Team USA coach John Tortorella: 'Easy to start chucking dirt on us'

ByScott Burnside ESPN logo
Friday, September 23, 2016

TORONTO -- Team USA coach John Tortorella on Thursday expressed his disappointment at former U.S. players --including Pittsburgh Penguins forward Phil Kessel -- taking shots at the team after it failed to advance in the World Cup of Hockey.

"To me, it's a little self-serving, and quite honestly, it doesn't make USA Hockey look any better either," Tortorella said of the criticism. "It's self-serving, and I think the people that are doing it, it really doesn't help them either."

Kessel, who was on both the silver-medal U.S. team at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and the team that didn't medal at 2014 Games, was left off the roster for the World Cup of Hockey after a strong season with the Stanley Cup champion Penguins.

He took to Twitter after Tuesday's 4-2 loss to Team Canada that dropped the U.S. to 0-2 and kept them fromadvancing out of the three-game preliminary round.

"I just wish he didn't say anything because it makes him look bad," Tortorella said. "I don't want him to look bad. And the other guys? It's so easy. It's so easy to start chucking dirt on us when things are going bad. But when they've been playing in the program, for the whole USA Hockey, it just does not look good. And we have some work to do to get some respect back. That stuff doesn't help."

Team USA was outscored 11-5 in three losses and finished the preliminary schedule with a 4-3 defeat to the Czech Republic, which also did not advance.

Tortorella saying Team USA's problem simply was improper execution.

"We just did not, from the staff right on through, did not get the job done," Tortorella said. "You need to accept that, and we need to take the medicine.

"But I'm not listening to people talk about different things when honestly they don't have a clue. You have to take your medicine. I'm making no excuses for us. I let a lot of people down. That's a responsibility on me. But some of the stuff out there as far as picking apart ... my God, stop it."

Team USA general manager Dean Lombardi said he simply wished he had more time with his 23-man roster to build the chemistry of a winner.

"I told them I wish I had this group for a longer period of time because I know we could have built that culture," said Lombardi, who has won two Stanley Cup titles as general manager of the Los Angeles Kings. "But it didn't happen."

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