Zach Werenski is with his family in Michigan, but that doesn't mean he needs to stay off the grid completely.
On Monday morning he joined Barstool Sports' hockey podcast "Spittin' Chiclets podcast featuring Ryan Whitney, Paul Bissonnette and Rear Admiral, and he spared few details when discussing his relationship with head coach John Tortorella.
"Everything was pretty smooth sailing as a rookie for me, I didn't really deal with too much adversity," Werenski said on the podcast. "He (Tortorella) just let me go out there and play which was awesome. Then my second year, I kind of ran into some struggles.
At the very start of his second NHL season, Werenski tore his labrum in a home game against the Boston Bruins. In his words, he then started to play "like shit" defensively, which caused some strife with him and his head coach.
"He was really hard on me, and our relationship kind of got a little rocky," said Werenski. 'I don't think he could really figure me out as a player cause I'm kind of more relaxed."
This is a characteristic that a lot of fans would say they can't figure out about Werenski, either. His demeanor consistently stays as one of calmness and confidence, no matter the situation you find him in.
"I'm not the guy to go out there and hit or look like I'm skating a million miles an hour...I think that bothered (Tortorella), I think he wanted to see that out of me and I'm just not that type of player."
The start of Werenski's third NHL season didn't see much of a difference with his relationship with Tortorella, after not seeing him even match his rookie-year stat total in his second season even while playing the same amount of games.
However, his improved play at the end of the 2018-2019 season, after another rough start to a season with his coach, made way for understanding and a better relationship. Nothing like playing better to make the coach happy, eh?
"As the year ended, coming off shoulder surgery, I started to play better, find my game, (and) him and me started to figure each other out," continued Werenski. "This year, our relationship has been unbelievable. I think I've been playing better so I think it allows him to just let me play. its been a ton of fun playing for him these four years."
Playing better, he certainly has. Werenski has 20 goals through 63 games this season and is well on pace to break his career-high in points of 47 from his rookie year. His 20 goals are also the best of any defenseman in the entire league, and a team record.
While we're all (somewhat) patiently waiting for the current season to be taken off suspension, it's nice to get some inside scoop like this of a great, young talent like Werenski flourishing in his player-coach relationship.
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