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Twenty-six hours

Twenty-six hours was all we had in New York City, so I made the most of it.

Spirits were high coming off a big win over the Ottawa Senators Thursday night, which made Friday’s travel a breeze. Everyone was jacked to visit the Big Apple, even if only for a cup of coffee Saturday; we flew post-practice and the flight was good, the cannelloni was good, Flight of the Conchords was good.

Then we got to New York and good jumped to great. Everyone ditched their luggage and hit the town as soon as possible knowing it had to be early to bed for Saturday’s afternoon game.

Armed with a black Seattle Seahawks hat, my phone, wallet, backpack and an expectation I’d be lost soon, likely after being mugged, I left the hotel and rode the subway to Soho. Holiday shopping was the goal and I more than accomplished it uptown, downtown and in Times Square.

No I won’t tell you where I went, or what I bought!

While on the train to Soho, I looked around and realized I was in New York freakin’ City. I also realized a prairie boy like myself stands out, what with all the unnecessary smiling and politeness and the labeled half peanut butter and jelly sandwich I was eating from the lunch I packed for when New York swallowed me up. So I turned my hat backwards, slouched a little and dropped the permagrin I sport.

No one was going to mess with me now.

Truth is, no one was going to mess with me either way. New York is a sensational city and I’ve never once felt unsafe walking the streets, even late at night.

New York gets a bum rap sometimes as being overly tough and gritty, as does Canucks head coach John Tortorella.

This is my first road trip of the season, making it my first with Torts. We haven’t created a secret handshake or started wearing half-heart necklaces that when joined together spell BFFs, but we’ve chatted and I’ve got to say, this Torts guy is pretty nice. The resume he’s put together through the first few days of this trip is quite impressive.

While I’m trying to forget the 5-2 beatdown the Canucks took Saturday, I’ll never forget Torts putting the loss behind him in the blink of an eye to spend a few minutes with his good friend Liam Traynor post-game.

I won’t remember what the Canucks practiced Friday in Ottawa, but I’ll never forget Torts telling the players to mingle with the junior players around the rink before getting on the bus. Same goes for coach himself visiting with Seth on Thursday in Ottawa to brighten the spirits of a kid whose mom had recently passed away.

I guarantee you’ve seen the footage of Torts ripping a strip off of Jannik Hansen, then again off Alex Edler, but that’s a coach trying anything and everything to motivate the Canucks to get to new heights. Love it or hate it, that intensity is here to stay.

Also here to stay is Torts’ genuine affection and big heart. It doesn’t make for a very entertaining gif, no chance, it also doesn’t win hockey games, never will, but as novelist Philip K. Dick said best: “The true measure of a man is not his intelligence or how high he rises in this freak establishment. No, the true measure of a man is this: how quickly can he respond to the needs of others and how much of himself he can give.”

We only had 26 hours in New York and Tortorella used part of his time to give of himself make a difference in the lives of others.

He made the most of his time too, without even packing a lunch.

-Derek

P.S. - In San Jose I was Derek Joy in the press box, in New York it was Derek Jorey. Joy or Jorey, you know who I am and you know what’s up.