and I miss that.
“Frustrates the s–t out of me, quite honestly.”
There were 0.6 fights per game in the 2008-09 season according to hockeyfights.com, and that number dwindled to a new low of 0.22 last season. Tortorella, who while coaching the Vancouver Canucks was suspended 15 games for storming the Calgary Flames locker room after a line brawl, is no stranger to the angrier side of hockey.
But Tortorella doesn’t necessarily want to see his players dropping the gloves more often. He just wishes they’d act like they weren’t such good friends with the guy lining up across from them.
“I think there’s been some great changes to our game but damn I miss the old-school ‘I’m comin’ at ya, and we’ll have a beer after, but do we have to talk about it on the ice right now?’
“That’s sickening to me, quite honestly.”