John Tortorella has never been one to mince words. On Friday he admitted the Vancouver Canucks were justified in firing him last year.
“That group of players over in Vancouver I really enjoyed. We had a great first half, but I don’t think I did the job for the team the second half with our consistency and I think that’s what cost me my job,” Tortorella told Tampa Bay radio station 620 WDAE Friday.
“We couldn’t stop the losing streaks. We needed to win a couple of games within those areas. Quite honestly, I deserved to be fired after that second half of the year.”
Tortorella was let go last May following a 36-35-11 season and missing the playoffs less than one full year after signing a five-year, $10 million deal the previous June.
The 56-year-old has a reputation for being hard on players and media, however he said he prides himself on his ability to develop relationships with his players and pushing them to be the best they could be.
“That’s what I miss most,” Tortorella explained. “Being in the room, seeing what the personalities are, them coming back at me if they don’t like what they heard from me and that’s how you develop the relationships. I had some strong ones out there in Vancouver…I think there’s a little bit of misperception, but there’s nothing I can do about that. But I tell ya, I miss that part of it terribly. Being in the locker room with that team.”
One of the highlights – or lowlights depending on who you ask – of Tortorella’s lone season with the Canucks was his infamous January confrontation with Bob Hartley and the Calgary Flames that landed him a six-game suspension.
“You’re talking to a guy that went down a hallway after another coach last year, which was just so across the line and so embarrassing to my organization and my team,” Tortorella said. “That was really one of the bad spots of my season when I did that.”
Tortorella, who won a Stanley Cup with the Lightning in 2004 and resides in Tampa Bay in the off-season, added that he’s not perfect and won’t be if he’s ever offered another coaching job.
“I’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way and I’ll make more if I have an opportunity to coach again.”