Torts (rightfully) defends Richards in post game presser

After the Rangers overtime win last night, coach John Tortorella held his usual post-game press conference. This one was a lot different than his previous press conferences, as the coach was very candid and very passionate about his defense of Brad Richards. You can watch the video above for the full interview, but the Richards excerpt is below:

“I think it’s important to spend a couple of minutes on that out of respect to Brad. By no means is this a situation where I take him out where I’m blaming him. I’m playing Brad on the fourth line, he’s playing seven or eight minutes, it’s not good for him, it doesn’t work playing Brad Richards that way. I also feel some other guys have played better so that’s where he is right now in our lineup. It just doesn’t work, I’m not playing him the proper way but I can’t put him on the other lines becausre I think the other lines have stepped up. I look at the fourth line, I’m looking to get some kind of life, some sort of identity on that fourth line and that’s where Brad comes out. You get some fresh legs some enthusiasm.

“I’m sure people will pick it apart. I want to make sure you know, Brad Richards is a hell of a hockey player. He’s had struggles here. It continues, me putting him in that role does not help him. So I’d rather have him out and identify how we’re going to run our fourth line. So don’t put words in my mouth, it’s not blamng Brad Richards, I’ve already heard enough of that crap already as far as this is concerned. He’s a hell of a hockey player that’s having a hell of a time so I need to make decision for what I feel is right for this team to win tonight’s game. This is a Conn Smythe winner, a guy I’ve grown up with, a guy as a love as a person and a player but I have to make that decision regarding this so kiss my [backside] if you want to write something different, it’s not about blaming that guy. I don’t want anbybody to pile on him. This is my decision and I make it for the hockey club.”

Torts and Richards have a great history together, and Richards passed up more money to come to New York and play under John Tortorella. When it comes to winning, Torts will do anything to win, and we now know that includes benching his alternate captain. It came with the territory when Richards signed here, and now he’s experiencing it.

Torts’ logic in benching Richards was that he was being mis-used because of his struggles, and that part is absolutely true. He was getting dominated by the Bruins’ fourth line because Richards is not the type of player to be on the fourth line. When the top-nine were outperforming him, it was only a matter of time before he was in the press box. The utter dominance of the Bs fourth line exascerbated the situation.

No matter what comes of this –expect him to continue sitting– it should be noted that this was purely a hockey move. Torts did what he needed to do, and he deserves credit for making a tough decision. What happens in the future with Richards (note: likely to be bought out) will also be hockey moves.

17 Responses to “Torts (rightfully) defends Richards in post game presser”

  1. becky says:

    Say what you will about Torts, his presser last night was perfection. He completely covered the game and allowed a thorough explanation for his justified benching of Richie. Whoever thinks he’s lost the locker room is probably watching a different team than I am.

  2. wwpd says:

    curious Kevin if you still think Richards contract buys him another year in blue? putting aside one game he is benched, and I don’t have the numbers in front of me but I think it was 24mil over time this year vs 18 mil the next, do you think the organization would rather pay him the extra year to maybe play and maybe not, but eat the cap space, vs pay him to definitely not play and free some cap?

  3. TxRangerLovesSideBoob says:

    i think brad is owed another chance because what he did for us last season, what he’s done in his career, and because of his relationship with torts.

    if he does well, then that’d be great. if he struggles, he’s obviously bought out.

    • Pete says:

      Its a really tough call. If he gets injured they risk not being able to buy him out and it becoming a cap nightmare. Again, tough call because he really is a good guy who truly cares and wants to contribute badly. What an addition he would be if he was still on his game, sad.

      • TxRangerLovesSideBoob says:

        While I doubt he gets the Wade Redden treatment where they shut him down until buyout, that is a really good point you make. I wouldn’t be surprised if they buy him out during this off-season, it would be very off-putting and would hurt the organizations reputation.

        I honestly think the Rangers should no longer go after big name free agents, it’s a recipe for total and utter brutal finish to otherwise good careers.

        • Walt says:

          Under the new agreement, the Rangers can’t do to Richards what they did to Redden. If he is sent down to Hartford, he is still carried as a cap hit. I believe that was written in to punish teams like the Rangers, Leafs, Philly, teams with deep pockets.

  4. Rangers Fan in Boston says:

    Good Tortorella read, a perspective differing from most main stream media:

    http://www.thehockeynews.com/articles/52025-The-evolution-of-John-Tortorella.html

    • Dave says:

      ” Of course, in Tampa his motto was “Safe is Death” and now he coaches one of the most defensively stultifying, least aggressively offensive teams in the league.”

      I stopped reading right there. This is my problem with THN, they don’t do any actual research. If you ask anyone who actually knows the game and watches the Rangers, you know they are an aggressive team.

      • The Suit says:

        When will people learn hockey systems are divided into three zones of play and how you defend the slot is not an indicator of your entire team’s mentality?

      • Rangers Fan in Boston says:

        You’re right about that, but I found the intent of the story was more about Tortorella the man/coach rather than a discussion of his actual system.

  5. JimBob says:

    Open Letter to Shanahan and the NHL:

    It is time to finally eliminate head injuries from the game. Simply and CONSISTENTLY match a headshot penalty offender with a league imposed penalty that lasts as long as the injured player is out. For example the guy that hit Ryane Clowe and was assessed a penalty in the game should be not playting again until Clowe hits the ice in a game. Players will stop headhunting immediately

    • Walt says:

      I have said that to my friends in the past as well, your spot on. Just think, guys like Cooke, who ended Savard’s career, playing on a potential cup team this year, while Savard may still have some health issues. The players themselves should make a major push in that direction.