On the night of Saturday, November 30th, former Rangers coach (and I guess, current Canucks coach) John Tortorella entered the pizza place I work at part-time for dinner. He was accompanied by two of his acquaintances, neither of whom I recognized. But I didn't think much of the two companions. I was focused on Torts, looking all spiffy in his formal grey sweater with a small Rangers Statue of Liberty logo on the front.
Tortorella said hello to my boss, Bob, and they shared a friendly laugh. I had no idea they were such good friends! Finally Torts placed his order: a slice of Sicilian pizza and an order of fries. He took his seat. I became giddy. I couldn't wait for his food to be ready so I could bring it out and meet him. After what seemed like an hour, his food was finally ready.
When I finally brought his food out, he glared at me. Sternly, he remarked, "This food better be good if I have to wait this long for it." I stood there, frozen. Finally, I summoned the courage required in order to confidently respond, "Of course it's good." Sensing my apprehension, Torts began to laugh, and remarked, "I'm just messing with you kid. I know it's good. I've been craving this for a long time."
All of a sudden, I found myself talking hockey with one of the greatest American-born NHL coaches of all time. When I told him I was a Ranger fan, he began to reflect on his days with New York. He loved being with the Rangers, but seemed to understand why his time there had to come to an end. He also seemed to get a kick out of how the Rangers and Canucks ended up trading coaches.
Then Tortorella sighed. He clearly wanted the win in his return to MSG earlier in the day. But he did offer one statement of praise about the Rangers, and it was regarding Rangers backup goalie Cam Talbot. Torts stated, "You know what, I'm proud of that kid. I remember when he once told me that, after he turned 23, all he could see was snowflakes. And look at him now."
I didn't know what the "snowflake" part meant. And I may never know, as my boss Bob called me back to the counter before I could ask Tortorella for an explanation. But before I could walk away, Torts left me with one last remark: "I'll tell you what kid. The one thing about coaching in New York: everyone seemed to base my job performance on whether or not Petr Sýkora was on a point streak at the time."
Now I was truly perplexed. I knew for a fact that Sýkora left the Rangers before Tortorella began coaching here. That's when I realized the sad truth: this was all just a dream. Disappointed, I forced myself to wake up.
So why am I telling you all this? Why am I sharing a dream from Saturday night that I remember so vividly? Is it just to entertain you guys with my beautiful mind? Well, I guess the answer could be yes. But the main reason I shared this is because the dream made me realize how little some of us (including me at times) appreciate what Tortorella did for us. It also made me realize that some of us were a little harsh on Torts on the Game Thread from the game against the Canucks. Yes, some of the jokes were funny. Yes, narratives are fun. And some of the narratives seem fitting (I found myself cheering for Kreider extra hard as well). But a few Banterers went too far. The hyperbole and nasty words were not warranted. You can take it from me: despite the bad rap Torts got for the way he handled his press conferences, he is truly a nice guy, something I got to witness firsthand.