NEWARK, N.J. -- Vancouver Canucks coach John Tortorella had some old friends standing with him as he conducted his press conference Thursday following his team's 3-2 shootout win against the New Jersey Devils.
Liam Traynor and his family, including his mom, Debbie, stood with Tortorella as he addressed the media at Prudential Center.
Liam, 12, suffers from cerebral palsy. Tortorella met him when he was coaching the New York Rangers, and the two became close while the coach's family also became close with the Traynors. They have stayed in touch even though Tortorella is now coaching across North America in Vancouver.
Liam, who in 2011 was featured in HBO's "24/7 Flyers/Rangers: Road to the Winter Classic," was wearing a Canucks hat.
"He's a Ranger fan, but also a Canucks fan," Tortorella said after asking Liam who he is rooting for now. "He's a great hockey fan, a great kid and a great family."
Tortorella also had friends with him in his postgame press conference Tuesday following the Canucks' 5-4 overtime win over the New York Islanders.
"Liam and I and the family, we've had a lot of good times together for a number of years in New York," Tortorella said. "When I was let go out of there, we talked about it, and it was a little bit of a struggle, but we knew we were going to stay in touch. To be able to see some friends on [Long Island] and to see this family that my family is so close with, we couldn't be happier.
"This is more important than hockey, this stuff here. To join up with them, although just for a few minutes, it's just fantastic to see them."