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Tortorella to Coach Vancouver Canucks

by Photo of Antoinette Cammarano

In a true head coach swap, Tortorella is going to the Canucks after Vigneault comes to the Rangers.

Tortorella to Coach Vancouver Canucks

It's kind of like the show Wife Swap, only with head coaches from the NHL rather than psychotic homemakers.

John Tortorella, former coach of the New York Rangers from 2009-2013, has been announced as the new head coach of the Vancouver Canucks. Funnily enough, former Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault, who was fired this May after coaching the team since 2006, was named the new coach of the New York Rangers only last week.

Tortorella touts an impressive resume in the NHL, including a record that currently stands at 410-330-37-67 - the most wins for an American-born coach - three straight playoff appearances with the Rangers, winning the Stanley Cup and the Jack Adams Award during his tenure with the Tampa Bay Lighting, and winning a silver medal as an assistant coach for the USA men's ice hockey team during the 2010 Winter Olympics. It is not his talent that leads Vancouver fans to be a little weary of their new coach.

However, one would assume that Tortorella's coaching style would be an issue with his new franchise. Tortorella preaches toward a shot-blocking, defensive style, a style that Canucks general manager Mike Gillis has openly spoken against. The Rangers have become known for collapsing in front of their own net to block shots, but Tortorella claims he is not a "defensive coach." Defensive coaching has been lamented by Gillis numerous times.

But no, it is neither his talent nor his coaching style that has brought the biggest concern for his new position - it is Tortorella's relationship with the media that has arisen as the biggest concern. 

After becoming infamous for his antics in the locker room on the HBO special 24/7 that aired before the 2012 Winter Classic, Tortorella has stated that he will "work at that to cultivate a relationship with all of you," the "you" being the media in Vancouver. Immediately following his acceptance for the Vancouver position, the franchise began working to better his image to the public. This included doing an online Q and A session with fans under the Twitter hashtag #asktorts, a story on the team website in which Tortorella announces his hopes to distance himself from the image of being "that lunatic," and a graphic highlighting the multiple charities and organizations Tortorella works for.

Will all this "good" publicity really change the public's perception of him, though? 

I highly doubt it. It is hard to come back from a reputation like Tortorella's unscathed.

Another major issue facing Tortorella, besides trying to rectify his image, is dealing with an aging Canucks team. Tortorella has stated that he plans on developing more young players, much like he did in New York; however, the Canucks have several no-trade contracts and a roster near the salary cap, and are not crawling with prospects. It may be hard to draw new talent to the team, but Tortorella states that he will try.

Demanding more from his current players is another measure Tortorella will go through to better his franchise. Included in these demands are penalty killing duties, which Tortorella will assign to top-line twins Daniel and Henrik Sedin. Along with these penalty killing duties will come shot-blocking duties. 

Tortorella now has a lot on his plate, with both his reputation in need of repair and his aging team in need of an energy booster, but only time will tell if the Canucks made a good decision in bringing the storied ex-Ranger coach up into a much more competitive, and media heavy, hockey market.

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