New York Rangers head coach John Tortorella has taken his tendency to be ice cold with the media and raised it to the level of an art form. His brief, curt post-game press conferences are getting nearly as much media attention as the final scores of Rangers' games—and this may even be his goal (no pun intended). If the press is talking about him, then they're not putting pressure on his players.
Tortorella's press conferences have become mandatory post-game viewing for fans during the NHL playoffs, even if his apparent loathing of the media has begun to irk some reporters. Neil Best of Newsday tweeted: "John Tortorella's playoff non-interviews were amusing shtick for a while. Now they have become annoying and unprofessional." Journalists may not like him, but they still love a good story—and that's what Tortorella has become.
Want to handle the media like Ice-Man Tortorella? Just follow these five easy steps:
Keep answers as brief as possible: On April 21, Tortorella used just six words in his meeting with media members following a practice.The words "no" and "next question" can help you dictate the pace and flow of the media session, just as they do for Tortorella.
Forget "spinning" answers, just avoid the questions completely: On April 30, Tortorella avoided answering some of the most standard questions. When asked about the health of one of his players, he said, "Nope. I’m not gonna give you updates on lineups or injuries, so let’s just move right by that.” When asked about one of his player's diminished playing time, he said, "You’re not gonna get the answer.”
Curse frequently: Nothing makes for a better headline than an expletive-filled quote.
Humiliate reporters: After the Rangers beat the New Jersey Devils 3-0 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals on May 14, Tortorella was upset with a reporter who didn’t silence his/her cell phone. Tortorella pointed at the reporter and said, “That’s ridiculous,” several times.
Set a two-minute limit for press conferences: Following the Rangers 3-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals on May 16, Tortorella stonewalled reporters' questions, telling them that he was going to "keep it in the room" in regard to the way he felt about his players' efforts, and walked away from the microphone after 85 seconds, which is actually a much longer session compared to the 26-second exchange he had with the media during his April 21 press conference.
Tortorella's boss, MSG executive chairman James Dolan, is not known to be free and easy with the media either, so they appear to be a good match. If you want to apply any of these principles yourself, better check in with the C-suite first.
Follow Bill Miltenberg: @bmiltenberg