After weeks of speculation, the Vancouver Canucks officially named John Tortorella their new head coach. He becomes the 17th head coach in franchise history and is the first American-born coach to be named head coach of the Canucks. Tortorella was recently fired as the head coach of the New York Rangers after being eliminated in the second round of the playoffs by the Boston Bruins.
Tortorella is renown for his run-ins with the media during his time in New York, especially with Larry Brooks of the New York Post. While his press conferences had become a must-watch circus, Tortorella told members of the media that he had discussions about that with general manager Mike Gillis and he knows “how important it is to cultivate a relationship with [the media] and I’m going to work on that.”
Another issue with Tortorella that led to his firing was that he lost the Rangers locker room. While acknowledging that he put players in poor situations which should’ve never happened, he also stated that, “It’s not always yelling and screaming and kicking. There’s going to be honesty, but I’m going to be fair.” When asked about the Rangers playoff failure and what can change in Vancouver, Tortorella admitted that he didn’t get the Rangers mentally ready for the task at hand. “We can talk about x’s and o’s,” he said “but the mental part of the game is the most important part.”
The biggest question that people had with this hiring when it was first rumored was the possible drop in production due to Tortorella’s shot-blocking, defensive system he utilized on Broadway. Torts said that in order to win the Stanley Cup a team must play defense and block shots without sacrificing offense. He then used the Boston Bruins as an example and stated that they got as far as they did because they were able to do both. Tortorella then stated that the Sedin twins would be on the penalty kill, that in order to kill penalties you must play solid defense, and that for solid defense one must block shots. He further said that the Sedin’s would want to block shots because “they want to get better.” When Mike Gillis was asked about this, he stated that “coaches coach with the players they are given” and that if “John felt that’s how he needed to coach to be successful, then so be it.”
While some have knocked the hiring based on a systems perspective, it wouldn’t be fair to not recognize the fact that Tortorella has won a Stanley Cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning and has also won a Jack Adams Award. The coaching ability is there, the talent on the Canucks roster is there, now all that’s left is to bring the Cup on a parade down Granville Street.