Ex-Rangers coach John Tortorella to join ESPN; will we get another Sean Avery type rant?

A new report indicates ESPN is set to hire the fiery John Tortorella as a studio analyst for next season’s coverage. The 63 year-old bench boss is not one to mince words, and will undoubtedly be some must-see TV for hockey fans.

John Tortorella’s epic rant on Sean Avery

Make no mistake about it, John Tortorella would rather be behind the bench. That was the case in 2008, after he was let go by the Lightning when he was an analyst for TSN.

john tortorella ESPN
John Tortorella GM? (NHLI/Getty Images)

“I wasn’t sure how it was going to be, but the people at TSN have been fantastic,” Tortorella told NHL.com back in 2008. “I’m having fun with it, but eventually if I get an opportunity – and there are a lot of good coaches out there, so I hope I do get an opportunity – I’d want to get right back in it.”

Torts’ most memorable rant was on Rangers agitator Sean Avery. “He’s a selfish [expletive] that’s what he is,” he said on TSN. “It’s gotten so bad here, he’s embarrassed himself, the organization. More importantly he’s embarrassed his teammates who have to kind of look out for him here now. But it’s the NHL, he’s embarrassed the whole league. Send him home.”

By the way, when Tortorella left TV to coach again, where did he land? You guessed it, the New York Rangers and Sean Avery.

Oddly enough, Avery bolted for free agency to the Dallas Stars but then was reacquired and played under Torts for a few seasons. A love/hate relationship for sure, at least for Torts.

No love lost from Avery

Sean Avery has gone on record and even wrote in his book how much he not only dislikes but doesn’t respect his former coach.

“Anyone that covered the Rangers, for the most part I haven’t heard anyone say they like him,” Avery said of his old boss. “That was the mentality he carried with us. I played for Scotty Bowman, who the last thing on his mind was to police a room.”

Avery also did not like the way John Tortorella handled the Derek Boogaard situation. “I lost faith in the system and he was front and center for it,” he concluded.

Torts wants back in the game

Obviously, with all the key head coaching jobs gone Torts is just biding his time. The first in-season coach firing could see the 63 year-old leave ESPN.

Torts is 12th all-time on the NHL’s win list. His best record for a team came when he coached the Rangers from 2008 to 2012. He amassed a record of 171-118-1-29 for a .583 winning percentage. There’s was very little buzz around his name this offseason. His agent, Neil Glasberg revealed to me that Tortorella may be interested in a management position.

Pierre LeBrun also noted that Torts is still very interested in coaching but no one has picked up the phone to call him. “As far as I can tell from checking with a few sources, the phone hasn’t rung yet,” he explains. “Some teams I know worry about his tough-love approach at times (Patrik Laine, Pierre-Luc Dubois), but he’s also the same coach who led the Jackets to series wins over Tampa Bay and Toronto the last two years.”

That fear will go right out the window if a contender struggles out of the gate. Then their inhibitions will turn into ambition to bring Tortorella in to fix a mess.

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