Vancouver Canucks coach John Tortorella has apologized for favouring Sweden over Canada in the men’s Olympic gold-medal hockey game.
“If I have insulted anybody, that certainly wasn’t my intention and I think all of you know that,” he said after practice Tuesday. “But it was a careless use of words and where I should be more cognizant. I want to clear that up.”
Tortorella said he wanted Sweden to win in order to help struggling Canucks defenceman Alex Edler and winger Daniel Sedin turn their seasons around. Edler and Sedin played for Sweden in the Games while goaltender Roberto Luongo and Dan Hamhuis were members of the gold-medal-winning Canada squad.
“My sole intent — and still is — was worrying about the Vancouver Canucks and the players (who were in the Olympics), how good they’re feeling,” said Tortorella.
The Canucks are mired in a seven-game losing streak that has left them in a battle for a playoff berth heading into the stretch drive of the season.
Canada beat the U.S. in the semi-final to qualify for the final against Sweden. Tortorella, a 55-year-old Boston native known for his outspoken ways that often rankle people, was an assistant with the American squad that lost the 2010 gold-medal game to Canada in Vancouver.
He joined the Canucks after being fired by the New York Rangers in the off-season, and former Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault replaced him in the Big Apple.
“As I said when I was hired here, it’s an absolute privilege to coach in Canada, and I still feel that,” said Tortorella. “I love everything about it. I love the pressure. I love the scrutiny, all the second-guessing (and) all that stuff that comes with it. I couldn’t be happier and, to me, more complete as far as what I want to do as a coach and to coach in this country.”
Tortorella said he sent a text message of apology to one Team Canada coach and it was passed on to all of the others after Canada blanked the Swedes 3-0 on Sunday. He also praised Hockey Canada for the work that it does.