USA Hockey Head Coach John Tortorella spoke to the assembled media after a hugely disappointing World Cup of Hockey tournament ended with a third straight defeat, this time with a 4-3 defeat to the Czech Republic.
What did you think of your team’s effort in a game that didn’t have any meaning in the tournament?
JOHN TORTORELLA: I thought we played hard. Developed some offense, gave up — the third one, I thought the third goal, when we tied it up 2-2 and they scored a third goal off the short side, I think that hurt us a little bit. I think we opened up a little bit at the end of that second period and gave up a little bit too much. But for most of that game, I thought we did the things we needed to do. We developed some scoring chances. Just couldn’t score enough.
We say that this game had no meaning, but did you give it a meaning beforehand?
JOHN TORTORELLA: Oh, yeah. And quite honestly I didn’t have to give it a meaning. The players felt that. None of us with the U.S. team here from head to toe is happy with what’s happened here. But I thought our guys rallied together here a little bit, and that’s what we talked about, as far as all the things going around the team and the organization of USA Hockey, let’s just try to play a game for ourselves. We come up short, but I think some guys gave some really true efforts. We just didn’t find a way to win the hockey game.
On your lineup decision, I just wonder if you had given any thought to guys like David Backes and Erik Johnson who played a lot over the years for Team USA at various international tournaments and possibly could have been the last opportunity for them. Did you think about that before?
JOHN TORTORELLA: I did, yeah. I think of all that. It’s a tough tournament with lineups because the people you sit out, they’re good people and good players. No matter what game, no matter what’s going on. I sat out Jack Johnson and Dubi the other night, which was a hard one for me, too.
This is what we talked about as a staff. I worry about David. I’m not sure if he’s going to have another whack at this, and that certainly came to my thinking. But I also still wanted to put a team in that I felt we needed to play tonight. Jack Johnson did really nothing wrong. We just went with different lineups the other night. I just felt this was the lineup we wanted to play. We talked as coaches this morning, and this is who we went with.
I know you say normally you don’t address your team after a game. Did you keep up with that tonight, or did you actually say something to them after this last game?
JOHN TORTORELLA: I talked to the team after the game, and certainly that will stay with me and the team.
You’ve defended the roster and you’ve also said that you were pleased with the level of effort that they gave you, but in the end you’ve lost three games. Are we to come to the conclusion that this group just wasn’t good enough to play at this level?
JOHN TORTORELLA: No. I think, as I said, this team has been kind of characterized as a team just full of plumbers and grinders. I don’t agree with that. I think we have some really good offensive people. I think we have a really good mix.
Tonight is another definition. I thought some of our offensive guys, not all, not all for sure, I thought some of our offensive guys had some great chances, and we just couldn’t finish. That’s the way it’s gone for us.
But I will, everybody just seems to keep on circling around that this isn’t the type of team to play in this type of tournament. We have some good offensive people on this club. I think I finally found a good combination. I thought Step and Kane were probably our two best players tonight. You could see them coming the last game. But it is what it is. And I’ll take the hits. I like the team. I liked how they were before the game. I liked them on the bench tonight.
The bottom line is we leave here with nothing, and so certainly we can’t be happy about that. In a tournament like this, I think you’ve got to be really careful not to lose your mind as far as what’s going on with some of the guys. It’s a different type tournament, so I think we’ve got to really — as far as the U.S., the organization, we’ve just got to slow ourselves down and dissect what’s happened. It certainly isn’t good, but not to the extent as far as the chatter all around us. I think we’ve got to block out the noise, reassess where we went, and see what we can do to get us better as an organization.
When you’re doing that reassessment, is there anything that pops into your head right away, you go, boy, I wish I would have done that differently?
JOHN TORTORELLA: No, no, I’m not going to talk about it here now anyway. There are a number of things that I think there’s going to be in discussion. I certainly have some thoughts, but I’m not going to bring it out here. I think it’s best that I just keep it to myself.