Reports are swirling that John Tortorella is Mike Gillis’ choice as new head coach of the Vancouver Canucks. It is being reported across the twittersphere that the two sides are currently working out financial terms, but that the job appears to be Tortorella’s, as he replaces Alain Vigneault. In an interesting twist Vigneault now has Tortorella’s old job in New York.
Tortorella was hired by the Rangers in 2009, and was fired after the Rangers playoff loss this spring. The Rangers, a preseason cup pick for many, had a disappointing year, finishing 6th in the NHL’s Eastern conference and losing in the 2nd round to the Boston Bruins. In 2011-12 Tortorella led the team to a first place finish in the East, but eventually lost in the Conference Final to the rival New Jersey Devils.
He came to the team after a stint on the TSN hockey panel, and following his firing as head coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning. He won the Stanley Cup as head coach of the Lightning in 2004.
Tortorella takes over a Canucks team that won the North West division, but disappointed in the playoffs, taking a 4 game sweep in the first round at the hands of the San Jose Sharks. The Canucks nucleus won the President’s trophy in 2010-11 and 2011-12, but was unable to win the Stanley Cup, losing in 7 games to Boston in 2011, and losing in the first round to Los Angeles in 2012.
The Canucks still have plenty of firepower with the Sedin twins, Ryan Kesler, Kevin Bieksa, Alex Burrows, Alex Edler, and most of their core under contract. This is a team that is built to win, and win now, and that is the task Tortorella will be given, to turn a playoff underachiever into a champion.
Tortorella has a reputation of being combative and difficult with the media, and his relationship with New York beat writer Larry Brooks was especially strained. It will be interesting to see how he deals with the Vancouver media in the coming season.
In New York, Tortorella relied on a defence first system that played tough hockey and blocked a lot of shots. His team was built around the style of goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. However in Tampa, Tortorella’s cup winning squad was built on the run and gun offence of Vinny Lecavalier, Brad Richards, Martin St. Louis, and Dan Boyle. It will be interesting to see what type of style he chooses to utilize with this Canucks’ roster.
Tortorella’s career record is 410 wins, 330 losses, 37 ties, 67 OT/SO losses for 924 points in 854 games. He has racked up 8 playoff appearances and 3 division titles in addition to his 1 Stanley Cup.
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