A John Tortorella post-game press conference with the Philadelphia Flyers on Feb. 16, 2023. A John Tortorella post-game press conference with the Philadelphia Flyers on Feb. 16, 2023. (CJ Fogler on Twitter.)

Over his 2000-present NHL head coaching career (with some interruptions for media work), John Tortorella has had plenty of notable exchanges with the press. Tortorella, now the head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers, delivered another one of those after their 6-2 road loss to the Seattle Kraken Thursday:

The loss to the Kraken exacerbated a bad stretch for the Flyers. This was their third-straight loss, albeit with one in a shootout, and their seventh loss (combining regulation and overtime/shootout losses) in their last nine games. And Tortorella wasn’t happy about that, and that came out in this press conference.

The first question from the main reporter here (Giana Han of The Philadelphia Inquirer) goes, “How do you feel this one compares to your last performance against the Kraken?” (a 4-3 home loss on Sunday) gets just a “You have the answer to that,” and this goes downhill from there. The “Are you giggling?” (to someone straight behind the camera, not Han) is unusual, and then Tortorella goes “You guys, you don’t need me for your stories tonight, do you? You’ve pretty much got your explanation, don’t you?”

Han then goes “No, not really, because we don’t know what you were saying in the room, what the plan was,” and Tortorella responds “Well, I’m not going to tell you. It doesn’t do me any good to tell you what’s going on in the room right now.” Han responds “Why wouldn’t it do us any good?” and Tortorella says “Because the stuff we have to figure out in the room belongs in the room. So you’re going to have to kind of go with it yourself here. It’s pretty self-explanatory what you saw out there, so you really don’t need my comments.”

Han then asks “So what would you tell the fans?” and Tortorella says “I’m not too concerned about the fans right now. I’m concerned about the hockey team.” Another reporter asks “But in terms of a loss like this, I mean, how jarring is it? Coming into tonight, even in your losses, the games had been close.” Tortorella says “No, not the last couple.” (Apparently, the 4-3 loss to the Kraken in the last game and the previous 2-1 shootout loss to the Nashville Predators Saturday weren’t “close” by Tortorella’s standards.)

Han then asks him about the team’s effort, and he says “Giana, I’m not going to give you any information. Don’t you get it? There’s no sense in me giving you any information. I’m not going to talk about my team after a performance like this. It doesn’t do me any good, it doesn’t do the team any good.” He’s then asked about how to avoid this effort and execution snowballing into the rest of the team’s road trip and says “We’ll just keep working at it.” And after that, Tortorella leaves the press conference.

What’s interesting about this press conference is that it’s almost a Lynchian (Marshawn, not David) “I’m just here so I won’t get fined” performance. Tortorella has previously been fined for rapid exits from press conferences, including a $25,000 fine for a 2020 presser where he left after two quick questions. Here, he stuck it out for a number of questions, but just mostly declined to answer them.

And, in some ways, that’s fine in its own right. No coach or player can be compelled to say anything they don’t want to. And while most coaches would probably avoid what they don’t want to discuss in a less confrontational manner (perhaps with some word-salad vamping that doesn’t mean much), there are many who wouldn’t reveal much about the locker room mood or what they said to players around a debacle like this.

The pushback over the “close” question is odd, though, as is the extremely limited comment on what the Flyers will do going forward. And that’s an area where coaches are a bit different from players; dealing with media is a much larger part of a head coach’s job than it is for players, and it’s often much more important for media to be able to get something usable from a coach than from any particular player.

It’s fair for Tortorella to say he won’t discuss particular topics, but the “There’s no sense in me giving you any information” and “I’m not going to talk about my team” comments feel over the top. But he can operate how he wants. And it seems unlikely he’ll pick up another fine for this, given that he did take questions (just without really answering most of them). It just adds to the long saga of Tortorella versus the media.

[CJ Fogler on Twitter]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.