NEW YORK -- Vancouver Canucks coach John Tortorella admitted his primary focus was getting a win as he returned to Madison Square Garden for the first time as Vancouver's coach to meet the New York Rangers, who he coached for slightly more than four seasons before being fired this past summer.
He described the feeling of returning to the arena he called home for almost five years as "weird," but Tortorella expressed a single objective before the game Saturday afternoon.
"I am going to coach this game, hopefully kick their [butt] and get out of here," Tortorella said. "That's certainly not being disrespectful. We're so wrapped up in our seasons. We play tomorrow at 1 o'clock in Carolina, we're getting on a plane and going."
John Tortorella admitted his primary focus was getting a win as he returned to Madison Square Garden for the first time as Vancouver's coach.(Photo: Jamie Sabau/NHLI)
Tortorella was preoccupied with getting two points on the road, but he acknowledged that the relationships he established during his time in New York were still with him. Those bonds were strengthened during a playoff run that saw the Rangers advance to the 2012 Eastern Conference Final.
Now in a different conference with a different team in a different country, Tortorella hasn't forgotten about those relationships just yet.
"I don't think you ever sever [those relationships]," Tortorella said. "Some of the most important things when you're all said and done with the game - coaching, playing, whatever - are the relationships. I don't think you ever sever it."
As coach of the Rangers, Tortorella was cast in the middle of North America's largest media market. But just because he's no longer working in New York doesn't mean the spotlight on him has softened. Especially in a Vancouver market that follows the Canucks as closely as any fan base in any NHL city. The setting may be different, but Tortorella's expectations for himself and his team certainly haven't changed.
"When I was here in New York City, big city, the scrutiny, but there's so many different sports here that are covered," Tortorella said. "In Vancouver, it's a city with pressure in winning, as all cities are. You're playing for the whole province of [British Columbia]. There's quite a bit of scrutiny going on there, but that's right where you want to be."