COLUMBUS - John Tortorella knows a son should answer his phone when his mother calls.
So, when the Columbus Blue Jackets coach noticed the mother of reporter Tom Reed of The Athletic made repeated attempts to reach Reed on his smartphone during his post-practice news conference Monday, Tortorella decided to answer it.
"Mrs. Reed?" Tortorella said. "Hi, this is John Tortorella. I'm in the middle of a press conference here."
An embarrassed Reed helplessly looked on as the conversation continued.
"That's OK," Tortorella said to Reed's mother. "I'd rather talk to you than your son."
This was the third time Reed's mother called. The news conference was just beginning when she made her first attempt.
Tortorella noticed that one of the smartphones on the podium in front of him was receiving a call (the ringer was silenced) and interrupted Reed's colleague, Aaron Portzline, mid question.
"Wait a minute," Tortorella said. "Mom's calling on someone's phone."
When Reed acknowledged it was his phone, Tortorella said, "I didn't mean to blow you out of the water, but your mother's calling."
The news conference continued, but Tortorella looked down again when Reed's phone buzzed a second time. The third time, Tortorella decided to answer.
"I've seen you called a few times," Tortorella told Reed's mother. "Yeah. It's rude of him not to call you back."
To Tortorella, picking up the phone seemed like the polite thing to do.
"That's a mother calling her son," he said. "I just wanted to make sure that he was not ignoring her or whatever it may be."