I watched a Claude Noel media scrum the other night and John Tortorella broke out.
Oh, yes, Coach Claude went all Torts. He was not a joyous Noel after his Winnipeg Jets had been beaten by the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night, a loss that placed the Jets on the hope-and-a-prayer life support system. He came across as a graduate of the Torts School of Media Relations, that's what he did, and it wasn't a pretty sight. I swear, I thought our boy Claude was actually going to start crying after one poor sap asked the "dumbest question in the world." For the second year in a row, no less.
Instead of weeping, though, he began singing a hurtin' song after fielding what I must presume was the second dumbest question in the world.
"If you can't come up with somethin' better than that, you're hurtin'. I'm hurtin'," he said, then took his puck and went home.
Yup, there sure was a whole lotta hurtin' going on. And, of course, there'll be a whole lot more hurtin' if the Jets are not up to the task tonight against les Habitants from Montreal. Lose and it's a done deal. No playoffs. Again. The Jets will be oh-fer-2 since setting up shop in their Little Hockey House on the Prairie in downtown Pegtown.
And then there'll be a whole lot more of the world's dumbest questions for Coach Claude to bark about.
Someone might ask him why his 29th-ranked powerplay sucks. They might ask him why his 22nd-ranked penalty-killing unit sucks. Someone might ask him why he's still giving Dustin Byfuglien more than 26 minutes of ice time when it's apparent that Big Buff has been running on fumes for about a month. Someone might ask him if Big Buff is going to be a minus player the rest of his life. Someone might ask him why his No. 1 goaltender, Ondrej Pavelec, is actually a No. 33 and No. 37 goaltender in the significant categories of save percentage and goals-against average, respectively.
It will be Dumb and Dumber, the sequel.
Look, nobody has to tell me the media is an ass, because I used to be one of those asses. I do, however, think that perhaps Coach Claude might want to consider the notion that his hockey club has the friendliest media since Ed Dearden was the Jets beat reporter in their World Hockey Association days.
Most of you probably don't recall the scribblings of Ed Dearden. Let's just say he wrote nary a discouraging word about his hockey heroes. He was what you call "a homer." So much so that he once offered to pick up "some clean socks and underwear" for the Jets' coach of the day, Bobby Kromm. I swear, it's true.
For reasons I cannot recall, Eddie stayed home in River City when the Jets embarked on a lengthy road trip (the junkets were always lengthy in the WHA) and he was to join them in progress. In the interim, he handled his interviews via telephone and put in a call to Kromm the day before he was to join the club somewhere in the U.S. I was sitting at the desk next to him in the Winnipeg Tribune sports department, listening to his "dumb" questions, when he blurted out the most gobsmacking remark and I heard in my 30 years as a jock-sniffer:
"I'll see ya, tomorrow, Krommie. Say, would you like me to stop by your house on the way to the airport and pick you up some clean socks and underwear?"
Offering to pick up the coach's clean gitch...now that's a friendly media.
I would venture to suggest none of the boys and/or girls who track the Jets as they make their way through this National Hockey League season are quite that chummy with Coach Claude. I'm quite certain he's got the laundry issue well in hand.
But he does have a very friendly media.
Quite frankly, I rather enjoy the majority of Coach Claude's to-and-fro sessions with news scavengers, because he's as blunt as a wrecking ball. That's refreshing. But when he turns Torts on them? Not so much.
Yo! Coach Claude! This isn't exactly a news bulletin, but reporters often ask dumb questions. It's in their DNA. So, you want better/different questions? Then what say you do something better/different? Like make the playoffs.