John Tortorella bigraphy, stories - American ice hockey player

John Tortorella : biography

June 24, 1958 -

John Robert Tortorella (born June 24, 1958) is an American ice hockey coach currently with the Vancouver Canucks of the National Hockey League (NHL). Tortorella has also been the head coach of the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning. He led Tampa Bay to the 2004 Stanley Cup championship. Tortorella became head coach of the Lightning on January 6, 2001. He stayed on until the end of the '08 season. He decided not to finish the last year of his contract, having compiled a 239–222–36–38 record while with the Lightning.

Tortorella has been credited by East Coast Hockey League founders Henry Brabham and Bill Coffey with coming up with the name for the league during a league meeting at a Ramada Inn in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. At the time, Tortorella was the head coach of Brabham's Virginia Lancers, but left the Lancers to become the assistant coach of the American Hockey League's New Haven Nighthawks before the ECHL's inaugural season in 1988. He got fired from the New York Rangers after the 2012-2013 season.

Early life

Tortorella attended Concord-Carlisle High School in Concord, Massachusetts, and he is listed on the school's athletic Hall of Fame wall (1976). He also attended the University of Maine, graduating in 1981. John's brother Jim Tortorella is also listed on the wall.

Tortorella, nicknamed 'The Paper Italian', played right wing for three years (1978–81) at the University of Maine of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). While at Maine, he played along with his brother Jim, the goaltender, who now serves as assistant men's coach for the University of New Hampshire Wildcats. After college Tortorella went to Sweden to play a year in Kristianstads IK (1981-82), after which he came back to the US to play four years of minor pro hockey (1982–86) in the Atlantic Coast Hockey League (ACHL). During these years he skated with the Hampton Roads Gulls, Erie Golden Blades, Nashville South Stars and the Virginia Lancers.

During his days in the ACHL, Tortorella briefly played with Oren Koules while with the Hampton Roads Gulls. The two later reunited in Tampa Bay, as Tortorella was the coach and Koules was one of the new owners of the Lightning. He never played a game in the NHL.

Coaching career

Tortorella's coaching career began with the American Hockey League (AHL)'s Rochester Americans and the ECHL's Virginia Lancers. He was also an assistant coach for the AHL's New Haven Nighthawks and Rochester Americans, and the NHL's Buffalo Sabres, Phoenix Coyotes and New York Rangers. He won the Calder Cup with the 1996 Rochester Americans.

Tortorella is known for his outspoken nature—which has included criticizing his own players—and for his unusual system of regularly rotating goaltending duties during his time in Tampa Bay; a system which was discontinued when he became head coach of the New York Rangers and could use Henrik Lundqvist as the regular starting goalie.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Tortorella took over the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2000–01 as a mid-season replacement. The team won only 28% (12 of 43) of its games to end the season, finishing last in the division. The following season, the team finished third in the division but had a losing record and did not qualify for the playoffs. The 2002–03 season marked Tortorella's first winning season as an NHL head coach, as the Lightning won the Southeast Division, losing to the New Jersey Devils four games to one in the second round of the 2003 playoffs. At the end of the season he was also recognized as a finalist for the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year, losing out to Minnesota's Jacques Lemaire.

In 2003–04, Tortorella's fourth season with the team, the Lightning won their second consecutive Southeastern Division title. The Lightning were the top seed in the Eastern Conference and proceeded to defeat the New York Islanders, the Montreal Canadiens, and the Philadelphia Flyers to win the Prince of Wales Trophy and the Eastern Conference Championship. In the Stanley Cup Finals, they defeated the Western Conference champion Calgary Flames four games to three, winning the first Stanley Cup in franchise history. In doing so Tortorella became just the third American-born coach to win it and the first in 13 years. The team was in its eleventh year of existence. It was the last Stanley Cup won before the 2004–05 NHL lockout. A few days after winning the Stanley Cup, Tortorella would go on to win the 2004 Jack Adams Award as coach of the year.

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Living octopus

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