Tortorella follows Gillis out the door
By Eric Wilkins, Sports Editor
Tortn. Law, a breach of duty (other than under contract) for which damages can be obtained in a civil court by the person wronged.
Torts n. Hockey, the nickname of former Vancouver Canucks head coach John Tortorella, who was signed to bring the team glory but failed ignominiously.
The Tortorella experiment is over, and with it another opportunity to make a deep run this aging roster could ill-afford to waste. The hiring was a move criticized by many from the start, and the naysayers, as seems to generally be the case with this team, were right. Yes, injuries played no small part in the miserable season put forth by the ‘nucks, but the lasting image from the year has to be an indignant Tortorella trying time and time again to ram a round peg through a square hole: the classic “it’s not working; don’t change it” strategy.
And gone before Torts was the man who hired him: Mike Gillis—the man responsible for the decimation of a once-dominant hockey club. “Mike’s a friend of mine. I worry about him and I worry about his family,” said Tortorella; don’t worry, I’m sure he’ll be fine with his $8-million severance package. But while we can blame Gillis for a great number of things, it’s possible the Tortorella signing at least wasn’t on his shoulders. Who were the ones pushing for Torts to be the new bench boss? The fans? A bit, but Gillis never cared about public opinion (see: Hodgson). No, soft Mike may have been the figurehead that pulled the trigger, but it was the Aquilinis who were clearly providing the impetus for the hire.
It makes one wonder just how deep the Aquilinis’ meddling hands were in the Canucks’ affairs. Owners, for all intents and purposes, exist to bankroll hockey teams and maybe provide a quote or two on occasion. They are not to trade players. They are not to hire coaches. They are not to tell the team how to play. In short, anything hockey-related that they’re involved with is already too much. Just how many of “Gillis’” poor decisions were actually his we may never know. However, if there’s one thing that owners appreciate, it’s loyalty. Even though Torts coming to town was obviously not his call, Gillis never let out a peep; that alone may land him a job.
In the meantime, the costly releases of both Gillis and Tortorella may be serving notice to the fact that the Aquilinis are set to turn over a new leaf and leave the hockey to the hired professionals. Dishing out $16 million for a fresh slate is about as close as one can get to admitting a mistake was made without outright saying it. And who better to lead the rejuvenated charge than Trevor Linden? One of the most respected players in the franchise’s history certainly won’t let himself be manipulated. If he’s to tarnish his reputation on a series of poor moves, you can be guaranteed that they will be his poor moves.