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Some thoughts on Torts, who was never a good idea for Vancouver

May 1, 2014, 3:13 PM EDT

John Tortorella Getty Images

John Tortorella got fired today in Vancouver. I’ve written a lot about Torts and the Canucks, so here are a few thoughts on his dismissal:

— Tortorella was a bad hire. Simple as that. Back in September, PHT did a season preview Q&A where one of the questions was, “True or false: John Tortorella’s first season as head coach of the Vancouver Canucks will be successful.” I answered, “False. The Torts hiring reminds me of the time the Capitals tried to change their style. I think the entire Canucks organization is a bit lost right now.” Fast forward to the present and Mike Gillis is gone, too. (And George McPhee, for that matter.)

— I never bought the speculation (which seemed to morph into fact) that Gillis didn’t want Torts, and that it was a pure ownership hire. Frankly, I think Canucks management was furious with the players after the embarrassing San Jose sweep last year, and I think Torts came in and told a rattled Gillis what he wanted to hear — that he could put the swagger back into a veteran group that suffered a severe loss in confidence after the 2011 Cup final, that he could turn a young, raw talent like Zack Kassian into the type of “heavy” player that’s needed to beat the Bruins and Kings of the world, that he could give the Canucks the “bite” that everyone seemed to think they lacked, and probably a bunch of other stuff that convinced Gillis to sign off on a hire that, based on his core “fundamentals and principles,” made absolutely zero sense.

— The 2013-14 Canucks were a terrible team to watch from an entertainment perspective, and it’s no surprise that Trevor Linden wrote in his note to season-ticket holders that he was “committed to making it exciting to watch Canucks games throughout the season.” For the prices Vancouver fans pay to get into Rogers Arena, they want to be entertained. And rightly so. The Pavel Bure years. The West Coast Express years. The years the Sedins were making dazzling plays and capturing scoring titles. Those were the teams that truly captivated the city. Fans shouldn’t feel bad about demanding exciting, up-tempo hockey.

— I’ll give Tortorella this: he got the Canucks to stick up for each other, and they didn’t seem to embellish as much as they did under Alain Vigneault. Personally, I like teams that take a no-nonsense approach. That said, those are such minor things in the overall picture. Look, the Canucks under AV were guilty of diving, yes. But they were also guilty of having a really good power play. The embellishing was intentional. They enjoyed getting under their opponents’ skin, and it worked. People called them arrogant, because, well, they were pretty damn arrogant. Obviously, not everyone liked the way they went about their business (to steal a phrase from Torts), but if you ask Mark Recchi, “That’s what made them successful, because they believed in what they were doing.”

—  At times, it seemed like Tortorella treated the Canucks like they had no idea how to win. Just a lot of “we still have a lot to learn about…” and “I still need to teach them about…” type of comments. I wonder if the Canuck veterans picked up on that. Not to suggest there was no room for learning, but it’s not like he was taking over the Oilers. This was a very good team for a number of years. Sure, they played in an easy division, but come on, you don’t win back-to-back Presidents’ Trophies and get within a game of winning the Cup because you’re in an easy division.

Anyway, I’m not convinced Tortorella’s done as an NHL head coach. I could see him having success with a young team with more impressionable, energetic players, but he wasn’t the right fit for the Canucks.

We’ll see how the next guy does.

Related:

Linden wants new Canucks GM by end of May

Is Tortorella’s system to blame for Canucks’ woes?

Linden thinks Torts misused the Sedins

  1. imleftcoast - May 1, 2014 at 3:20 PM

    I had a feeling this would happen after listening to Linden yesterday, but thought the GM hiring would be first. Why announce it today? Was it to get it out of the way, because of the candidates out there or b/c Torts is taking another job?

    • AppealToReason - May 1, 2014 at 3:42 PM

      Probably more to be an open spot for candidates of first round exit teams and its never a good thing to let a guy hang in limbo while other positions are filled costing him opportunities.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if Linden texted Benning and asked “how do you feel about tortellini on game days?” and Benning said “Yeah its not great. You should change that”

    • nothanksimdriving123 - May 1, 2014 at 3:45 PM

      The timing is because it would be weird to interview a GM prospect who will obviously ask, um, what about this coaching situation? Is Torts staying?

  2. 950003cups - May 1, 2014 at 3:28 PM

    Florida Panthers will be perfect for Tortorella for a variety of reasons.

  3. kastout11 - May 1, 2014 at 3:30 PM

    I don’t like him as a coach, but I liked him when he was in the Versus studio as an analyst.

  4. canucks30 - May 1, 2014 at 3:30 PM

    I agree with a lot of what Tortorella said at the end of the season:

    Even with a new Head Coach, the Canucks need to have meaningful roster turnover.

  5. slysipops - May 1, 2014 at 4:12 PM

    i hear MIKE KEENAN wants to come back to NORTH AMERICA!

  6. barkar942 - May 1, 2014 at 4:20 PM

    Keenan will become head coach and Torts assistant to set the defensive system in Washington! Ovie will immediately retire to the KHL with his buddy Kovy.

  7. bigtganks - May 1, 2014 at 4:26 PM

    Tortorella gets hired in FL, then the Panthers move to Seattle.

    Then let’s see how happy Strombone gets on twitter

    • greatmiamisportsmind - May 1, 2014 at 5:43 PM

      Florida isn’t leaving anytime soon

  8. joey4id - May 1, 2014 at 4:59 PM

    Good for you JB for being right about Torts being a bad hire. I for one didn’t think the Canucks would derail so badly. I don’t understand how a young sports writer, and no offense to you, could see the writing on the wall yet all the hockey brainiacs in the Nucks organization didn’t see this coming. Shame on them.

    • joey4id - May 1, 2014 at 5:18 PM

      And how dare you JB reference and old article and include quotes from that article. Don’t you know that it’s improper etiquette here on PHT? You will be branded a narcissist and frowned upon by most commenters.

  9. flyboystransport - May 1, 2014 at 5:09 PM

    Peter laviolette…..

  10. jpat2424 - May 1, 2014 at 5:10 PM

    Who cares

    • kitshky - May 1, 2014 at 6:19 PM

      Well, out of the 15 or so people who cared enough to comment … I’d say you.

  11. gbart22 - May 2, 2014 at 5:56 AM

    Torts won’t be back unless he changes his attitude. He is quite embarrassing and have style he preaches is hard to watch. Very hard.

  12. slysipops - May 2, 2014 at 6:56 PM

    how about EDDIE OLCHYCK the way he yaps on the games coverage he should take any team to the golden rings !

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