John Tortorella, the most successful American coach in NHL history, has been named to lead the United States' entry in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.
Tortorella, whose 446 NHL victories are 10 more than that of Nashville Predators coach Peter Laviolette, last coached in the NHL with the Vancouver Canucks during the 2013-14 season and has since acted periodically as a studio analyst for ESPN.
The official announcement was made Monday night on SportsCenter, following Monday Night Football.
Tortorella began discussing the possibility of taking over as head coach for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey with general manager Dean Lombardi and other members of the U.S. management team a few months ago, then confirmed he would take the job at a recent meeting in Minneapolis, he told ESPN.com on Monday.
"I couldn't be more honored," said Tortorella, 57. "I couldn't be more excited to be part of it."
The native of Concord, Massachusetts, hopes to name a coaching staff before the start of the NHL's regular season so the coaches, most if not all of whom will presumably be coaching NHL teams, can focus on their NHL jobs.
Among those who would naturally be in the mix to join Tortorella's staff: Laviolette, a former Olympic head coach; Buffalo Sabres coach Dan Bylsma, who coached the U.S. entry at the Sochi Olympics in 2014; Columbus Blue Jackets bench boss Todd Richards, who also has significant international experience; and Scott Gordon, who was a member of the coaching staff with the U.S. team at the Vancouver Olympics in 2010 and is coaching the Philadelphia Flyers' American Hockey League affiliate.
Tortorella is expected to also name a goaltending coach to handle the team's three netminders.
"I think there's some really good coaches out there that can bring things to the table," he said.
Tortorella will work with Lombardi, assistant GM Paul Holmgren, senior adviser Brian Burke and assistant executive director of USA Hockey Jim Johannson in scouting the players who will make up the 23-man roster that will take the ice against seven other teams made up mostly of NHL players from around the world.
Tortorella was an assistant coach with the U.S. entry in the Vancouver Olympics that won a silver medal, losing to Canada in overtime in the gold-medal game. He is intrigued by the format of the World Cup of Hockey, which was last held in 2004.
The U.S. will be joined by hockey powers Canada, Sweden and Russia along with Finland and the Czech Republic. There will be a team of European stars from other European nations (Team Europe), and Team North America which will feature players from Canada and the United States who are under age of 24 as of Oct. 1, 2016. The tournament will be from Sept. 17-Oct. 1.
Tortorella said he and the management team have already started building a roster board of possible players who could make the U.S. team and said there are difficult choices ahead for Team USA.
"We did try to forecast a little bit," Tortorella said. "There are going to be some tough decisions."
Tortorella's 936 NHL games coached is the most of any American coach. He won a Stanley Cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004 and that same year was honored with a Jack Adams Award as coach of the year. He was runner-up twice for the award, in 2003 when he was also with Tampa, and in 2012 when he was coach of the New York Rangers.
In his final two stops behind the bench, Tortorella was known for his sometimes acerbic exchanges with reporters and/or opposing coaches. He was suspended by the NHL for 15 days after trying to get at Calgary coach Bob Hartley between periods of a game in January 2014.
He is also considered a strong motivator of his players and a coach with a keen understanding of implementing defensive game plans.
For a short tournament like the World Cup of Hockey, Tortorella said it won't necessarily be the team that has the best players that wins but rather the one that jells quickest that will have the most success.
The fact the games will all be played at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, home of the Maple Leafs, means the makeup of the team will be different than at an Olympic tournament, where the ice surface is bigger.
"My attitude towards playing this game is we're going to go straight ahead," Tortorella added. "We're going to set the pace.
"I have a pretty good idea of how we want to play. We want to go. If we don't have the puck, we're going to go try and get the puck."