Mar 3, 2014, 11:35 AM EDT
No longer just a great song you hear at Joe Louis Arena, “Don’t Stop Believing” has apparently become the mantra of the Vancouver Canucks.
To wit, here’s coach John Tortorella after Sunday’s 4-2 loss to Ottawa in the Heritage Classic: “The only thing you can do from (general manager) Mike Gillis right on down to our team, we need to keep believing as an organization and take each and every day.”
And here’s winger Alex Burrows, still without a goal this season: “We’ve got to rely on our system, and keep believing that we’re doing a lot of good things. You’ve got to keep believing that your structure and your system is strong.”
It’s funny, because that’s the exact same message I heard from countless members of Team Canada in Sochi. When the goals weren’t going in, they said the only thing they could fall back on was the system, and they had to believe that it would eventually pay off.
You know how that ended. Mike Babcock’s puck-possession system was ultimately celebrated, along with the gold medal.
But — and this is the thing when it comes to the Canucks — what if the system is, you know, completely and utterly wrong?
We only ask, because, not long ago, Vancouver was one of most dynamic offensive teams in the NHL. Today, with largely the same core players, its offense ranks 27th, averaging a paltry 2.33 goals per game.
And back when the Canucks were piling up the points in the standings, Burrows and the Sedin twins formed one of the best, most entertaining lines in hockey. Today, that line is a shadow of itself, no disrespect to the shadow.
I asked Burrows if Tortorella’s system made it harder to do the things his line used to do so well.
“It’s a little different, that’s for sure,” Burrows said. “But we’ve got to make more plays.”
I asked him how the system was different.
“Well, I’m not going to comment, go down into it,” he said. “But we have to be better.”
I didn’t expect to hear a detailed breakdown of the system, or for Burrows to bash his coach’s game plan. Besides, the players do “have to be better,” regardless of the system.
But let’s face it, Tortorella was fired as coach of the Rangers for a reason. Actually, it was a few reasons, but the “style of play” he dictated was a big one, according to the guy who fired him.
“If you look at these playoff games (like the Stanley Cup Finals matchup) you’re gonna see tonight, the style that they play, I mean there’s not a hell of a lot of dump-ins,” Glen Sather said in June. “I mean, (if) you have to dump the puck in, you have to dump it. But there’s a lot of puck control and hanging onto the puck and moving the puck out, and there’s not stopping behind the net to gain control. There’s a lot of things that are done differently than what we were doing. So you have to look at the style of play. That had a lot to do with (the decision to fire Tortorella), too.”
And when the Canucks’ last coach, Alain Vigneault, was hired by the Rangers, it wasn’t a commitment to shot-blocking and collapsing in front of the goalie that Sather was trumpeting.
Tortorella said before the Heritage Classic that he was hoping the quasi-outdoor experience might help jump-start his “big guys” (translation: Sedins and Burrows) offensively.
“I think some of our guys need to offensively allow themselves to play some shinny hockey,” he said. “Just let them play. Maybe this will help us. I don’t know.”
Of course, he also said his “biggest concern” was “staying with our structure.” Which doesn’t exactly translate to, “Just let them play.”
But hey, don’t stop believing.
Jul 31, 2014, 3:54 PM EDT
Ottawa’s offseason is receiving mixed reviews.
Jul 31, 2014, 2:31 PM EDT
He doesn’t know how to haggle.
Jul 31, 2014, 1:18 PM EDT
Dallas Stars version.
Jul 31, 2014, 12:41 PM EDT
Let’s make a big deal out of this, shall we?
Jul 31, 2014, 11:52 AM EDT
A “well-deserved” honor, according to Ed Snider.
Jul 31, 2014, 10:51 AM EDT
Beginning with the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings. Click for the full 30-team schedule.
Jul 31, 2014, 10:22 AM EDT
Brandon Sutter next?
Jul 31, 2014, 9:51 AM EDT
Went 12-15-6 with a .913 save percentage last season for Ottawa.
Jul 31, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
But he also won’t require surgery.
Jul 31, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
All that and more, inside.
Jul 30, 2014, 9:30 PM EDT
They’ll face off against Canada and Russia at a tournament in Toronto next week.
Jul 30, 2014, 8:30 PM EDT
Acquired last season in exchange for Krys Barch.
Jul 30, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT
“We’re moving along on that.”
Jul 30, 2014, 6:28 PM EDT
“We haven’t approached it in that respect.”
Jul 30, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT
This time, it features just one plaintiff — former Bruin Jon Rohloff.
Jul 30, 2014, 4:34 PM EDT
Alternate captain notched a career-high in goals last year.
Jul 30, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT
“Usually this isn’t the time to fight for the big contract.”
Jul 30, 2014, 2:35 PM EDT
Jim Hiller is hoping to follow in the footsteps of Todd McLellan, Paul MacLean, and Bill Peters.
Jul 30, 2014, 1:28 PM EDT
Finnish club is moving to the KHL next season.
Jul 30, 2014, 12:17 PM EDT
Arbitration hearing is scheduled for Thursday.
- Lindros, LeClair and Desjardins to be inducted into the Flyers Hall of Fame 33
- It’s back! PHT’s Team of the Day summer series starts tomorrow 6
- Pens sign Spaling — two years, $4.4 million 13
- Agent: Subban hasn’t told me to make him NHL’s highest-paid D 30
- Devils sign Greene to five-year, $25M extension 18
- Subban seeking $8.5 million in arbitration, versus the Habs at $5.25 million 46
- Marchand on Plekanec: ‘I hate him. I can’t stand him’ 59
- Gettin’ paid: Gardiner inks five-year, $20.25M extension with Leafs 15
- Report: Trottier to join Sabres’ coaching staff 21
- Blues sign former eighth overall pick Mueller 31
- Cashing in: Rangers sign Brassard to five-year, $25 million deal (63)
- Marchand on Plekanec: ‘I hate him. I can’t stand him’ (59)
- Subban seeking $8.5 million in arbitration, versus the Habs at $5.25 million (46)
- Trotz plans to let Johansson, Kuznetsov, and Burakovsky compete for time at center (45)
- Richards: If not for the cap, half the league would want to play for Hawks (36)