Warning Shots: Canucks and Rangers fans Discuss Early Days of Torts/Vigneault

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Updated: September 21, 2013
New York Rangers v Vancouver Canucks
*co-authored with Ken Hill*

Two of our writers here at Last Word on Sports have been exchanging emails this week.  Since their respective favourite clubs have pretty much traded coaches, we figured it might be amusing to hack in and spy on the on-going conversation periodically, with their permission of course.  Here’s the first of what will be a weekly instalment:

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Dear Ken,

How are things with your new coach, John Tortorella?  Has he caused any players cardiac arrest yet?

I heard that he played Ryan Kessler 26 minutes in a pre-season game.  Unfortunately, that is going to be the norm.  Although, the Rangers developed some amazing players in the time while Torts was coach, he also seemed to enjoy causing great pain.  For instance, the Rangers are most likely going to start the 13/14 schedule without Ryan Callahan and Carl Hagelin. Why?  Matching shoulder surgeries.

Have the Sedin twins learned how to block shots yet?  That’s also a prerequisite for playing on a Torts’ squad.  Look for the stop-drop-and-roll if you catch a televised practice.  Remember that moment that your team used to score a lot of goals?  That will probably be a thing of the past, too.  He tried to fit Rick Nash into a defensive shell game.  We all know how that worked out.

On the good side, Roberto Luongo is going to have a great year!

Cheers, Mick

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Hey Mick!

Thanks for your concern about Torts – that guy must have really done a number on you over the years! I can’t really complain if any of our players has a heart attack, it’s better than being comatose every game.

Hadn’t you heard about Alain Vigneault‘s coaching style yet? As near as I can tell it was to lull the other team to sleep and then pounce on a scoring chance. That might be well and good playing against the dregs like Calgary on a cold December night, but it certainly doesn’t work in the playoffs. I’d much rather have a coach that kicked our player’s butts than one that let them do pretty much anything they want.

But I guess that should work out pretty good in New York, right? I hear that country clubs are a big thing over there, I’m sure that Nasher and Brad Richards will be nice and comfy. After all, when a player is making more than $6 million, you’ve got to treat them carefully!

Oh, and don’t worry about the Sedins blocking shots, both are fully on board with being more rounded players. What you should be worrying about however is the young guys on your roster. You see, Vigneault wasn’t exactly known for his ability to use young talent effectively (unless you count Cody Hodgson, which you totally shouldn’t). It’s not like young players matter in the NHL anymore anyways, so I’m sure you’ll be fine.

Cheers, Ken

P.S. Yeah, I think Luongo is going to be great too!

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Ken,

Country clubs aren’t all that big in New York City.  That’s more of a Long Island thing.

Good thing that most of the young-uns moved to the big club.  I don’t know how closely you follow the East Coast teams, but you may have heard of Ryan McDonough, Dan Girardi, Ryan Callahan, and Derek Stepan.  Of course Stepan is still not signed, but that’s the business! Alain Vigneault seems to like a few of our young studs. He already has a fun nickname for one of them: Danny “Monte” Kristo. Gotta say, I like light and airy rather than Atlantic Gulag.  Seemed like at the end, some of the Rangers would have rather been doing a stint in Gitmo.

A friend of mine, who had just gotten into the Rangers via a significant other, made the following observation about Torts’ Rangers – they play most of the game in their own end, and Henrik Lundvist is an amazing goalie.  So it sounds like you guys are used to that – at least you had the scoring chances.  Under Torts’ “defense or death” system, blocked shots became a big stat. Maybe they’ll tilt the ice slightly in favor of the Canucks to help out with that! Has Luongo actually committed to playing in Vancouver after the whole Schneider/Luongo drama?  Seems to me Mike Gillis missed the day they spent teaching player relations.  And that should fit in very nicely with Tortorella’s way of handling things.

Do the hockey press people in Vancouver have thick skins?  They might want to grow some scar tissue from self-flagellation.  Also, they might want to brush up on boxing.  Torts almost came to blows with a local reporter here on several occasions.  Now, that guy is kind of a doucher too, but you get my point.  I would recommend they wear protective headgear during post-season pressers.

Cheers, Mick

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Mick,

Seems to me that you have much to learn about Vancouver buddy! Sure, we’ve got a relaxed atmosphere, a very liberal viewpoint on things…but that doesn’t apply to our hockey club. There’s only so many seasons that you can stand watching a forward lazily fight for a puck along the boards or a defenseman not boxing out the front of the net before you get sick and tired of it.

If there’s been one knock on the Canucks since their run in 2011, it’s that there is no passion. No desire. No grit or tenacity. Sounds like Torts has all those things in spades, and we welcome that with open arms! What you so eloquently paint as a negative is exactly what the doctor ordered in my books. I admit, it’s possible that Vigneault’s devil-may-care attitude will be a breath of fresh air in the Rangers locker room, but I’m sure you won’t be liking it once he’s getting out-coached in the first round of the playoffs.

As for the media, you really shouldn’t be bothered about it. You’re making it seem as though the media wasn’t a circus in Vancouver until Torts arrived! The organization has been putting up with the rabid media base for years, and they know how to deal with those annoying questions that are sure to come when Torts flies off the handle. You worry too much, we’re going to be just fine.

Also, is that a bit of resentment I’m sensing towards Roberto Luongo? Maybe even jealousy? True, Lundqvuist may have more Vezina wins, but Lou is going to absolutely thrive under this new system in front of him. If any single player is going to benefit from Tortorella coming in, it’s going to be Luongo. You might want to worry about Hank though a little bit though. Vigneault is famous for not exactly being knowledgeable when it comes to goalies. After all, when you’re saying to the press that you’re going to flip a coin to determine your starter, joke or not, that doesn’t exactly instil confidence in the fan base.

I guess when it comes right down to it, we’re both getting a bit of what we want in this coach trade. How does that old saying go? Hate to see you go, but love to watch you leave? Okay, maybe that applies to a different situation, but it isn’t far off base. Enjoy your new coach Mick my friend, because we certainly will!

Cheers!

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Check back once a week as we take a look at how this progresses!

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