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On The Bench, Torchetti's Energy Noticeable

by Evan Sporer / Minnesota Wild

VANCOUVER – There are plenty of superstitions in hockey, but that of interim Head Coach John Torchetti may be the quirkiest even by most standards.

"Is that different?" Torchetti asked after leading the Wild to a 5-2 win in his first game coaching. "It's to get me going. I've just always done it as a player, and as a coach. That's my only superstition, so I have to keep it."

The Wild's bench was high-energy on Monday, noticeably so in the eyes of Torchetti's players. It began with the new coach's superstition, taking a whiff of smelling salts, indicative of the pace and intensity Torchetti would maintain for the next 60 minutes as the Wild ended an eight-game losing streak.

"He did a pretty good job of it," Charlie Coyle said. "He's always talking, always going over stuff that happened, and making plays better.

"He still keeps the mood light, but he lets you know when he wants things done differently in a positive way. It felt good."

The mood and atmosphere that Torchetti created was one that his former players, of which there are 12 on the Wild, said is one of his strengths.

"It was great," Zach Parise said. "It kept us into the game; it kept life in there. You're held accountable to make the right play all the time."

Watching Torchetti on the bench could elicit comparisons to an orchestra conductor, or a marching band leader: lots of movement, tons of communication, and everyone moving to his beat.

"That's what we need now," Mikko Koivu said. "We need life, and we need to support one another, and we need support from [coaches]."

Then there are Torchetti's facial expressions, which may convey a different mood than what's actually beneath the surface.

"I might not look it on the bench, but I'm having fun," he said. "For players, it's working hard together, and it's you against them.

"It's your team executing your team philosophy against the opponent. So let's have fun doing what we do best, and we have to do it collectively."

Rookie defenseman Mike Reilly, who played 40 games under Torchetti in Iowa this season, has lauded his coach for how badly he wants to win, and how much attention to detail goes into his approach.

"He's really obviously paying attention to the game, and he's telling us just little bits and pieces that will make huge differences in the game," Coyle said. "It helps a lot."

In Torchetti, Coyle has found common ground. They both suffer from the same linguistically accentuated tongue, that of the Boston accent.

But Coyle, not having played for Torchetti since turning pro in 2012 and playing in Houston of the American Hockey League, has heard differences in Torchetti the second time around.

"I don't know, I think he's kind of lost it a little bit, so I was kind of shocked," Coyle said. "It's nice to hear it. I like it; I'm trying to get mine back."

As for if Coyle is asked to be a liaison to the lingo, the requests are coming in.

"Mikko said something today — he might need a translator — so I'll be there for him," Coyle said.

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