TORONTO — John Tortorella is fine taking his medicine from the press and the fans. That’s part of his job.
But Team USA’s head coach takes exception to some of the harsh criticism and sly comments made by former Team USA players in the wake of the nation’s swift elimination from the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.
“I just don’t understand players that have been in this situation, players that have played for USA Hockey, not only Phil [Kessel] but some of the other guys speaking out,” Tortorella said Thursday in advance of his club’s final game against the Czech Republic.
“To me, it’s a little self-serving, and quite honestly, it doesn’t make USA Hockey look any better either. It’s self-serving, and I think the people that are doing it, it really doesn’t help them either.”
Kessel, who won a silver medal with Team USA in 2010 and led the country in goals at the 2014 Winter Games, was not selected to the current squad.
“I wish Phil just…. Listen, you guys [reporters] have been grinding us about Phil. Phil looks just fine as far as the way you’ve talked about us not picking him. I just wish he didn’t say anything, because it makes him look bad. I don’t want him to look bad,” said Tortorella, noting that he likes Kessel.
Bobby Ryan also made a jokey remark on Twitter about his own absence, and former U.S. stars Brett Hull, Mike Modano and Jeremy Roenick each took a turn at expressing their disappointment in the team’s results.
“And the other guys? It’s so easy. It’s so easy to start chucking dirt on us when things are going bad. But when they’ve been playing in the program, for the whole USA Hockey, it just does not look good,” Tortorella said. “And we have some work to do to get some respect back. That stuff doesn’t help.”