Skip to content

‘It’s obvious Tortorella can’t come back next year,’ writes Vancouver reporter

Mar 11, 2014, 12:07 PM EDT

Eddie Lack, Joe Colborne, Dan Hamhuis AP

From The Province’s Jason Botchford, in the wake of last night’s monumental Canucks collapse versus the Islanders:

Seven goals, one period.

This, for a coach whose whole system is based around his team’s ability to keep pucks out of the net.

This, for a coach who chased out Roberto Luongo when he didn’t start him at the Heritage Classic.

It’s obvious Tortorella can’t come back next year.

You can’t oversee the disintegration of a team like this and recover.

The fans won’t have it. The players won’t have it. And even if you hire a new GM, there is no way he’ll have it.

In fact, Botchford thinks there’s a good chance Tortorella won’t be behind the bench tomorrow when the Canucks play the Jets in Winnipeg.

Who exactly pushed for Tortorella’s hiring has always been a big question in Vancouver. If it truly was Mike Gillis, it was an odd choice for a general manager who had always prided himself on a progressive hockey philosophy. Tortorella is more of an old-school coach, which is why many believe it was Canucks ownership that wanted him, not Gillis.

We wondered last week if Tortorella’s system was a major part of the problem in Vancouver, and certainly nothing we’ve seen since has made us stop wondering.

There’s plenty of blame to go around for the current state of the Canucks. The coach. The general manager. The players. And yes, ownership. All of them are responsible in some way. It’s just a matter now of figuring out who’s around next season. Ownership will be. The rest still need to be determined.

  1. lowenni - Mar 11, 2014 at 12:11 PM

    While I do think Tortorella is a good coach, he just clearly doesn’t fit in Vancouver. They really have no choice but to fire him, I think. I doubt the Canucks players would disagree. He may have trouble finding a new job despite having a very good mind for a defensive system, too. After a season like this I see it being a few months or years before he finds a new coaching job, at least in the NHL that is.

    • c9castine - Mar 11, 2014 at 1:06 PM

      I’m starting to hope that ownership are the ones making these decisions for the last couple years because I have a hard time believing that a nhl general manager created this bad of a mess. Look At the isles….Garth snow is bad but Charles wang is pulling a lot of the strings over there.

      Once again, I say especially to my Pittsburgh brethren…..Vancouver is exhibit A as to why you don’t panic and blow it up just because you think you should have won a cup and didn’t.

      If it weren’t for Mario and Ron burkle letting ray Shero run the team the right way and staying out of his business and just giving him al the tools he needs, who knows where we would be. Probably right behind Vancouver on the path of self destruction.

      Imagine if we had traded fleury or as some crazy people were saying, bought him out. Then vokoun had a blood clot. Our next two goalies were Jeff zatkoff, the current 3rd string backup, and Eric hartzell who just got sent down to the ECHL.

      • lowenni - Mar 11, 2014 at 3:38 PM

        Okay…I agree with your comment and everything it entails…but you reallly find a way to bring your Pens into every article. I understand you were comparing the two, but you don’t always have to glorify the Pens or Shero in this case when the matter being discussed is something else. Just my opinion because 95% of the time I see one of your comments, you’re making something about the Pens.

      • c9castine - Mar 12, 2014 at 2:26 AM

        I’m trying to put ipthe situation into context and it’s an example I know well obviously examples with the pens are something I know well and wether most people like it or not they know the examples well too the penguins get a lot of press. Also most importantly the penguins and their coaching management goaltending defense leaders and how they all relate to the post season and the future is again for better or worse a very frequent topic of conversation or should I say debate on PHT

        I get what your saying I will try to use differentj examples.

      • kaptaanamerica - Mar 11, 2014 at 7:37 PM

        I don’t mind if the guy brings the Pens into every comment, the guy is using them for comparison and to maybe explain to other fan bases what is going on in terms they understand. Frankly, every team has gone through a shiite phase that is at the top of the standings right now. One of the only teams with consistently good management has been the Detroit Red Wings, probably the best run sports franchise in North America and maybe the world.

        When the Canucks had the single most dominant season in the modern history of hockey during the regular season, no one could have imagined what would be the situation just 3 years later (for the haters, check the stats and where the Canucks were in every major category of competition that season). The Canucks were a great team for a good number of years when Naslund and the West Coast Express was around, and became an elite team when the Sedins took over a few years later. Sure there were some lean years in between. There may be some lean years in the current period, but the team will bounce back. Ownership doesn’t want to destroy this golden egg laying goose. It’s only a matter of time before this ship is righted.

      • c9castine - Mar 12, 2014 at 2:29 AM

        Let’s be honest the thumbs up/down show a pretty good indication of how people feel about the pens so there is always the agitator role that I can’t seem to shake as well

        Hard to resist annoying people when it’s literally that easy.

    • 950003cups - Mar 11, 2014 at 2:27 PM

      Tortorella would thrive coaching Columbus. Not that they should fire Todd Richards, but it would sure bring a spotlight to that area.

      • lowenni - Mar 11, 2014 at 3:40 PM

        He may grab media attention to Columbus, but that’s what they need. Todd Richards in my opinion is the most underrated coach in hockey, he employs a great two-way, hard-working system that has the Jackets averaging the 7th most goals in the league. Tortorella would dry up their offense like he does with every other team (see: Canucks, Vancouver or Rangers, New York)

      • lowenni - Mar 11, 2014 at 5:46 PM

        *but that’s NOT what they need

    • slysipops - Mar 11, 2014 at 4:04 PM

      the KHL is always a possibilty,,,ask MIKE KEENAN !

    • semiahmoowr - Mar 11, 2014 at 9:45 PM

      Franceso Aqulini, sell the team. You’re a classless piece of work. You are absolutely HATED by Canuck fans and you have no credibility in business affairs. You fooled around behind your wife’s back which says a lot about you.

  2. sjsharks66 - Mar 11, 2014 at 12:12 PM

    So Torts chased Lou out?? Im sure he was told by their GM to not play him, so he could be traded. Torts just took the heat like an coach would do. As for letting 7 goals in the third? How exactly is that his fault? They went 2 periods without being scored on. They went into the third with a 3-0 lead. Sounds like the players just thought they had already won. Then when they tied it up, they were deflated. Sounds like the team collapsed, not Torts system. Because that system worked for the 2 prior periods.

    • hockey412 - Mar 11, 2014 at 12:21 PM

      I think i’d agree with you there, but it’s actually not the ‘official’ story. They say being held out of the Heritage Classic re-prompted the trade talks and an independent agent swooped in to piece together a deal, and he did in 24 hours what Gillis couldn’t do in over a year. Like I said I’d be more tempted to agree with you.

      I disagree with everything about Torts, though…I hate his style and while he’s been decent this year temper wise (he only tried to assault the other teams coach ONCE), I put a lot of the blame on him.

    • joey4id - Mar 11, 2014 at 12:40 PM

      Hold on! This team has been in disarray for months. They’ve had to deal with so much controversy. Torts has lost the dressing room, and has coached himself out of a job with all his antics. I wouldn’t be surprised that they already told him he won’t be back next year. Gillis is responsible for hiring Torts, and he is responsible for losing the dressing room. One game doesn’t make it the fault of the coach, but this game put in the context of the ongoing saga and mess they are experiencing completely falls on the shoulder of the bench boss. There is such a term as “team psychology”, and their psyche is shot.

    • joey4id - Mar 11, 2014 at 12:43 PM

      His problems started before Feb.

      joey4id – Feb 4, 2014 at 12:22 PM
      My guess is that Torts has loss the dressing room, and I believe his career is fast on the decline, and this might be his last stint. He was spiraling downwards in NY, and that momentum he brought to Van.

  3. bwayblueshirt - Mar 11, 2014 at 12:16 PM

    Canucks should never have hired him. They don’t have the roster to play his game. He is a great coach, but their team was not built for him. He should have been signed by a team like Dallas, someone that had a grinding roster. You mix Torts with a finesse roster like that, and of course it’s not going to work. Management is to blame for the Canucks current debacle. If they were going to hire him they should have re-tooled the roster in the off-season to accommodate his style.

    Also, for what it’s worth, I doubt it was Torts’ decision to bench Luongo for the Heritage classic. He always leans heavy on his star goaltender. I know he has to take credit/responsibility in the media, but I don’t think he had the final say.

  4. joey4id - Mar 11, 2014 at 12:20 PM

    No kidding! I predicted his hiring would lead to a train wreck. He himself said they were off the rails. Brough recently wrote “Vancouver defenseman Kevin Bieksa doesn’t think the Canucks are sinking.” In effect their ship has already sunk. Gillis should also be replaced.

    • 19inarow - Mar 11, 2014 at 6:41 PM

      Pretty much everyone predicted it.

      • joey4id - Mar 11, 2014 at 6:51 PM

        Everyone…. like 7 billion people. Easy to say that after it’s become obvious that they collapsed.

  5. leepetertk - Mar 11, 2014 at 12:20 PM

    Like any couching change, the team will have to determine who else is available. When AV last got extended, there did not seem to be anybody else who could coach the Canucks. Tortorella may return due to his long term contract and nobody else available who management may deem a better fit.

    I think the Canucks will fire Gillis, hire a new manager, and let the new manager go with Torts for one season in order to see how things progress without Gillis at the helm. The Canucks could be slugging through this mess for more than the rest of this season.

    • mcflower29 - Mar 11, 2014 at 12:28 PM

      the longer the better, vancouver canucks must pay for their trangressions.

      per the hockey gods, everlasting frustration and disappointment for their sins.

    • kaptaanamerica - Mar 11, 2014 at 7:48 PM

      hello? why do you think Glen Gulutzan (sp?) is there? torts brought in sullivan but Gulutzan was handed to him to work with. FA hired torts and sully, and MG hired Gully. If torts is getting gassed, look for Gully to take over.

  6. feedmetherock - Mar 11, 2014 at 12:24 PM

    This is a laughable article by the Vancouver writer. So Torts was the one that let the Lou drama build up for over a year? Torts was the one that picked the wrong goalie to hang on to? Torts was the one that left the cupboard bear of any prospects at all? Torts is the one that shipped Hodgson to Buffalo for that nut job Kassian? Torts is the one that is creating more drama by not shipping Kesler out at the deadline, despite the fact that he doesn’t want to be there?

    Gillis is one of the worst GM’s in the league. I think they should bring in someone that is competant at drafting talent and can actually have the internal fortitude to rebuild the team. Torts can be a really good coach, with the right team. Unfortunately this team is a bunch of mental midgets and they are as soft as any team in the league. On top of that, they could have scored a premium in dealing the Sedin twins (who haven’t won anything in the NHL), and got a ton of picks to properly rebuild this thing, instead Gillis continues to grasp for straws and cling to the glory days when they were putting up 80+ points per year, each. The team has decayed from a talent perspective and the skill players on the team are wearing down due to age, and Gillis has done nothing to keep the flow of NHL ready prospects to handle the aging of the team.

    • bwayblueshirt - Mar 11, 2014 at 12:45 PM

      Gillis is a puppet. Ownership needs to hire someone competent and then take their hands off the wheel for a while.

    • imgoingtowichita - Mar 11, 2014 at 3:01 PM

      Keep in mind that this is the same moral less writer, in a room of 20+ media members, elected to run with the SO newsworthy Joe Thornton scoring 4 goals quote. Once that was written, his opinion became about as useful as an org chart to Gilles.

    • storminator16 - Mar 11, 2014 at 3:17 PM

      I find the article laughable by the Vancouver writer because the Canucks fans I know love Torts. Two things everyone should remember:
      1) Torts at the beginning of the season had misgivings about this roster and had no problem airing them.
      2) Gillis will be Gillis.

  7. patthehockeyfan - Mar 11, 2014 at 12:30 PM

    Nolan is settling contract negotiations in Buffalo.

    The soap opera in Vancouver begins. To be continued …….

  8. grocerystick101 - Mar 11, 2014 at 12:31 PM

    I don’t think you can judge a coach after just one season. At the beginning of the year, everyone was saying Vancouver made the right choice and New York made the wrong one. Now 40 games later everyone is saying the opposite.

    The point being fans and the media will make knee-jerk reactions to everything. Give Torts some time and he’ll bring results the same way he’s done throughout his coaching career. Keep switching coaches every year and the Canucks will end up like the Oilers.

    • joey4id - Mar 11, 2014 at 12:44 PM

      Not everyone was saying Vancouver made the right choice;

      joey4id – Sep 5, 2013 at 11:39 AM
      Torts! Burke! We’re seeing a train wreck waiting to happen in Western Canada.

      • imgoingtowichita - Mar 11, 2014 at 3:08 PM

        You are so unbelievably humble. It is my great honour to have stumbled upon your prognostications. Please continue …

      • joey4id - Mar 11, 2014 at 3:10 PM

        Call me the “Don Cherry” of PHT. LOL!

    • dku5 - Mar 11, 2014 at 1:46 PM

      You can change coaches overnight, but it takes years to rebuild a roster to fit the new team strategies. Joey was right in predicting this would be a “train wreck,” but only because they did not bring in a coach that was going to better the team they already had. Torts needs to buld a team that suits his philosophey or chagne to meet the team’s ability.

  9. patthehockeyfan - Mar 11, 2014 at 12:36 PM

    You gotta love the photos of Torts used in these stories. In this and in one just last week, he’s looking up … as if only Jesus can save his team. (And, another commenter brought up the Jesus angle in that earlier story; not I.)

    Of course he’s looking at the jumbo tron replay; yet, it just really seems as if he’s asking for the hockey gods’ help.

    It would seem as if their answer is, “Nope!”

  10. chrisk61 - Mar 11, 2014 at 12:43 PM

    vanc now “LACKS” a goalie. and some of the top players — incl sedin twins and booth — are overpaid, spoiled and soft; so they won’t respond to tortorella’s style.

  11. bigtganks - Mar 11, 2014 at 12:47 PM

    It comes down to this. Can Aquilini write a check for 8M for Torts to go away or 16M for he and Gillis to both go away? Part of me says no way. But this is a business. In any business, there’s sunk cost and opportunity cost. With sunk cost, you can’t hold onto this nightmare because in a sense, this is money you’ve already spent. Now the opportunity cost is bigger because what is he losing on top of the 16M if he were to send them packing sometime this week? He may save money by writing a check for 16M, and then sell to the fanbase and sponsors “HOPE”. Hope and youth. At least there would be optimism that this is rock bottom and next year, new coach, GM, draft, and youth next season would excite those who can NOT be sold this product for another year.

    I think FAquilini HAS to write that check, otherwise he’ll lose far more over time and damage the brand and fanbase.

    • blomfeld - Mar 11, 2014 at 11:31 PM

      Bigtanks – that’s an excellent analysis … however I’m convinced that Gillis will be terminated and then Torts will be promoted to Coach & GM this summer or earlier …

  12. rpiotr01 - Mar 11, 2014 at 12:47 PM

    This was just a bad, bad fit from the start. They need to start over from scratch in Vancouver, work on opening a new window in a couple seasons.

    And while I think Torts has done a poor job with this team, it’s really hard to win games when you are getting poor – not just mediocre – but POOR goaltending and soft defense.

    • sumkat - Mar 11, 2014 at 12:55 PM

      The crazy part is, IF they started from scratch before Torts got there, they’d be in much better shape. Torts is the type of coach that thrives off of having young teams playing “above their heads”.

      When he runs a team full over veterans, he’s more of a cartoon character than a coach. Tirades aren’t going to impress the Sedins’. Screaming and hollering is not going to motivate Kesler to step up his game. All the gestures in the world are not going to make Luongo change how he’s playing. Torts is a coach that needs a team full of guys that at least have a little bit of fear of him. When he’s on a team that knows better, its asking for trouble

      • rpiotr01 - Mar 11, 2014 at 12:58 PM

        Really good point. Same situation with the Rangers. Young core when he got there and they seemed to thrive on his demanding style. You get older and you start to tune it out. In that light he may well have been the worst choice to coach this particular Canucks team.

      • sunderlanding - Mar 11, 2014 at 5:34 PM

        …but it’s not like the Rangers are drastically better without him. Futhermore the Canucks had been getting worse every year since the finals. They didn’t change players, so why would this year be any different? It’s just a team on the decline.

  13. bigtganks - Mar 11, 2014 at 12:53 PM

    And how does Aquilini NOT just go “WAIT A MINUTE?!? I trusted you MG, and you signed the old fragile twins and other players to far too many years, AAAAND, you gave Tortorella a FIVE YEAR DEAL?!”

    How can Aquilini trust ANYTHING MG does now? MG is DRAAAAAAINING Aquilini’s bank account! I think he realizes he can’t have MG make any further decisions. Problem is, you have to have SOMEONE step into that GM role and that may be why a change hasn’t happened… yet.

    • sumkat - Mar 11, 2014 at 1:01 PM

      If/Until we know why they hired Torts (like is said in the post above, it really didn’t/doesn’t seem like a Gillis move), the outside really can’t call this one. Inside that office, they know who pushed for Torts, whether they tell the general public or not.

      If Gillis wasn’t the guy that pushed for him, but they hired him anyway, how do you now blame Gillis for him being a disaster? Overall, on the surface, you would think Gillis couldn’t of been the guy that pushed for this, it’s just a 180 from his usually style. But then again, they’ve been close for a while now. He may have been desperate to get over that last hump and to the SCF…desperate men do desperate things

      either way, while that is still a mystery, I think it’s a little far to say “how can Anquilini trust anything MG does now”….if MG was the guys saying “this is a bad idea”, how would that change how much he trusted him? Maybe MG was the ONLY guy saying it was a bad idea. In that case, you would think his trust in him would increase. Can’t really answer that question without knowing the internal details

      • bigtganks - Mar 11, 2014 at 5:30 PM

        I respect that, but how would Gillis or anyone let the owner do that? I think Gillis would’ve stepped down if he was against it.

      • sunderlanding - Mar 11, 2014 at 5:31 PM

        I don’t think you can put all this on Torts. The team has been getting worse since the finals. Why would they assume this would be the year they stop the slide? It’s not like they changed players. Plus they are in a harder Division.

  14. michemai - Mar 11, 2014 at 12:58 PM

    Botchford’s a hack. He has as much credibility as Simmons or Cox. Just another mitten-stringer who’s trying to stay relevant.

    • elvispocomo - Mar 11, 2014 at 2:10 PM

      This. More so than any comments on Torts Botchford is a terrible journalist. He thrives off of speculation and sensationalism so take everything he says with a pound of salt.

      Torts has made some interesting decisions, but if he goes it won’t be for the reasons I was worried about when he was hired (temper, relationship with/handling of players, etc) and more about how he’s likely overused the top players and tried to implement a system that is unnecessarily difficult and not focussing on the strengths of the players.

  15. travishenryskid - Mar 11, 2014 at 1:05 PM

    Vancouver needs to realize what they are, which is an old team on the down slope with a horrid prospect pool, and no amount of patchwork is going to get them back to where they were 2-3 years ago. They need a fresh perspective from the GM on down. Signing the Sedin’s sealed their fate as first round fodder or near playoff misses for the next 4-5 years. Not much hope for that fanbase.

  16. stakex - Mar 11, 2014 at 1:15 PM

    It would almost be shocking if Torts isn’t fired in the offseason, or even before that. I still think he’s a good coach…. but when things are going this bad someone’s head needs to roll. As the article says, ownership isn’t going anywhere, and on top of that you can’t fire all the players. So its the GM or the coach, and the GM is the one who makes the choice to fire the coach. As such, Torts is going to take the fall no matter how much his fault it is or not. The only real question is will the GM follow him out the door?

  17. jeffr85392 - Mar 11, 2014 at 1:33 PM

    Considering the fact the Canucks are now in the Pacific with my Coyotes, I have to admit I’m really enjoying watching this implosion.

    • soro17 - Mar 11, 2014 at 4:03 PM

      How are the Coyotes doing?

  18. etjla - Mar 11, 2014 at 1:52 PM

    One step closer to the his ultimate destination as Flyers coach.

  19. pastabelly - Mar 11, 2014 at 2:18 PM

    He is signed for a 5 or 6 year deal and isn’t going anywhere. It’s also hard to blame him for the Sedins injuries and Burrows scoring no goals. Considering all of that, the Canucks are performing at or above where they should be, given the talent level.

    His style and the type of players the Canucks have is a bad fit. They should give him a chance and get some players who fit his system and also let him coach with healthy Sedins, etc. There is a FA to be in Tampa Bay who might be a good fit.

  20. wheatkngs - Mar 11, 2014 at 2:24 PM

    Hey Jason….. Any chance the game didn’t feature a monumental Vancouver collapse, but rather a monumental Islander explosion of awesomeness? It’s year 7 of our rebuild. We were due. Watch out metro division!!!

  21. slysipops - Mar 11, 2014 at 4:15 PM

    it’s got to be real tough for TORTS ! smelling the tar melting in the go away pot with every new loss , and knowing he is located in the voodoo land of hockey !

    • machosasquatcho - Mar 11, 2014 at 9:47 PM

      Do you do anything during the day or is just this? Being blomfeld, joey, slysipops, aldog83, and probably patthehockeyfan seems time-consuming.

  22. sunderlanding - Mar 11, 2014 at 5:00 PM

    So the Canucks got worse every year after the finals, and they fired the coach because that would fix the problem, but the team continues to get worse, so the new coach must be the problem. Maybe the players are to blame?

    • imleftcoast - Mar 11, 2014 at 6:14 PM

      Or maybe they didn’t bring in the right coach to fix the problem.

      • sunderlanding - Mar 12, 2014 at 5:01 AM

        Very possible. A lot of people were saying that when he got hired, but even still, two coaches, same team, the players takes some, if not most, of the blame. The GM is also to blame as he failed to aquire the right players.

  23. matt14gg - Mar 11, 2014 at 6:25 PM

    They bring in a hard ass coach who demands his players are defensively responsible and block every shot imaginable to a team full of gingers: gee, I can’t imagine why it didn’t work out.

  24. jeffr85392 - Mar 11, 2014 at 9:01 PM

    soro17, my Yotes are 3 points ahead of VAN starting the night and they are, as we speak, leading FLA 2-0. Thanks for asking.

  25. pensfan1 - Mar 12, 2014 at 2:39 PM

    Watching Tort’s post game interviews just don’t have the zip they had in TB and NY. From the look we see something is behind what he is presenting. Could be ownership or management. Might even be the players. Whatever it is it seems to affect him and he gives the sense he doesn’t want the locker room any more. I agree another NHL team could be a long stretch away if this one doesn’t work out, but hey, Kamloops is in need!

  26. rainyday56 - Mar 14, 2014 at 11:15 AM

    Torts is subdued in his pressers here because he is in a town where even some of the homeless who panhandle outside the arena know more about the game than he does. For the first time in his career, Torts is intimidated.

Sign up for Fantasy hockey

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. J. Quick (1389)
  2. S. Bennett (1319)
  3. A. Ovechkin (1151)
  4. K. Timonen (1125)
  5. B. Schenn (1109)