So Long, Farewell Torts

So long, farewell ,Torts.

So long, farewell ,Torts.

How many ways can one say this season was NOT picture perfect in any way? Well after over 3 weeks of fans waiting to hear will he or will he not be fired, the Vancouver Canucks made it official with the announcement that John Tortorella had been relieved of his coaching duties. Some people will be incredibly ecstatic about this news, some will be upset and some will likely not care at all.

The team released the follow press release (May 1, 2014):

Vancouver Canucks President of Hockey Operations Trevor Linden announced today that Head Coach John Tortorella and Assistant Coach Mike Sullivan have been relieved of their coaching duties.

“Today we are making an important change in the direction of our team,” said Linden. “On behalf of the entire organization, we extend our thanks to John, Mike and their families for their commitment to the Canucks and wish them the very best.”

“We have a lot of important work to accomplish this off-season as we build our management and coaching staff, improve our roster and connect with our fans,” added Linden. “Our General Manager search is well underway and we will begin assessing head coaching candidates immediately.”

I’m on the fence on this one as I genuinely like Torts. I know he’s not everyone’s cup of tea by any means and I didn’t always agree with him but I loved that he wasn’t afraid to stick up for his players or to tell the media how it is. I know that he made some mistakes (don’t all coaches?) but in a year that nearly his entire roster was bogged down by injuries to the point where we only had ONE month of the season that they were all healthy hardly seems enough to judge fairly on. I would have liked to see what would have happened with Torts if he was given the opportunity with a healthy roster. It was a year in which everything that could go wrong did and Torts being at the helm of the ship, is facing the brunt of the consequences. Torts may not have been perfect but he is not solely responsible for everything that went wrong this season with the team.

Torts is not the only coach who was relieved of his duties this season and he won’t be the last. The Canucks are not the only team in the search for a new coach but it is one more task added to their growing list of things to do in preparation for the new season around the corner. The Florida Panthers, Washington Capitals, and the Nashville Predators are also looking to fill coaching vacancies prior to next season. No coach no matter what their contract is ever safe from the being let go club. Most notably on this year’s just relieved NHL coach list is Barry Trotz. Barry Trotz saw his 15-year tenure with the Nashville Predators come to an end this year. There are many names the team can look at coaching wise: (John Stevens, Kevin Dineen, Peter Laviolette, etc.) and you can bet that Trotz will also be in that candidate mix. Time will tell if ANY of those names ends up being name as the Canucks head coach or if they will bring in someone else that no one has yet considered.

Love him or hate him, Torts has never been one afraid to speak his mind and he will find his way behind the bench of another NHL team again. One thing is certain, Canucks press conferences will never be the same again. There was never a  dull moment in his short tenure with the team but it is time to say so long, farewell to Torts and I wish him the best of luck in the future!

We’re in for many changes over the next months…are you ready for what all that will mean come October, Canucks fans?

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

 

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7TH Heaven

The Vancouver Canucks have now won 7 straight games. Hard to believe that just last month they couldn’t string together two wins in a row isn’t it? Let alone to think that since their loss to Chicago (Nov.23), the team has posted an impressive 8-1-1 record.

In their last 7 games, the Canucks have won road games and home games, posted back to back shutouts (1 by EACH goalie) and outscored their opponents 24-8. Let that sink in…the fact they have outscored their opponents by a 3-1 margin and only allowed 8 goals against during this 7-game stretch is impressive. Remember that power-play that everyone has complained about all year long…well don’t look now BUT in their last 15 games the Canucks have scored 12 power-play goals (yes you read that right…12!).

Here is the goal from Mr. Beast Mode himself Ryan Kesler that began the 7-game win streak:

Who would step to help the lead team to victory for their 2nd straight victory & 3rd in 4 games? Ryan Kesler steps up again with another 2-goal performance:

The trip finished with 3/4 victories and momentum that the team was determined to translate on home ice. After a disappointing result from their last home stand where they finished 1-2-3 in 6 games, the team made sure that this one had different results picking up 10/10 points in 5 games. That’s a pretty impressive feat considering that this latest home stand featured not ONE back to back games in back to back nights situation, but TWO. The second of those back to back scenarios included closing out the home stand with a game with the pesky Boston Bruins.

Who would be the team’s first challenge be in the 5-game saga? The Phoenix Coyotes presented a challenge for a team that was looking to take 2 points from a division rival. The home team looked great as they jumped out to a 2-goal lead that they carried into the 3rd period….BUT again the lead did not last as Phoenix came back to the tie the game forcing extra time. Over time at home had not been kind to the Canucks on their last home stand and they were determined to start this one off on a different tone.

Cue one very determined Chris Higgins with the OT winner as every Canuck fan breathed a sigh of relief.

Next up on the docket was the ever challenging Colorado Avalanche. Say what you will about Patrick Roy but the guy has succeeded at every level of the game he has played and coached at. The Avalanche brought a great challenge for the Canucks with their young talented core.

The Canucks would need someone to step up and step up Mike SANTA Santorelli did scoring TWICE and setting up Kesler’s game winning goal to help lead the team to a 3-1 victory.

Was it disappointing that the team gave up a goal to the Avs with 7.1 seconds left to ruin Luongo’s shutout bid or perhaps like many you believe John Garrett is too blame for saying the “S” word ON AIR before the final buzzer? Sure the shutout would have been nice, BUT despite those last 7 seconds, the team played a heck of a game to win their 4th straight game and earning an important 2 points.

Speaking of shutouts…Sweet Carolina came calling just one week after their previous tilt with the Canucks. The Hurricanes had been playing some great hockey leading up to their re-match with the Canucks. Eddie Lack made his home debut in front of a home crowd and dazzled them with his maturity in the game.

Chris Tanev scored the opening goal in this one as the Canucks did something in this game that they had not been able to do in previous games…maintain a 1-goal lead.

The team worked in hard in this one as they made sure as the clock was winding down to not let this one slip away, Jannik Hansen scored an empty net goal to seal this victory. Congratulations Eddie Lack, on posting your first career NHL shutout!

The Canucks had 3 days following the Carolina game before they would close out their 5-game home stand with 2 very different but equally important to the standings games against Edmonton and Boston.

How would Luongo respond after Lack’s shutout you ask? Why by posting his very own shutout of course. The entire team was solid from the first puck drop to the final puck drop. The team out shot the Oilers 40-19 and every line contributed a goal.

The game winning goal from a very nice #sedinery play on that suddenly revived power play:

Luongo has been solid all season long and after that debacle closing out the Colorado game, it was the nice that the team closed this game out for him. This was a game that the Canucks could have lost focus as they had a much bigger opponent coming in the next day BUT they never lost focus in this one.

The Vancouver Canucks closed out their home stand with a game against the Boston Bruins. It was just another game…OR so they said leading up to this game. It was not just any other game. The home crowd was the most electric and loudest they have been all season long, and very vocal in their dislike of the away team.

It was the just the second time the Canucks have met the Bruins since June 2011. Sure the rosters have changed slightly since that heated playoff battle, BUT the rivalry definitely still there.

Luongo faced the Bruins for the first time since the heartbreak of game 7. He was looking to help the team continue their winning ways, steal two points and end the Bruins win streak.

The Canucks opened the scoring on a Jannik Hansen goal from centre ice that took Rask by surprise and it was a lead they would take to the first intermission. Did I mention that Kesler and Jarome Iginla threw the gloves to help set the tone in this pesky affair? the The Bruins came out in the middle frame with determination to come back in this game…and come back they did as they controlled the first 5 minutes of play in the 2nd to tie the game.

Not exactly what the Canucks or Torts particularly wanted to do…once a team gives Boston momentum, they will always run away with it UNLESS you take it back. Did I mention Torts was NOT happy with the Canucks giving the momentum to Boston albeit briefly? Torts immediately called a timeout (something AV almost NEVER did)…and made it very clear to the team they needed to be better.

How did the team respond to the rant? David Booth..yes BOOTH put the home team up 2-1 just 1:30 after the TORTS pep talk. Not to be out done, the line of Kes & SANTO set up Higgins for a goal to put the team ahead 3-1 before the end of the 2nd period.

The third period would be interesting to see how the Canucks would carry themselves. The Bruins kept pushing BUT Luongo kept saying NO. Luongo made key saves and allowed the Canucks to keep momentum on their side which was aided by 3 more Canuck goals(yes 3 more goals!) to seal this game to the delight of the home fans. Two of their last three goals were special teams goals(1 power play, & 1 short-handed). The Bruins did get a second goal as they peppered Luongo with 41 shots on the night BUT the Canucks goal keeper was solid making 39 saves on the night.

The Vancouver Canucks defeated the Boston Bruins on this night and won their 7th straight game. Let that sink in…that is their longest win streak in 2 years. The Canucks are winning not just because Luongo has been incredibly solid(he’s been consistent all year long) but because the team is playing well as a TEAM from top to bottom as of late.

With an 8-1-1 record in their last 10 games. the team will be looking to build upon their recent success on the road. They have a tough 3-game road trip coming with stops in Minnesota, Chicago and Dallas that will be another great test for this team. It’s been a great month to watch the Canucks and I look forward to seeing how they close out 2013.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

October Blues…says WHO?!

The month of October and the Canucks usually do not go together or at least that’s story for the last 7 seasons or so. Octobers have statistically not been kind to the Canucks.

Cue the hiring of head coach John Tortorella and everyone arriving at their own ideas of how this will go[many thought automatic disaster]. The schedule was released and featured a league high 9 games on the road including a LONG 7-game road trip in the middle of the month. It seemed that the month was doomed before the first puck dropped.

Based on history being against the Canucks, the injury bug and the road heavy schedule, most people did not have high expectations for the start of the season and many stated that they would be happy to just survive October with a 0.500 level.

Torts made it clear from Day ONE that he hates losing and wanted to instill the will to win to all of the players. Torts changed the mindset that a lousy October is acceptable or expected but rather that you should put your best effort forward and not listen to the naysayers.

Torts asked for the star players to step up and step up they did. Here;s a list of accomplishments that do not usually come in October but this team accumulated this year:

-The Sedins combined for 33 points: Henrik amassed 18 points [3 goals, 15 assists] + Daniel with 15 points [6 goals, 9 assists]

-The 7-game road trip that scared fans saw the team pick up 11/14 points and post a 5-1-1 record.

-The road trip saw the re-emergence of  Ryan Kesler’s #beastmode who picked up 9 points on the road (he now has 11 points [8 goals, 3 assists]).

-Luongo posted his FIRST shutout of the season (63rd of his NHL career)

-Torts plays everyone on the PK and expects everyone to block shots. Did I also mention that Torts has split the Sedins up more than once and nearly every time it yields results.

– #BeastMododo was formed: Kesler + the Sedins

-The unexpected signings of Mike “SANTA” Santorelli and Brad Richardson have looked very good representing the Canucks scoring some clutch goals.

-Kesler was shifted from his usual position at centre to wing & has thrived.

Here’s a glance at October 2013 where your Vancouver Canucks posted an impressive 9-5-1 record:

What month is that you say? Yes it's true, October came & went with NO October blues.

What month is that you say? Yes it’s true, October came & went with NO October blues.

Was it perfect? No…but it was a much better October than everybody predicted them to be. Here’s to the Canucks having a November to remember as we shift to the second month of the season. An area that needs massive improvement as the calendar flips to November is the power play. Perhaps when the power plays starts clicking we will get to see more goals like this one:

The game-winning goal from Daniel Sedin vs. the Capitals was a product of some incredible #sedinery cycling. [*the video hardly does justice to this beauty of a goal]:

ONE LAST THOUGHT: 33 combined points in 15 games…CAN we re-sign the SEDINS already?!

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Toast to Torts

John Tortorella, the new head coach for your Vancouver Canucks!

John Tortorella: Head Coach for your Vancouver Canucks!

“One of my dreams … was hoping some day I could coach in Canada. To be with this team where it’s at … I couldn’t be more excited.” – Torts at his 1st official Canuck Press Conference

I know I am more than a little late to the party BUT I wanted to wait until closer to the season to post this. I believe it is fair to say that following a Q&A from the fans and his introduction to Vancouver media, John Tortorella had turned a lot of people from their preconceived notions regarding his demeanor. Everyone seemed to be expecting to see the man who hates losing and has put himself into hot water with his words but that was not the man who presented himself to the fans and this city [except of course, he still hates losing as do we all!]. Does he have a past and has he made mistakes? YES, hasn’t everyone?! Tortorella acknowledged from the get go of both interviews that he’s working to change that perception of himself and noted that he doesn’t want to put himself or the Canucks organization in a sticky situation.

Every SINGLE time he has addressed the media, EVERYTHING he has said is OVER analyzed. He recently made comments in regards to his dislike for twitter and that he does not want his players to use it too much or leak what’s happening within the locker room. Is it wrong of him to want to keep team dynamics private? I don’t think so. Shortly following what the media dubber his twitter tirade, during another media press conference a cameraman’s cell phone went off interrupting the conference causing Torts to threaten to walk if it happened again. Perhaps a little rash to walk out BUT recently the local media have had little or NO respect for the team.

For the first two pre-season games, Torts was not behind the Canucks bench but rather watching from above. Many commentators and fans alike disagreed with this decision. I liked the decision. By watching from above he could get a real sense of this team, the prospects and see what areas need to be addressed before the regular season begins come October 3rd.

Things are not going to be the same with Torts at the helm of this team and whatever perspective you had of him before is likely to change. He’s going to run a tight ship and the team will have to work hard BUT perhaps his style is what they need to get that extra push throughout the season and down the stretch drive.

Success can be hard to come by in any career but looking at the history of John Tortorella, one can see that he has achieved many success at every level of his coaching career. He has coached the AHL’s Rochester Americans to the Calder Cup victory in 1996, coached the Tampa Bay Lightning to Stanley Cup Victory in 2004 [also won the Jack Adams award in 2004], and helped to coach the US Olympic team to a Silver medal in the 2010 Olympics.

NHL coaching record: In the 854 NHL games he has coached, Torts has amassed a record of 410 WINS-340 LOSSES-37 TIES-67 OVERTIME LOSSES. This year with the Canucks, he will surpass the 900 games coached milestone. Let’s hope it’s a big year for Torts and the team!

He might not have been the coach that many desired or expected to land in Vancouver BUT he is the coach that chosen for the job. He might possibly stir up the media with a comment or two that they over analyze as they do everything. He might do things that make you question his motives BUT everything he does in regards to the team will be to push them to give their best every game. Will they win every game? Probably not, BUT hopefully each loss[may they be few!] will teach them something and be another push to make them better individually and as a team.

I’ll leave you with this last quote from Torts:

“It’s a pretty unique situation coming to a team that’s winning, that has done a lot of great things along the way [like] almost winning a Stanley Cup [in 2011],” he said. “It’s the next level the [Canucks] organization is looking for. I know how I’m going to approach it. It’s going to be asking the players that are here, hopefully some younger players coming through to our organization, for more out of them.”

Welcome to Vancouver, Torts! I look forward to the ups and downs and all the in between as this new chapter with the team begins!

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Welcome to #Canucknation TORTS!

In case you missed the official introduction of the ever colorful John Tortorella’s first day as Canucks head coach, here are the video links!

In his first official appearance as Canucks Head Coach, he answered questions and addressed concerns from the fans in a FAN Q & A with John Tortorella:

Following his Q & A from the fans, Torts met with the Vancouver media for the first time as head coach. John Tortorella Press Conference:

Did your opinion change in any way? I’ve heard A LOT of people have changed their view of him following these interviews. He said all the right things and and addressed some key issues. He seems to have captured Vancouver fans, team players, and local media in his first press conference. You can feel people becoming cautiously excited for the new season to begin.

WELCOME to #CANUCKNATION TORTS, it’s bound to be an interesting ride!

As always, until next time nuck said.

Sarah E.L.