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Tortorella somber after elimination, columnist calls team’s style ‘unwatchable’

Apr 8, 2014, 9:37 AM EDT

Vancouver Canucks head coach John Tortorella looks at the scoreboard in the final second of the third period NHL action against the Anaheim Ducks in Vancouver, Monday, April 7, 2014. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jonathan Hayward) AP

John Tortorella has a reputation for his fiery confrontations with the press. That was something he wanted to move away from when he took the head coaching job with the Vancouver Canucks, although that didn’t stop him from accusing his critics of ignorance when it comes to playing style the team is trying to execute.

But after the Canucks were officially eliminated from the playoffs courtesy of a lackluster performance against Anaheim, Tortorella wasn’t in the mood to come out swinging.

He conceded that the Canucks didn’t play well enough last night, but he otherwise politely refused to criticize them.

“It doesn’t do anybody any good right now to be critical,” Tortorella said.

After all, the damage is done. If Tortorella is to be fired this summer — and there’s certainly a contingent that’s pushing for that — nothing he says or does now is likely to change that.

Instead Tortorella talked about giving some of the team’s young players, like goaltender Jacob Markstrom, a shot. Essentially kicking off the team’s 2014-15 evaluation process early because these last games have about as much meaning to Vancouver now as training camp contests.

Meanwhile, the criticism of his performance continues to mount. Per Vancouver Province columnist Tony Gallagher:

When Canucks coach John Tortorella called a time out early in the second period and assembled his troops, you have to wonder what he told them.

Whatever was said, it was clear this group is absolutely done with the fellow and any thoughts of bringing him back should be banished permanently because any attempt to sell this unwatchable crap next season will result in the total evacuation of Rogers Arena.

Just one more week of this and then the Canucks’ intentions will slowly start to become apparent.


Gillis says his comments weren’t a shot at Torts

  1. nyeagles10 - Apr 8, 2014 at 10:03 AM

    same old john.. running yourself out of town again.

  2. patthehockeyfan - Apr 8, 2014 at 10:17 AM

    Jeez, Dadoun! Torts really ruffled your feathers, didn’t he? Not you personally; but, the media establishment in Vancouver. This isn’t the first time Tony Gallagher was the subject of a PHT piece. The same Tony Gallagher who fancies himself a coach, and who wrote in March: “Now let’s be clear, this is exactly what a coach should do with a young offensive player like Jensen … ”

    Since when did journalists become the story? Even the headline here: “columnist calls team’s style ‘unwatchable'”. That’s news? What a columnist said?

    I appreciate the information you and the rest of the PHT bloggers provide. I use the term ‘bloggers’ because that’s how I’ve seen a couple of you described. I studied journalism, though, and what a journalist says about a story … isn’t the story.

  3. frantzy13 - Apr 8, 2014 at 10:38 AM

    I think Tony writes for the Province not the Sun

  4. stcrowe - Apr 8, 2014 at 10:43 AM

    I am not a Tortorella fan, but Gillis is the bigger reason that the Canucks have turned into a mess. He is in way over his head. I can understand if Tortorella gets fired, but Gillis has to pay the price for his own incompetence at some point.

  5. pigpen1013 - Apr 8, 2014 at 10:48 AM

    As a longtime fan of the a Canucks, I can say with fairly decent credibility that what Tony Gallagher is saying in the Province newspaper and on TV just about everyday is a pretty good reflection of how the fans feel.

    I’m more inclined to place the blame for how this season has turned out evenly between the coaching staff, the GM, and injuries to all of the top line players, but I would go as far as saying that I think the way the Luongo situation played out is the biggest story this season. Between that and trading Schneider at the draft, I think Gillis has to go. He took a perennial cup contender and turned them into a team with no offense, very little defense, and no starting goalie. That being said, if they bring in a more competent GM and Torts can’t get it done next season they should fire him too.

  6. blomfeld - Apr 8, 2014 at 11:00 AM


    Anyone here with only half a brain could clearly see that this was ‘exactly’ what it was all coming to for Vancouver. As for those with four legs who like to say things like baa ? … well that’s a whole different story.


    blomfeld – Nov 1, 2013 at 3:18 PM

    And why then is Luongo constantly smiling these days ?

    Leftist Coast – In all seriousness friend, haven’t you noticed lately how virtually every picture here at PHT features a happy ‘smiling’ Luongo ? Now I’m obviously not a scientist or anything, however I am savvy enough to know that in nature the ‘last’ thing you do when facing a ‘smiling’ creature is to let your guard down ! Whether it’s a hot chick, a dog, a monkey or some demented fish in a lake, presentation of the teeth is a ‘basic & primal’ expression of threat or impending danger. And failure to respect this unmistakeable warning sign in nature is often at the peril of those or are so ignorant and/or naive.

    Look friend, I’m a lifelong Vancouver resident here and I’ve been watching the Canucks since Day 1 (which was a 3-1 LA victory by the way) and therefore despite being an ardent King’s fan today, I will forever have a soft spot for you guys and I will always ‘watch your back’ so to speak. As you likely know, while love for a team like love for a woman is often marvelous and all-consuming, it can also be intoxicating and extremely ‘blinding’ to the truth. The bottom line as I see it, is that Luongo is an unscrupulous ‘manipulator’ who’s setting you guys up for a terrific ‘heart break’ in the not too distant future. And there’s simply no way I’m going to just stand by here and say nothing to you people ! … no way …

  7. marcedge - Apr 8, 2014 at 11:01 AM

    patthehockeyfan, you may have studied journalism, but I teach the subject. You should have learned that the lede for any story should focus on the most significant and interesting aspect of it. I am also a former colleague of Mr. Gallagher on the sports staff at the Province. He has been covering the team for the past 40 years or so and is the most unabashedly critical and honest analyst of the team. If he says that the team’s play is “unwatchable crap,” that is a significant statement. It is also one with which I wholeheartedly agree. As a lifelong Canucklehead, I watch every game on NHL Gamecenter from my new home in California. I actually turned the game off last night, however, when the score got to 3-0. It certainly was unwatchable crap. Mr. Gallagher’s assessment of it as such is exactly correct and, more importantly, signals that something’s gotta give, and soon. Torts spent his entire career, prior to coming to Vancouver, coaching in the Eastern Conference, where there is a different style of play and teams do not have to deal with the crushing travel that teams, especially in Western Canada, have to endure. He does not seem to have adjusted to these realities and will have to do so if he is to continue as our bench boss. I certainly agree with his desire for players who will be more abrasive and assertive, and I wish that Gillis could acquire such players. His trading and drafting record (ie. lack of depth) is probably the biggest factor in the team’s poor showing since January. Perhaps he should be the one to go. At least Torts has won a Stanley Cup. I believe he could do so in Vancouver given the right mix of players. There is enough talent on the team. There is not enough grit.

    • patthehockeyfan - Apr 8, 2014 at 11:11 AM

      Thanks, and well put, marcedge. Your analysis of the team’s problems are clear.

      I disagree, though, that what a columnist says about the team should be the lead for a story, no matter his/her credentials, and no matter how significant a statement the columnist’s opinion is (‘significant’ in your opinion).

      The team’s problems are the story, not a columnist’s opinion.

      • marcedge - Apr 8, 2014 at 11:32 AM

        Well, we’ll just have to agree to disagree on that. This is a blog, after all, and not a newspaper of record. I think we can agree that something’s gotta be done. The team has gone stale since our run to the Cup finals three years ago. The window is closing fast. They have to change the mix in a major way. Kesler and Edler could thrive elsewhere, but they are not going to do so in Vancouver and could bring some major pieces in return. We certainly shouldn’t give them away, but it seems that Gillis tends to be a bit too stubborn in demanding a high asking price. Here’s a thought — what could we get for them as a package? Not draft picks, please. We need reinforcements . . . quick!

    • habsmansboyfriend - Apr 8, 2014 at 5:29 PM

      Those who can’t do, teach……..
      “Torts spent his entire career, prior to coming to Vancouver, coaching in the Eastern Conference”…….
      No he didn’t. Look it up.

  8. muckleflugga - Apr 8, 2014 at 11:47 AM


    as a student of journalism i’m sure you had to join writers throughout the english speaking world and wrassle with terms including the medium is the message … still largely misunderstood

    hoooooooooooooo t hoooooooooooooooooo

    though volumes have been written on mcluhan’s postulate, its central tenet argues content of any medium is always another medium … bloggers piece together samplings of ideas and arguments from a dazzling array of media while developing a thread in their own arguments … conveyed in the present through cyber space

    building message through medium … dadoun’s using gallagher’s piece among others to create tension and room for resonating discussion … through function of individual thought and occasionally beyond in our participation offering ideas in response through commentary

    our commentary greatly enriches a collecting transaction as we become implicitly engaged as medium builds the message further and further and further … variables in medium and message are staggering to consider were we to ascribe chaos theory to these processes …

    understanding how energy developing and evolving in our transactions shape time and space in our private realms by influencing everything and everyone we interact with after having been changed in continuing dialogue in these boards … the butterfly effect

    [ much the same as arguing with one’s cat and being occasionally permitted to win changes our world ]

    follow dadoun’s thread on canucks back eleven hours or so and you’ll see reference to the term meme –defined at– and you’ll approach an explanation of how much of mcluhan’s argument might apply in corollary

    using gallagher is not only valid the practise models behaviour essential to blogging … i have no argument with gallagher’s position beyond problems apparent with tense and his misspelling of reveen’s name … this while understanding gallager himself may be posturing in style to accommodate a perceived audience

    take it a step further reading halford’s blog on jesper fast a day ago … read davebabychreturns opening salvo in reference to godwin’s law … it’s brilliant for a number of reasons beyond the law postulated by godwin because

    it demonstrates in definitive terms how blogging, as medium in message, bore fruit by compelling dave to post a relatively complex idea from invitation clearly seeded by halford in his piece after-which

    all the word nerds herein including myself scrambled to seek meaning in godwin while attempting to put the idea to practical use when understanding recursive forms as they evolve in blog and commentary synergies … with the most obvious thread killers per godwin being

    long-winded fools with too much time on their hands who like to lay-down fertile fields of bulls hit … no sireeee, they annoy me most

    dadoun and gallagher are cool … go with the flow children

    hoooooooooooooo t hoooooooooooooooooo ha agh hack caagh gaaaw haaaa ck

    wow todally harsh

  9. pastabelly - Apr 8, 2014 at 12:03 PM

    What kind of GM trades Schneider before the season, Luongo at the deadline, and then expects his head coach to do much better with Eddie Lack? If the players cannot the coach, it’s more of a commentary on the franchise than the coach, who has been an NHL coach for a substantial amount of time and has had a decent amount of success.

    • nobandwagoners - Apr 8, 2014 at 12:19 PM

      IMO, the whole organization is a mess – starting from the ownership (in particular their level of involvement in Gillis’ management of the team), right through Gillis (he does have to shoulder a fair share of the blame even if the Acquilini’s meddle in his running of the team) and Torts (sorry, but the Sedins shouldn’t be on the ice all the time for every situation; be more strategic in using them as they’re not 20 year old’s anymore).

      Maybe the whole organizational slide over the last 2 years has finally hit rock bottom and maybe, just maybe some lessons will be learned? Ever hopeful (a common, annual refrain for Canuck fans).

      • imleftcoast - Apr 8, 2014 at 1:57 PM

        Direction is the question facing the franchise. Gillis introduced that last Thursday, and Tony’s piece is advocating for choosing one path. Standing behind Tortorella and building a team around his ‘system’ is a project of years.

        Does ownership want to put that product on the ice for five or six years – chip and chase, shot block, play two or three lines? Or will ownership back Gillis, let him pick a coach and go back to the system from last season? That’s today’s question – no Canucks fan would be focused on Luongo, Schneider, Edler or Kesler. The question is the direction the team will take for the remainder of this decade.

  10. feedmetherock - Apr 8, 2014 at 12:24 PM

    Traded away both starting goalies by the deadline. Gave the Sedin twins way too much money (heaven forbid they actually have to play on separate teams from one another). Refused to give up Kesler at the deadline (maybe the situation gets better at the draft and the haul is much better). Torts has his flaws, but giving him one season doesn’t do anybody any good. Just sets things back further.

    Hire a competent GM that can get Torts the guys he needs to implement his system. AV and Torts run completely different systems, so thinking that Torts was just going to come in and turn this roster into magic, was extremely short-sited. It was like find a square peg for a round hole. Now the next GM needs to get that hack saw and turn the round hole into a square hole so Torts can be succesful with the talent he needs to implement his system. Kesler, Sedins, and Burrows are all declining rather rapidly in their skill level. So they need to infuse this roster with talent. Move Kesler for a boat load of picks at the draft. Maybe move the Sedins for some young guys to build around. Torts can actually get a young team to play really good hockey and he can get them all to run through a wall for him. It is usually once the team matures and starts to get up there in age. That is when he struggles, because the antics fall on deaf ears. He is the right man for a rebuild, just get him some young talent.

  11. patthehockeyfan - Apr 8, 2014 at 12:25 PM

    Winning teams are a combination of talent and chemistry. While I could point to several football and basketball teams successes, what is most prominent in my mind is the LA Kings’ 2012 SC team (full disclosure: I’m a Kings’ fan).

    Dean Lombardi put together players from disparate sources to build the Kings in 2012. One cannot dismiss the fact that they had (and have) a world-class goalie in Jonathan Quick; but, my point is that everything needs to be clicking. Everything. Ownership, general management, coaching, players.

    This year, Vancouver had the wrong chemistry. It began at the top. If ever there was dysfunction in ownership, management and coaching, it’s here.

    I feel bad for the players and fans in Vancouver. They didn’t deserve this crap. It’s almost heartbreaking to look at the cover photo for an earlier PHT article: “Canucks’ Bieksa admits missing playoffs ‘isn’t a familiar feeling.'”

    The owners, management and coaching are to blame for this debacle, and owe everyone an apology. And, they owe everyone a change – this time, for the better.

  12. wishingtonredslur - Apr 8, 2014 at 12:44 PM

    How did the Canucks go from consistent playoff contender mode to emergency landing mode in 2 years? Crazy.

  13. muckleflugga - Apr 8, 2014 at 1:33 PM


    i appreciate your argument but had kings not hired darryl sutter, they’d have gassed it regardless of front office personnel and players in the day … we are reminded it took sutter some time to get kings in full gear, accelerating into the playoffs and beyond

    all coach

    without sutter’s intervation king’s may have found their situation then mirroring canucks’ now

    the issue in vancouver isn’t as dire as it would appear … gillis delivered considerable harm, but there are still some pretty good hockey players in vancouver, simply lacking strong and believable coaching … as indicated by marcedge, tortorella was and is and will remain a mistake should he stay following his system in its current form

    i would not bet a dime against a healthy canucks team, benefitting from fresh coaching, returning to the top of the table next season … this season is an anomaly

    • patthehockeyfan - Apr 8, 2014 at 1:38 PM

      “… but, my point is that everything needs to be clicking. Everything. Ownership, general management, coaching, players.”

      I wasn’t going to name every individual. Sutter’s late addition to the Kings was part of the entire chemistry. It ALL has to work. Together.

  14. marcedge - Apr 8, 2014 at 1:55 PM

    Here’s the guy we need. He helped the Flyers turn their season around after they re-acquired him from Colorado. He’s only 27 and is a UFA this summer. He could likely be had for $3.5 million a year for 3-4 years.

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