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It’s official: Canucks fire Tortorella, Sullivan

May 1, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT

tortorellagetty Getty Images

The worst-kept secret over the last 24 hours is now official — Vancouver has dismissed head coach John Tortorella and assistant Mike Sullivan.

Here’s a statement from team president Trevor Linden, which alludes to the earlier dismissal of GM Mike Gillis:

“Today we are making an important change in the direction of our team,” said Linden. “On behalf of the entire organization, we extend our thanks to John, Mike and their families for their commitment to the Canucks and wish them the very best.”

“We have a lot of important work to accomplish this off-season as we build our management and coaching staff, improve our roster and connect with our fans. Our General Manager search is well underway and we will begin assessing head coaching candidates immediately.”

There was no news given about the status of the rest of Tortorella’s coaching staff — assistant Glen Gulutzan, video coach Darryl Williams and goalie coach Rollie Melanson — so it’s safe to assume they will remain in place until a new bench boss is hired.

In an interesting note, Linden also sent a separate message to Canucks ticketholders further explaining his decision to remove Tortorella:

This is a fresh start for our team and you’ll see us make some other changes this summer. It starts with how we shape our management and coaching staffs and the roster improvements we’re able to make. Our goal is to be back in the playoffs next spring as we continue developing this group into a team that can challenge for the Stanley Cup.

We’re also committed to making it exciting to watch Canucks games throughout the season. A Season Ticket Member sent me a message recently saying, “We all want ‘The Cup’ of course but we also want to enjoy the ride too.” We’re going to do everything we can to make that happen. We want to put a team on the ice that creates buzz and anticipation in the city on game days. A team that has you planning your week around games and coming early to Rogers Arena to enjoy the atmosphere and to cheer on your Canucks.

Tortorella leaves the Canucks after just one seasons on the job, with a 36-35-11 record and four years remaining on his five-year, $10 million deal.

  1. pirovash88 - May 1, 2014 at 1:33 PM

    Well that certainly didn’t last very long.. I don’t see this guy getting a coaching gig for a while.

  2. canucks30 - May 1, 2014 at 1:37 PM

    Hopefully, the Canucks next head coach is more like Pat Quinn, Marc Crawford, or Alain Vigneault and less like Bill LaForge, Mike Keenan, or John Tortorella.

  3. joey4id - May 1, 2014 at 1:40 PM

    Hmmm! “Our General Manager search is well underway and we will begin assessing head coaching candidates immediately.” So, is Linden implying that the GM will have no say in who will be hired as the coach? Not a good way to start retooling….

    • hockey412 - May 1, 2014 at 1:46 PM

      Good point. They might have a hard time bringing someone in immediately anyway – there may be a number of other gigs opening shortly, and based on the sh&tshow they made of Vancouver, if I’m a coach looking for a job I’m going to take that into consideration.

    • charlieconway96 - May 1, 2014 at 1:49 PM

      Highly doubtful. He said, “We will begin assessing head coaching candidates”, probably means that he’s got a vision of how he wants management to look so he’s gonna get his ducks in a row for once they hire a new GM and compare notes.

      • imleftcoast - May 1, 2014 at 3:27 PM

        Comment was made by someone who knows absolutely nothing about Trevor Linden. He wanted to consider the Tortorella situation before making a decision. He’s not going to make a unilateral decision or a hasty one.

    • bigtganks - May 1, 2014 at 2:21 PM

      Assessing, not hiring the coach immediately. I wouldn’t read too much into that.

      • joey4id - May 1, 2014 at 3:34 PM

        Nobody is a worse politician than I am. For the sake of the next GM Linden should have said something like; we’re actively pushing cnadidates for the GM position. One that will share the vision, goals, and objectives of ownership and management. Once the GM is in place we will begin our search for a new coach, and will hire one who is ready to buy into our vision, goals and objectives. Leaves no doubt that it will be a team effort and that the GM will be in the driver’s seat.

        Politics, taxes and death. Hate them all but they are part of life.

      • imleftcoast - May 1, 2014 at 4:56 PM

        He’s 0 for 2 on being a good politician then. After Gillis, Canuck fans will appreciate some honesty and transparency.

    • c9castine - May 1, 2014 at 2:22 PM

      while i agree that wouldnt be right, thats not how i read it.

      i think he meant the GM search is well underway so we can find one sooner rather than later, so we can start assessing head coaches.

      atleast i hope thats what he meant.

      • imleftcoast - May 1, 2014 at 3:28 PM

        There’s good candidates out there, and Vancouver needs to announce there’s an opening. That’s all I read into it.

    • kaptaanamerica - May 1, 2014 at 8:01 PM

      WTF is “hmmm” supposed to mean Joey?!

      lols, jk… linden isn’t rushing into anything and i’m sure that behind the scenes he’s already talked to GM candidates without leaking it to the loser media in Vancouver like Willes (that c**t) or any of the other a*h*les who pass themselves off as being something other than vultures always looking to pick at the team

    • nflnhlrulznbasux - May 1, 2014 at 9:17 PM

      oh, a comment from joey!?!!?!….the same 3 easy viewing steps also used on the likes of bloomfold,.muggaduffa…

      1) skip to thumbs down symbol without reading typed blurb
      2) click on thumbs down symbol
      3) move on to next person’s comment

      After awhile, muscle memory kicks in and you don’t even realize you’re doing it.

  4. canucks30 - May 1, 2014 at 1:40 PM

    Sounds like Linden is reinvesting in the Canucks core group of players and trying to return to the playoffs next season instead of moving out some of the underachieving and ageing long serving Canucks.

    That strategy didn’t work for the Sharks and I don’t think it will work for the Canucks.

    I did agree with Tortorella that the Canucks have become stale and still can’t get over 2011.

    • bigtganks - May 1, 2014 at 2:26 PM

      While I 100000% agree, Linden’s hands are tied with the NTC’s to all the players in that core. The only hope is he’s able to approach these players and say “I’m not Gillis, so I’m not breaking my word per se, so please submit me a list of places you’d be willing to go to”

      Thoughts?

      • canucks30 - May 1, 2014 at 2:46 PM

        According to Elliott Friedman of HNIC, Kesler has a list of teams he’s willing to waive his NTC for:

        Anaheim, Chicago, Colorado, Detroit, Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay. That list could potentially expand.

        I’m sure Alex Burrows wouldn’t mind playing in his hometown of Montreal or in New York under AV.

        The Red Wings, Flyers, and Lightning have all been rumoured to be interested in Alex Edler over the last couple of years.

        There are deals out there to be made but I’m just not sure Linden is all that eager to make significant roster changes. Either that or he’s being pressured by ownership to maintain the status quo.

      • kyegrace - May 1, 2014 at 3:29 PM

        There was an article in the last 48 hours…very well may have been on Pro Hockey Talk…discussing Detroit’s desire for a right handed D. Edler is a lefty.

        Also Edler just bought a house and is on the record recently saying “I didn’t sign a long term deal to not be here…” when asked about the possibility of agreeing to a move.

        Canucks are stuck with Edler. May pan out…who knows. But that Sheahan, Tatar, Smith deal that was on the table at the draft last year looks pretty tempting now. Although Smith is no upgrade on anything the Canucks have on the blue line. Doesn’t mean he wasn’t worth acquiring. Just wasn’t going to be the key to the trade.

        Tats and Sheahan solve a lot of problem. Scoring winger for Kes and capable center for 3rd line.

        Hindsight of course, but any scouting staff worth their salt would have seen the upside in Tatar. *Insert Ron Delorme joke here*

        Sheahan a bit harder to have seen. Not a ton of games on the resume at each level he’s played but as it turns out he has only gotten better at every level. Harder to see that coming though. Someone much closer to the Wings talent pool said they wouldn’t have guessed he’d make the jump this year. Albeit thanks to injuries in Detroit, still managed to prove he can play.

        Can’t see Burrows going anywhere. Suspect he is on the Bieksa train. He’ll ride it out to the end.

        Anyways…

    • micasa81 - May 1, 2014 at 2:49 PM

      I wouldn’t say Linden’s committed to any path forward yet. The Canucks are definitely stale, but few people consider just how valuable it is to have some continuity between the older guys and the new kids of the future in a franchise (just ask Linden about Stan Smyl). It comes down to what you can get in return for your veterans. In the case of the Sedins, I don’t think it’s anywhere close to what they can provide a Canucks team in rebuild. Kesler is a different story. At any rate, Torts’ coaching was bad enough that it’s probably worth holding off on the fire sale for at least a year.

      As for the Sharks, everybody is focusing on their most recent collapse and saying that the “retool” model isn’t working for them. Well, they weren’t in retool mode in 2009, they were at their peak, and they still choked in the playoffs. There’s a difference between a team on the decline, and one that just can’t get it done come playoffs. Time will tell, once Thornton, Marleau and Boyle are gone, whether the retool has worked for them. All I know is that the 19-27 year-olds on the Sharks put their counterparts on the Canucks to shame.

  5. 950003cups - May 1, 2014 at 1:43 PM

    Poor John Tortorella. He’s the fall guy. He’s a good coach.

    #SupportTheTort

    • bullwinkle88 - May 1, 2014 at 2:02 PM

      No one believes that except you.

      • pastabelly - May 1, 2014 at 2:33 PM

        He won a Cup in Tampa. He’s no idiot. He wasn’t going to win with that group of players in Vancouver and he was in playoff contention until they traded away Luongo and he was forced to go with Eddie Lack. To a very large extent, the atmosphere in Vancouver was crap and nobody was going to win there this year. One year is no commitment, but you can scapegoat him if you like. The new management team doesn’t need to apologize and they should put their own guy in there. All I’m saying is that Tortorella really didn’t even get a full turn at bat when you consider he was missing a Sedin and Burrows forgot how to play hockey. A new coach isn’t going to get that team in the playoffs next year. You’ll find out soon enough that the franchise needs a rebuild.

      • 950003cups - May 1, 2014 at 2:59 PM

        He almost had the Devils in the EC. Nobody thought the Devils could get out of that round after getting shutout two of the first three games of that series. He’s a good coach. Take him to a smaller market team without all that media, and watch him succeed.

    • 7mantel - May 1, 2014 at 2:39 PM

      Agree ! Dislike him for his personality or for what ever reason but he is still a good coach !

      • imleftcoast - May 1, 2014 at 3:38 PM

        Most importantly, he failed to adjust his style to fit the talent. The Canucks best players had career bad years by a significant margin. He overplayed the core guys who were tired down the stretch, and didn’t develop talent like he promised. There were a lot of missed games due to shot blocking. More importantly, he does not appear to understand the importance of puck possession in today’s game.

      • 7mantel - May 1, 2014 at 7:06 PM

        Val / not good ,torts / wrong system ,next year it will be Linden / must go

  6. lowenni - May 1, 2014 at 1:44 PM

    No surprise. Tortorella can be a good coach with the right team and is an excellent defensive coordinator but by no means worked well with the way the Nucks are built. The Nucks need a change of definition and it looks like Linden definitely knows that and is doing the appropriate thing. I feel sort of bad for Torts because he is a good coach but I don’t know if he’s going to be getting a job offer this summer. Back to TV??

    • jjustingraham27 - May 1, 2014 at 2:08 PM

      I hate that phrase, he’s a good defensive co-ordinator. This isn’t football, which is a two platoon game and each component is independent of the other. Moving from the defensive zone to the offensive one is key, and the team never did that. They lacked speed, they lacked innovative offense, they tried to play dump and chase with a roster that was built for speed then lost its identity after the Stanley Cup final.

      Gillis lost sight of the team in terms of building the roster, and regardless of who decided he was the man for the job Tortorella was a bad fit. That and the active disparagement of players and management made him a divisive figure with no real loyalty built up in the locker room. Watch and see how many Canucks mourn his departure. I was disappointed when they hired him but held onto hope, and it all got dashed in a hurry.

      • c9castine - May 1, 2014 at 2:27 PM

        Torts never adjusted with the game after the 2005 lockout. the game since that point has been all about puck possession and transition.

        hes still coaching collapse defenses that rely on moving up the ice as a 5 man unit. too slow. even teams like the bruins can stretch out the ice and get behind defenses. they attack in the neutral zone and get going the other way instead of just collapsing in the house and trying the flying V

      • canucks30 - May 1, 2014 at 2:49 PM

        The game has changed several times SINCE 2005. The style of play in these years playoffs is quite different than what worked in 2011 and 2012 which was quite different from what worked from 2005-2010.

  7. canucks30 - May 1, 2014 at 1:46 PM

    The most awkward sports interview ever featuring the rumoured new General Manager of the Vancouver Canucks, Jim Benning:

    • micasa81 - May 1, 2014 at 2:03 PM

      That’s friggin’ gold. Good find.

    • pastabelly - May 1, 2014 at 2:43 PM

      Who is David McGinnis (the interviewer)? Was that a joke interview?

      I don’t understand why Linden would hire anyone involved with the Bruins (Jim Benning) since he doesn’t like the style of hockey they play. Benning might be more comfortable with someone who plays Claude Julien’s system and Vancouver fans would probably rather lose than be subjected to watching 82 games of Bruins type hockey that values players like Bergeron and Krejci and not so much the Sedins.

      • canucks30 - May 1, 2014 at 2:55 PM

        I think the Canucks are intrigued by Benning’s scouting background and draft success in Buffalo and Boston. Especially in the middle to late rounds of the draft:

        2006 No. 5 Phil Kessel
        2010 No. 2 Tyler Seguin
        2011 No. 9 Dougie Hamilton
        2012 No. 24 Malcolm Subban

        The 2006 draft also yielded Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand

        In Buffalo, Benning had a hand in the Sabres drafting the core of the team that lost the Eastern Conference finals in 2006 and `07. It was a group that included goalie Ryan Miller, forwards Thomas Vanek, Derek Roy, and Jason Pominville and defenseman Brian Campbell.

      • imleftcoast - May 1, 2014 at 7:30 PM

        I liked him when he played with the Canucks. Seems like a minor point about style, but considering this disaster with Torts maybe not. Ken Dryden has a great line in his WSJ article today:

        One team, the Canadiens, celebrates skill (and admires toughness). The other, the Bruins, celebrates toughness (and admires skill).

        http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303948104579533630164514334?mg=reno64-wsj&url=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB10001424052702303948104579533630164514334.html

    • c9castine - May 1, 2014 at 2:43 PM

      is that reporter (or guy interviewing) on peyote or what? haha…strangest series of questions i have ever heard

      • nflnhlrulznbasux - May 1, 2014 at 9:06 PM

        Although I don’t know the reporter, I was intrigued by his approach towards a professional coach, so I googled some info. The reporter is a person with diverse abilities. He is a high energy young person who loves sports, music and animals. He has a knowledge of sports and music history and trivia that is quite impressive. When you have an interview with David, have your facts ready and be prepared for an engaging conversation.
        Looks like he did not use any notes, took interest and had some questions that broke away from the standard Pierre “know-it-all-but who-cares” McGuire interview.
        AWESOME interview!

  8. hunterdoerksen - May 1, 2014 at 1:49 PM

    Does anyone think Horachek (spelling?) could be brought in, either as assistant or head?

    • soro17 - May 1, 2014 at 2:17 PM

      Linden must institute a ban on anything / anyone that has any association with the Florida Panthers.

  9. ffrey3660 - May 1, 2014 at 1:57 PM

    He’ll be lucky to coach a pee wee team. Needs to get over himself. Way to take a fast team and chuck it into a dumpster. Oh and look where the Rangers are now. Van fans I feel for yah.

  10. bullwinkle88 - May 1, 2014 at 2:03 PM

    Torts is done in the NHL. His best bet is to coach in the league Mike Keenan is coaching in now. Those two deserve each other.

  11. nyeagles10 - May 1, 2014 at 2:09 PM

    So happy when the rangers gave him the boot, he has no respect for anyone. AV was a steal for the blueshirts . Perfect fit

  12. micasa81 - May 1, 2014 at 2:13 PM

    I didn’t know Torts all that well before he came to Vancouver. While I found his coaching style really inflexible and a terrible fit with the Canucks, I found his candor with the media refreshing. I didn’t see the arrogance (not that there was anything for him to be arrogant about this year) that lots of people diss him for.

  13. patthehockeyfan - May 1, 2014 at 2:16 PM

    I’m probably more guilty than anyone here of making fun of Torts and the soap opera that is (was) the Vancouver Canucks. Yet, I can’t help but feel sorry for him. He’s almost like an anachronism trying to find his place in today’s hockey world. I don’t know if that’s possible anymore, especially given his tendency towards an emotional outburst or two.

    I still feel bad for him. I believe that it was always his intent to build a winning team, and, faults and all, it’s hard to criticize that intent. I hope he succeeds somewhere with something that makes him happy.

  14. barkar942 - May 1, 2014 at 2:19 PM

    Hey Ovie- guess who’s coming to dinner… I mean head coach the Caps!!!!! I will have to subscribe to gamecenter to see all of the fireworks!

  15. hockeyornothing - May 1, 2014 at 2:27 PM

    Torts may indeed be a good coach but not in the NHL anytime soon IMO. Why all the feeling sorry for him? He tried to institute his systems and style and also forgot to leave the temper and attitude. Plus how can you feel sorry for him getting what? another 8 mill for the next 4 years?
    Heck maybe that goes away if he gets another job but he will probably make more if he ever gets another stint.

    • patthehockeyfan - May 1, 2014 at 3:01 PM

      I’m not sure if your question, “Why feel sorry for him?” is directed towards my comment (two above yours). In case it is, and to answer: in a nutshell, I feel sorry for him because I’m a woman and I feel sorry for nearly everyone who’s down except for criminals and politicians. (Was I just being redundant there?)

  16. vbcaps - May 1, 2014 at 2:29 PM

    I think torts is a good coach generally speaking but he is like a Rubik’s cube, tough to figure out sometimes

    • 7mantel - May 1, 2014 at 2:44 PM

      Rubik’s cube= funny

  17. Wineshard - May 1, 2014 at 2:44 PM

    Next season’s KHL final will pitt Keenan vs Torts.

  18. watermelon1 - May 1, 2014 at 3:24 PM

    New coach of the Capitals!

  19. jonnyhammersticks - May 1, 2014 at 3:48 PM

    As a Rangers fan I still have a ton of respect for Tortorella and what he did with that team, even if it didn’t end well. People who hate on him obviously have short memories. Vancouver wasn’t the right fit but I can see him landing a job and doing well in the right environment.

  20. matt14gg - May 1, 2014 at 6:35 PM

    It’s so strange that Tortoralle and Sullivan coach together. There’s no good cop/bad cop with those two. They are two of the most miserable people the game of hockey has ever seen.

  21. badgerhockey77 - May 1, 2014 at 7:08 PM

    Torts laughing all the way to the bank!

    • matt14gg - May 1, 2014 at 7:16 PM

      Torts never laughs.

  22. schlitzy - May 2, 2014 at 12:39 AM

    I hope Torts finds success with another team. I still think he’s a good coach. time will tell.

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