Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Canucks set to retool with Tortorella

The Vancouver Canucks introduced the 17th head coach of their NHL existence, the latest of the line that Vancouver fans hope will find the ingredients to bring a Stanley Cup parade to Vancouver's streets if not in the next season, within years rather than decades.

John Torotorella, who apparently spent most of the weekend talking hockey with everyone from custom's agents to passers by on the street, was on the podium on Tuesday, set to take questions from the Vancouver media, who prior to Tuesday's session had seemingly spent time reviewing old Larry Brooks' columns from the New York Post exploring the past for possible themes of the present and future.

Alas, it was a somewhat chastened John Tortorella that disarmed the Vancouver media, taking ownership of his recent media woes from the opening moments of the press conference, a fairly significant thing for a fellow most viewed as pretty mercurial at times and a step that for day one at least had the media for the most part ready to give him the time to take the reins of the Canucks.

There would be no You Tube additions of angry John to be made from Tuesday's press conference, Torotrella, was charming, engaged in talking hockey and most importantly for Canuck fans (and the players as well) said all the right things about what could be anticipated from the season to come.

He wants the players to give a little bit more, be accountable (not only to him but to each other it would seem) mentioned the star attractions of the Twins suggesting that they will see more ice time ahead and had best begin practicing the art of blocking shots.

He couldn't of course comment on much of the lineup, the Western conference this past year had about as much coverage in the East as the KHL does, though he clearly understands one of the key things about being a western team, travel and the recuperation time required of it.

Torotorella didn't have any thoughts on the main storyline of Vancouver's year, that being the goal tending situation, the only discussion point he offered up being that he thought that the Canucks handled the situation well, which we imagine was the correct thing to say, even if most believe it's a wee bit of a stretch.

And while he and Alain Vigneault apparently exchanged Coles' Notes with each other on their prospective employers over the last few weeks, it was clear to those viewing the press conference that there will be a change of dynamic behind the bench when training camp opens.

The Canucks as fortune would have it and despite themselves, found what may be the right coach at the right time. While few have held Alain Vigneault responsible for the failed playoff ambitions of the last two seasons, the current collective it seems had become a little too comfortable under his leadership. If Coach V  had made steps to grab their attention, they clearly went unheeded in the last year.

That won't be a problem we imagine for Tortorella, who brings a passion to the bench perhaps not seen since Pat Quinn led the Canucks on their own Stanley Cup path, which interestingly enough took them through New York City.

Of the available coaches of the moment, Torotorella perhaps offers up the best opportunity for a quick refocus of the core group of Canucks. He will need additions to the lineup (as Vigneault would have benefitted from) and that falls on the shoulders of GM Mike Gillis, who didn't do his former coach any favours over the last season.

The first task again, like it was last year this time, is to decide on the status of Roberto Luongo/Corey Schneider, the soap opera like moments of the last season can't carry on much longer, Gillis needs to move on from that as soon as possible.

If he's looking for a fresh start with his new coach, he had best start delivering some tools to make that step. The main problem for Vancouver over the last season, beyond the Luongo mess, was an inability to add the right piece to the puzzle at the right time, until the GM gets that timing right, it doesn't matter who stands behind the bench.

In his press conference, the new coach touched on his anticipation of coaching in a Canadian city, something he had apparently thought about for a long time now.

More than once he pointed towards the Chicago Blackhawks and what they did, how they sacrificed to win a Stanley Cup, a mention that sets the right tone for what he hopes to achieve in Vancouver. If you're looking for a blue print for a Stanley Cup quest, that's as good a place as any to  study up on.

He understands the passion that the game has above the 49th, a passion that he will bring to the table, one side of that passion (the more mercurial of the media outbursts) apparently to be reined in from days past.

Tortorella has always been more than the sideshow of media showdowns that he became known for over the last year or so.  Over his time behind a bench, he's always been a pretty successful coach, has a winning record and does have possession of a Stanley Cup ring.

With his hiring, he offers up a chance for this group of Vancouver Canucks to show that they are ready to push for that next step in the quest for a Stanley Cup. He also brings the ability to bring along younger players, something he had great success with in New York, for the Canucks to remain a consistent performer in the NHL West, that will be a key ingredient to whatever success he may have in Vancouver.

With a five year contract in hand, if the players don't buy in to what Tortorella will be asking, we imagine they'll be gone long before he is.

Likewise, if the GM doesn't put together a lineup that the coach can work with, the new hire may outlast the guy that hired him on Tuesday.

Last week the Vancouver media seemed to be anticipating the Apocalypse, even before Tortorella had signed on the dotted line.

Van Province--  Tortorella would keep things lively, but the Canucks already have the Melanson sideshow
Van Province-- Gillis' choice of sizzle over safety in new Canucks coach is consistent with his mission to win it all now
Van Province-- Canucks' hiring of John Tortorella feels an awful lot like Mike Keenan 2.0
Van Sun-- Testy Tortorella would bring Cup ring, verbal sting, plenty of experience to Canucks
Van Sun-- Nothing routine about Torts' stand-up
Van Sun-- John Tortorella: Canucks GM's guy or the owner's guy?

Tuesday, for the most part found the Tortorella sessions an enjoyable experience for the Vancouver media congregation, who were quick to take in the Tao of Torts and recount their impressions accordingly.

Van Province-- Torts wants to create "team" concept
Van Province-- "We need some more bite," says Torts as he vows to push the Canucks
Van Province-- Do your darndest Torts... let's talk in January and see if everyone is still friends
Van Province-- Tortorella plays nice in opening act
Van Province-- Sedins will be penalty killers, says Torts - and Henrik approves
Van Province-- Maybe the Canucks do need someone to crack the whip, but do they really need the Sedins killing penalties
Vancouver Province-- Canucks' give new coach Torts a head start
Van Sun-- Torts aiming to soften image, harden team
Van Sun-- John Totorella's winner of a day: Going to the dogs, vowing to put some "bite" into Canucks
Van Sun-- Canucks' new coach John Tortorella impressed GM Mike Gillis with attitude, preparation, technical knowledge
Van Sun-- Canucks need 'good cop' assistant for 'bad cop' Tortorella, says former player of fiery coach
Van Sun-- Canuck players can expect dressing room visits from 'fair, honest'  John Tortorella
Van Sun-- Who is John Tortorella? Start with toughness, tenacity
Postmedia News-- New bench boss John Tortorella brings baggage into role with Vancouver Canucks
Canadian Press-- Kinder, gentler John Tortorella introduced as Vancouver Canucks' new head coach

Though, perhaps secretly a little disappointed that they weren't able to grab some You Tube time from the opening session of the Tortorella years.

For the fans, delivering a Stanley Cup will trump any anticipated media battles, as tantalizing as those might be.

If the players can take their game to the level expected of their new coach, the next few seasons may provide for a different ending than the previous two have.

If not, well, keep your eye on You Tube we guess...

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