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Gillis says his comments weren’t a shot at Torts

Apr 7, 2014, 5:22 PM EDT

Mike Gillis

Remember last week when Canucks general manager Mike Gillis went on the radio and promised to “get back to the fundamentals and principles” in which he believes — specifically, an “up-beat, puck-possession, move-the-puck quickly, force-teams-into-mistakes, high-transition game” — and pretty much everyone took it as a direct shot at head coach John Tortorella?

Well, according to the Vancouver Sun, Gillis “privately asserted” the next day that “his comments were not intended as an attack or judgment on his coach.”

Which would tend to support the less-salacious argument we posed Thursday that Gillis was, in fact, admonishing the club’s ill-fated change of direction that started before Tortorella was even hired.

Now, that being said, Gillis definitely did send a message with his remarks that anyone who wasn’t on board with his new/old vision would be “changed.”

It’s also entirely possible that Gillis, upon watching the Canucks fall apart in January, approached Tortorella about adjusting the team’s style and the two didn’t see eye to eye.

Which would tend to support what the New York Post’s Larry Brooks wrote in a column that was penned while the Rangers were in Vancouver:

Tortorella’s narrow vision has done him and his team in this year. He has become the worst kind of zealot behind the bench, believing his way is the only way to win games regardless of his playing personnel, even if that means pounding square pegs into round holes. He is a zealot, a true believer that grinding, blocking shots and packing the defensive end is the one and only route to success.

Maybe that’s just Brooks’ opinion, and his alone. But we’d wager it was based on a few conversations he had with people in the know.

Bottom line: if Gillis isn’t fired at the end of the season (yes, a big if), Tortorella will have to be open to widening his vision; otherwise, it’s hard to see how he keeps his job.

Gillis did make sure to mention Thursday that “everyone thought Alain Vigneault couldn’t change from a defensive-style coach to an offensive-style coach. If given the resources and if the players are committed to it, I think any coach can coach the team that he has.”

Related: On Canucks’ style of play, Torts accuses critics of ignorance

  1. imleftcoast - Apr 7, 2014 at 5:35 PM

    The Canucks were back at it against the Kings. Chipping it out and icing the puck instead of lateral passes to transition. It’s crap, it’s not an NHL-calibre system.

  2. canucks30 - Apr 7, 2014 at 5:40 PM

    Don’t see the Aquilini’s firing Gillis and/or Tortorella when they both have 4 years and millions of dollars left on their contract.

    • charlieconway96 - Apr 8, 2014 at 3:45 AM

      If thats the case then I pray for safety on the streets of Vancouver. The fans and media all seem out for blood and one of their heads will have to roll to appease the mob.

  3. tronn25 - Apr 7, 2014 at 5:51 PM

    Typically, I love seeing this team fail in the playoffs. Watching this flop-prone, whiny, women’s soccer team of a franchise get their hopes up throughout the regular season only to see their joy ripped from them year after year is a dependable treat.

    This year, however, has been special. Watching the Torta-Gilla s**t show that has become Vancouver hockey has been amazing. They should give the franchise its own 24/7 reality show or something. At least it would sell some ads.


    • pigeonbutt - Apr 7, 2014 at 6:40 PM

      I mean I’m actually grinning ear to ear over how petty this.


  4. c9castine - Apr 7, 2014 at 5:53 PM

    This organization has been a complete and utter mess ever since they made a public issue out of their goaltending position.

    Luongo was never the reason they didn’t. They started messing with something that wasn’t broken. AV was not the problem. Just because you don’t win the stanley cup does not mean you don’t have a winning formula. 1 team wins every year.

    Just awful, awful management for the last few years. Hiring Tortorella in favor of AV was part of that. Things can change, but there is no evidence it will.

    • pigeonbutt - Apr 7, 2014 at 6:43 PM

      I agree with most of your post but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There was a very grounded reason for removing AV and most of Canucks nation was behind it at the time. Those who want him back now are the same kind who phone their troubled ex when times get lonely.

      • c9castine - Apr 7, 2014 at 8:18 PM

        I agree with you to an extent…not because of his abilities as a coach but because sometimes a change just needs to be made.

        But owners and management need to be careful in how they listen to the fan base. Its not smart to make a move like they because the fan base is behind it…if the action is negative. Fans are typically wrong about a lot of issues and tend to think in the short term.

    • stakex - Apr 8, 2014 at 12:29 AM

      Something was broken with the Canucks under AV though. Despite being one of the better teams in the league most years under him, and for a couple seasons THE best team in the league, the Canucks struggled to win in the playoff. They only made it out of the 2nd round in one of AV’s seven seasons, and looked bad when they washed out of the playoffs ahead of schedule most years.

      Its similar to Bruce Boudreau with the Capitals…. you can be a dominant regular season coach every year, but if you struggled to win in the playoffs you won’t be around forever.

  5. drewsylvania - Apr 7, 2014 at 6:06 PM

    Big difference between attacking a person and attacking their actions.

  6. pigeonbutt - Apr 7, 2014 at 6:54 PM

    I’m pretty curious at what the Brough/Halford tandem’s take is on the future of Canucks management to be.

    Obviously the current tumultuous situation offers plenty of opportunities to write about the “what ifs” and unsupported speculation regarding the team.

    But the two of you have written far too much about this current spectacle to not have opinions on whether Gillis or Torts deserve another chance. I’m sure you can objectively introduce it while still leading to open discussion… as much as people like to make it seem it certainly is not as simple as “fire everybody.”

  7. paulerhythm - Apr 7, 2014 at 7:55 PM

    Well, who was it that signed Luongo to a 12 year NTC? Who was it that panicked and put Schneider in during the 2012 loss to the eventual SC champion LA Kings? Who was it that signed Schneider to a #1 contract, creating a goalie controversy? I’d say both Gillis and AV panicked and we know what happened after the 2013 sweep from the Sharks.
    Now, the season is tanked and Torts is cause of the tanking, or is it? Maybe the players need to look in the mirror; Gillis needs to get the right type of players to play his system and Torts needs to embrace Gillis system and maybe, just maybe, they right the ship. I have my doubts…

  8. blomfeld - Apr 7, 2014 at 10:36 PM


    All this ‘he said she said’ crap is for the birds. It was Gillis himself who only two years ago in the wake of being ‘creamed’ by the glorious LA Kings was going on about the ‘new’ NHL and the need for ‘size, strength and toughness’ in-order to win it all, etc. Ditto that last year in the wake of another humiliating 1st round loss to the ‘cool’ Sharks. The bottom line is that Gillis is a disingenuous ‘reactionary’ suck hole whose only accomplishment has been to keep his job for as long as he has. He was a creep as a player agent who did nothing but ‘feed’ inflation at the time … and today he’s nothing but a ‘despot’ GM grasping for straws as his time winds down here in Vancouver. As a member of the people and one who still ‘cares’ for the Canucks, I for one hope & pray that this ‘snake oil’ salesman now gets his due !


    • machosasquatcho - Apr 7, 2014 at 11:19 PM

      I’m betting that when your mother birthed you, there was a palpable sense of shame in the room/dumpster.

  9. mrhyperpants - Apr 8, 2014 at 12:11 AM

    Time to pack your bags Gillis. The season is now over hahahaha!

  10. President Charles Logan - Apr 8, 2014 at 2:41 AM

    Blomfeld , as usual acting like he’s always been a Kings fan when indeed he hopped on the wagon 2 years back .

  11. pastabelly - Apr 8, 2014 at 5:06 AM

    If Gillis thinks that this is a playoff team under any other coach, then he has a few loose screws. The problems in Vancouver in 2014 were more Burrows, Sedin, Sedin, Kesler, and Edler, and goaltending than they were Tortorella. I suppose the need to scapegoat the loudmouth coach is convenient though.

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