John Tortorella calls Ryan Reaves an ‘animal’ in postgame NHL presser
Following a 2-1 OT loss to the St. Louis Blues, the Blue Jackets coach put his foot in his mouth in postgame NHL presser
Ah, John Tortorella is back in the spotlight for comments directed at a black player. The Columbus Blue Jackets’ coach was none too pleased with some of his players’ efforts in the team’s 2-1 overtime loss to the St. Louis Blues.
He assailed his top players for their lack of fight, but before getting to them, he opened up by commending Blue Jackets forward Nick Foligno on actually getting into a fight with Blues forward and tough guy Ryan Reaves on Saturday night.
“The thing that crawls up my a– is, I watched Nick Foligno fight that animal,” Tortorella told reporters after the game. “I watched some other guys do everything they possibly can to try to win the hockey game. Then, I see a few of our top guys, they did not give enough.”
Let’s not forget this is the same coach who this fall created a stir by inserting himself into the debate about whether San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick should protest during the national anthem. At the time, Tortorella was coach of Team USA for the World Cup of Hockey and said he’d “bench any of players” if they followed Kaepernick’s protest and did not stand for the national anthem.
Kaepernick, as has been well documented, is protesting the oppressive treatment of people of color in the United States.
None of the reporters followed up the “animal” comment with a question to clarify his remarks, so we can’t know his intent. The coach’s track record discussing race, though, doesn’t help give him the benefit of the doubt.
The NHL’s first African-American player, Val James, was constantly referred to as an animal during his playing days. Tortorella needs to consider how and which words to use when discussing players of color, especially when there were other words to describe Reaves in that situation the other night.