John is “Torts” what the Canucks need
By Josh Martin, Sports Editor
He’s obnoxious, arrogant, in-your-face, and will yell at you every chance he gets. Meet John Tortorella, the new head coach of the Vancouver Canucks.
You may already know him from numerous YouTube videos of scuffles with the media or most notably through HBO’s 24/7 series, which shows a behind-the-scenes look at his team with the New York Rangers on the road to the Winter Classic against the Philadelphia Flyers. This man drops “F” bombs left, right, and centre—and is exactly what this spoiled, country club Canucks organization needs.
At the press conference last Tuesday where the Canucks announced their new head coach, Torts showed off his good side. He answered the large mass of media questions and expressed his excitement and passion in coaching in a Canadian city. He addressed his past problems with the media and stated that he needs to work on it. And he did this all in a charming and honest demeanour.
With GM Mike Gillis hiring Torts, a lot of reports were saying that it’s a high risk move. But is it really? What other serious candidates out there have won a Stanley Cup? Eakins of the AHL Toronto Marlies had numerous interviews with Canucks management before the Edmonton Oilers went ahead and hired him. LA Kings Assistant Coach John Stevens was another strong candidate, as well as Scott Arniel of the Chicago Wolves and Lindy Ruff who coached the Buffalo Sabres for the past 15 seasons. But none of these coaches have won a Stanley Cup before as a Head Coach in the NHL. The only coach on the market who has gone all the way is Tortorella in 2004 with the Tampa Bay Lightning. So wouldn’t this make him the best candidate?
His abrasive-yelling coaching style has been ridiculed as a style that doesn’t work in today’s NHL because players tend to eventually tune out the voice yelling. But after seven seasons of not getting reamed out by former coach Alain Vigneault, this may be exactly what the team needs.
Torts is coming to a team that arguably only has two years left with the current core group of players to win a Stanley Cup. The window of opportunity is shrinking with the Sedin twins turning 33 this September, Kevin Bieksa and Alex Burrows at 32, Dan Hamhuis turning 31 this December, and Roberto Luongo at the age of 34. Only Ryan Kesler, Alex Edler, and Jason Garrison are under 30, which is something of a concern for the organization.
Cue Tortorella. With a five-year contract signed, tons of pressure rides on him to get the job done with ‘X’ amount of time left. He’s the clear candidate and the best possible coach for this aging Vancouver Canucks team. However, he’ll need some help from Gillis in bringing in some missing pieces to complete the roster, as the current team showed over the last two seasons that they’re not yet good enough.
Brash head coach a bad choice
By Eric Wilkins, Staff Writer
Vancouver is a fickle city when it comes to the Vancouver Canucks. Rough patches lead to fans scurrying into hiding, and playoff runs bring out the bandwagoners from holes in the ground. The one thing that Vancouver can always be counted on for is to be obvious in its desires. This off-season, there was a fairly strong buzz in the city around hiring John Tortorella as the new head coach; the child cried for the toy and the caving parent, Gillis, obliged.
Gillis and the rest of the top brass were definitely influenced by public opinion. Since the infamous Cody Hodgson trade, Gillis doesn’t seem to have the stones to make any real moves. Tortorella was the easy pick here. Entertainment-wise, Tortorella will be great. He’ll be worth every rounded nickel. A Vancouver media starving for a non-vanilla personality and a man who does nothing but churn out quotes? It’s a match made in heaven.
Tortorella came out in his first press conference as a completely different man. He was calm and courteous and seemed genuine when he voiced his intention to change the rude, impatient image he’s come to be known for. It’s wonderful and he probably means it, but it won’t last. When everyone makes New Year’s resolutions, they go in with the intention of actually following through; they mean to do what they say. However, for some reason or another it becomes too much of an effort, and by the end of a few months, the resolution is all but dead in the water. That’s exactly what Tortorella’s press conference was: a New Year’s resolution.
Tortorella’s style simply won’t match up with Vancouver’s roster. He may be alright for a season but not much beyond that. One of the reasons he’s been successful in the past is because of the relatively young age of the core group of his teams. In 2001, he had Vincent Lecavalier, Brad Richards, Pavel Kubina, Dan Boyle, Vinny Prospal, and Martin St. Louis—St. Louis and Prospal were the oldest at 26 years old. There were some veterans on that team like Dave Andreychuk, but it was mostly a younger squad that Tortorella got to mould. The results would show when they took home a Stanley Cup a few years later.
In New York, when the team reached the conference final, it was a fairly young group again. Richards and Gaborik aside, the points were coming mainly from a number of fresher faces: the likes of Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan, Derek Stepan, Ryan McDonagh, Michael Del Zotto and Artem Anisimov. It wasn’t as star-studded a team, but it was impressionable enough that Tortorella could make it his. The squad was noticeably less successful this season because of the stink Richards and Gaborik started to make, but Tortorella’s act was also wearing a little thin.
Looking at Vancouver’s roster and based on Tortorella’s history, this hiring is doomed to fail. Vancouver isn’t a team of kids. The Canucks are an old crew. Alex Edler aside, the core group is mostly all close to or over 30. It’s difficult to see much of the lineup, specifically the Sedins, responding positively to an incessant stream of shouting, especially after the atmosphere that Vigneault brought to the table. Tortorella may work out for a time, but the breath of fresh air he’s supposed to be will quickly turn stale if he doesn’t find a way to adapt his coaching style to his new team.