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Report: Tortorella wanted Burrows bought out, never spoke to AHL coach

May 15, 2014, 8:30 PM EDT

John Tortorella AP

Now that John Tortorella is out with the Vancouver Canucks, details about how he ran the show in his one season with the team are finding their way out.

Gary Mason of the Globe And Mail shared some curious tidbits he’s learned about how the embattled former coach handled the situation in Vancouver. To say the least, it’s an eye-opener.

— Tortorella wanted the organization to buy out forward Alex Burrows. In 49 games during an injury-addled season, Burrows, 32,  had five goals and 15 points and has three more years left on his contract with a $4.5 million cap hit.

— Injuries were a big problem for the Canucks this season and they had to dip into the AHL ranks for help often. Problem there, according to Mason, was Torts never spoke once with Utica Comets coach Travis Green. It’s tough to know who you’ve got on the way up if you’re not discussing it with the coach and that put former GM Mike Gillis even more on the spot to try and help the team.

— Torts wasn’t one much for practices this season, apparently. Mason said players felt the coach didn’t have the team practicing enough during the season. He also accused David Booth of being late for a meeting he was early for.

With this pile of apparent issues, it’s incredible to think the organization hurried to get Tortorella in place and signed him to a five-year contract last summer. Now that Torts and Gillis are both out of town, let’s just marvel at how this all came apart this season.

  1. leepetertk - May 15, 2014 at 8:44 PM

    Burrows laid his body on the line for Torts in game 1 of the season, blocking a shot and was injured. His season spiraled downwards from there.

    I did not like how Torts lived in Point Roberts, Washington, instead of in Vancouver. Points Roberts is a pretty long drive to Vancouver on a daily basis. He obviously did this for tax reasons so he could say he lived in the United States and not Canada. Maybe this led to having fewer practices.

    The Canucks called up a slew of AHLers and they were playing 4th line minutes together. Meanwhile he scratched Dale Weise and then eventually orchestrated his trade. I think Dale Weise is doing well now…

    • cambannedloinstache - May 15, 2014 at 8:53 PM

      The one that made my blood boil was him saying the team was stale, needed to get younger. He then wasted a roster space on Sestito for almost every game. Yes, get more youth so they can watch a giant punching bag on skates take their time.

      • leepetertk - May 15, 2014 at 9:28 PM

        He put and left Tostito on the 1st line during the January-February slide! Kesler usually runs shotgun with Sedin twins on the PP. Torts put Tostito on the first unit PP. Over people with skill, i.e. Kassian, Higgins, Booth, etc…

        I understand playing the players who show effort in practice and in-game, but I can’t say Tostito tried so much harder than others. I’d almost rather have an Edler or Bieksa ride shotgun with Sedins instead of Tostito.

        If the team was stale and needed an injection of youth… well look no further than Zack Kassian. For whatever reason he chose Tostito.

        My favorite Tostito moment of the year:
        Folowing the Calgary-Vancouver line brawl.
        Tostito: “They started their idiots so we had to counter.”

        Actually called himself an idiot…

      • 950003cups - May 15, 2014 at 9:36 PM

        You do know that the Sestito to Tostito thing hasn’t been funny since the 2006. Just sayin’.

      • jeff4476 - May 15, 2014 at 11:39 PM

        He did that in NY all the time. Brian Boyle and Taylor Pyatt on the pp but Hagelin sucked on it according to him. He railroaded Avery who always provided heart to this team in favor of slow footed goons. I was so glad when he got canned.

    • bwayblueshirt - May 15, 2014 at 10:43 PM

      I wouldn’t put too much stock in all this. There’s probably a grain of truth to some of this stuff (I buy him accidentally thinking a guy was late and chewing him out), but you also have to figure plenty of guys are still waiting for Linden to give them a stay of execution. Might as well shift blame to the guy who’s head’s already in the basket.

    • 1590t - May 16, 2014 at 11:30 AM

      22 miles is not much of a commute.

      • beedotsix - May 17, 2014 at 9:38 AM

        have you tried to drive from Point Roberts to Vancouver on a weekday commute?

  2. billiam55 - May 15, 2014 at 9:00 PM

    ……….lets just say firing Alain Vigneault was one of the worst decisions that organization made.

    • stakex - May 15, 2014 at 9:17 PM

      Not really. His teams routinely under performed (especially in the playoffs), and his last season wasn’t a great one. He might have taken the team to within one game of the Cup, but that was the exception to how the team played with him behind the bench. You also can’t look at what he’s done with the Rangers and assume the same would have happened if he stayed in Vancouver.

    • salmon90 - May 15, 2014 at 10:31 PM

      way to think that one through billiam55

      • billiam55 - May 16, 2014 at 2:32 AM

        way to make a good comment salmon90

      • salmon90 - May 16, 2014 at 1:51 PM

        I put as much thought into it as yours which implied that the Canucks should have held onto AV. Have you forgotten the Canucks series vs. Kings, Sharks in recent years? It was time for a change. Torts was the wrong move but letting AV go was a necessity. If the extent of your argument is looking at AV’s success with the Rangers then I can assume (as my comment stated) that you didn’t think that one through. If you did, I can assume you’re also the same type of person who thinks Toews is better than Crosby because he’s won more Stanley Cups. Am I correct? :)

  3. muckleflugga - May 15, 2014 at 9:16 PM

    i’m not sure tortorella would have found tax shelter in washington, it taxes at a middle to high rate across the board … in u.s. dollars … if paid in u.s. dollars i’d rather be taxed in cdn funds north of forty nine every time

    tortorella is taxed where his principal residence lies –the place where you collect your mail and pay bills from for the balance of a taxation year, in canada at least … something to consider if you find work in another country, or at sea

    i know workers, particularly sports figures making big money, are watched carefully and i’d doubt any would cheat consciously … there is much scrutiny for good reason … tortorella should only be taxed where he’s consuming resources sustained by tax revenue regardless

    that aside, revelations in the article should be fairly addressed in counter by tortorella … if allegations are true regarding non-existent communication with minor league affiliates, practice and preparation failures or dishonest exchanges with players, grounds for discharge without full compensation may exist

    making all this subject to needed scrutiny before the hanging judge is called-in … this could get uglier than it’s already been

    if allegations are true, a measure of canucks’ potential for immediate improvement under competent coaching may be at hand, yet another means of charting the extent to which tortorella did or did not meet accepted standard of performance against contracted earnings

    • jernster21 - May 15, 2014 at 10:12 PM

      There is no state income tax in Washington, so actually he would have.

  4. stakex - May 15, 2014 at 9:23 PM

    The only odd thing about this is that Torts has been a coach in the NHL on and off for a lot of seasons over multiple teams…. and you never heard stories like this. Hard on the players? Sure. Fighting with management, players, fans, and other coaches? Indeed. Not practicing enough or communicating with his AHL counter part though? Sounds pretty out of character to be honest.

  5. 950003cups - May 15, 2014 at 9:30 PM

    Tortorella will coach again. Florida is perfect for him. He’ll make headlines all over the place. He won a cup in Tampa. He can thrive with their roster. It’s a grinding type roster that nobody in the area even knows exists. Tortorella would give them exposure. At this point, any exposure would be good.

    • leepetertk - May 15, 2014 at 9:41 PM

      I’m sure Luongo would love to play for Torts again…

      • bigtganks - May 16, 2014 at 11:30 AM

        Yah, Tallon is dying to get Torts in there with that Strombone guy they picked up for the next 6 years. Lu’s last game with Vanc WAS the Heritage Classic after all. I’m sure he thinks fondly of that game.

  6. Wineshard - May 15, 2014 at 9:41 PM

    US tax is based on Citizenship and Canada taxes based on residency. Therefore, he avoids having to jump through the foreign tax credits used to avoid double taxation. He may have also had other reasons, but currency exchange would not be one of them.

    Point for this article is that he obviously was not fully committed to the team if he lives that far from the rink.

  7. muckleflugga - May 15, 2014 at 9:41 PM

    the enclosed link is of considerable interest for persons who blog or comment on blogs … it should be of greater interest to nbc editors and software engineers building web pages or apps accessing web pages

    this while assuming they’re not already addressing similar issues themselves

    some of technological improvements faced by the hew york times detailed in the article would improve this forum immensely

    i’d love to be able to build a favoured subject and commentators list across the entire nbc sportstalk website, being able to avoid much of the juvenile interchange would be a godsend, but that’s just my personal opinion … it would afford those offended by my material equal opportunity to be spared

    if you have time, read the article and pursue the links

  8. esracerx46 - May 15, 2014 at 9:42 PM

    If I was an owner, in light of this report…he’d be joining Iron Mike on the DO NOT CALL list.

  9. papajack1259 - May 15, 2014 at 10:52 PM

    He is not a good coach period but bad coaches can win with good players but not when you rank em in the press …arrogance is unforgivable in coaching

  10. muckleflugga - May 15, 2014 at 11:25 PM

    of interest to vancouver fans, since they ultimately will carry the tab for tortorella’s earnings, is how tortorella conducts himself as he leaves the loving bosom of vancouver by the sea

    this while understanding his boss is a litigious sort given to throwing large amounts of money at lawyers over a few bottles of wine, pricey wine yes … but the real issue was winning

    is there any love lost between john tortorella and family aquilinis

    and no, washington does not tax personal income or corporate tax … i’m confident even residents of washington are subject to federal tax, but feel free to correct me if that is not the case

    the matter of residency was already debated but bears another look when considering tortorella’s status as a taxable corporate entity … if he is not incorporated, he’s a fool … tax havens for corporate bodies are deep and many … even minor sports figures tend to be incorporated as they are in canada

    the question regarding personal income tax is, where is john tortorella’s principal place of residency, and is it in any of forty one states where personal income tax is collected, in which case he is subject to personal income tax … renting a home in point roberts, needed to conduct his business in proximity to vancouver bc, would afford him tax relief against that corporate entity … the same home if owned, would be subject to real property tax, collectible by the county

    it is naïve to glibly suggest tortorella is somehow exempt from paying taxes where ever he lives

  11. kaptaanamerica - May 15, 2014 at 11:28 PM

    I think Torts proved how useless he was in evaluating talent when Dale Weise goes from healthy scratch in VanCity to playoff machine in Montreal. The guy was all over Lucic and company and probably has the makings of a decent third liner. The guy is playing in the last minutes of the game for Therrien in games where Montreal is holding a lead and is defensively responsible the whole time. He has 2 game winners and got the first goal in game 7 to give the Habs the advantage.

    Torts proved himself a schmuck, but a rich one. MG deserves to be fired if this is the kind of bull that Torts was pulling. How MG hired torts over John Stevens in L.A., Ted Nolan, Larry Robinson, Guy Carbonneau is a mystery…

  12. Wineshard - May 16, 2014 at 12:20 AM

    I am not going to confess knowing Torts’ tax situation, but assuming he got some advice on it given his residency in Pt Roberts. Not sure about the US, but Canada has a fully integrated tax system. Corp or personal doesn’t really matter from a cash in your jeans perspective. Lawsuit insulation is another thing.

    All that being said, the optics of living in another country while coaching a Canadian team are not good. I want my coach to live in the rink. To me this choice of residency signals a lack of commitment. How can you as a coach then ask one of your players to commit to blocking shots, for example?

    His tax advice here is the tail wagging the proverbial dog. One of the fundamental failings of giving someone tax advice.

    I guess it ended working as he will likely get all his money anyway….unless of course Torts has any remaining dignity. In which case he will carry the emotional baggage of ruining a team for a few years. Knowing Torts’ stubbornness and self-centred personality I don’t think he will be losing any sleep over all this.

  13. muckleflugga - May 16, 2014 at 1:05 AM

    two points in following; income tax in canada and tortorella’s living situation as it relates to coaching and displacement of qualified canadian candidates for the same job

    income tax in canada:

    in canada we have two means of being taxed, personal and business … both difficult to understand for persons with large income, particularly if personal earnings need to be separated from business earnings … complicated by having distinct taxation periods for each

    throw in earnings from self-employment, private corporations, investments and a rich mix of capital gains, it gets hairy … professional accounting and tax advice is money well spent, though the taxpayer is always himself personally accountable

    it was likely easier for tortorella to live in point roberts, though seemingly dubious to fans paying his salary

    tortorella as canucks coach versus canadian coaching candidates:

    i couldn’t agree more, john tortorella should have taken residency in canada, and contributed in due measure to the economy from which he drew his income … the idea of he living in point roberts simply smells bad … did any of canucks’ foreign players avoid the same social responsibility, i doubt they did

    the more of the man i’m coming to understand, if these allegations as to his coaching are true, the less i like him

    so, how did john tortorella find himself working in vancouver, given government directives found in canada’s foreign worker program … i’m sure qualified canadian coaches were available

    the same would apply in the united states i’m sure, famous for protecting higher grade jobs for qualified americans … does american hockey not produce nhl grade coaches in sufficient quantity so as to fill all vacancies south of the border

    given recent attention to the foreign worker program in canada, it will be interesting to see if pending coaching vacancies on canadian based nhl teams will be asked to hire the best qualified canadian candidate in advance of an equally qualified american

    ditto american teams in response

    if it’s difficult determining tax status for foreign nationals in either of canada and the united states, wait until debate over qualifying for coaches starts in earnest, should it come down to that as the foreign worker program is subject to greater scrutiny

    • slysipops - May 16, 2014 at 6:56 PM

      whoa !!!! another epic saga !

  14. rrsm53 - May 16, 2014 at 7:49 AM

    Torts showed how much of a tool he is when he went after hartley in their dressing room. The guy has personality disorder big time. I love the comment that Dale Wiese was a valuable part of the team, he is a tool dont care what happens in Montreal the guy is a waste of space, whining little wuss. His face hasn’t met a fist it didnt like yet.

    I love it the Canucks are on the slide downward.

  15. slysipops - May 16, 2014 at 7:03 PM

    torts says : ……………………….

  16. mrhyperpants - May 16, 2014 at 9:07 PM

    I would laugh so hard if the Rangers win the cup this year.

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