Mike Gillis

Gillis won’t say if Tortorella’s lost Canucks room


Vancouver’s Mike Gillis met with reporters at the GM meetings in Boca Raton on Wednesday, and was decidedly tight-lipped about the future of embattled head coach John Tortorella.

“I am not going to comment on specific things about John,” Gillis said, when asked if Tortorella had lost the dressing room (per CBC). “It is unfair to him.”

The most telling part of Gillis’ scrum is that “no comment” really meant “no comment.” The Canucks GM was mum on both sides of the Tororella discussion — he refused to acknowledge rumors of a pending dismissal, but also refused to give the coach a vote of confidence.

Gillis did call the Canucks a team “in transition” and said there was plenty of blame to go around for the disappointing season. Gillis also suggested, curiously enough, that he still has the support of the Aquilini ownership group, which is important given there’s as much uncertainty surrounding Gillis’ future as GM as there is with Tortorella’s future as head coach.

Yesterday, The Province’s Jason Botchford wrote that ‘it’s obvious Tortorella can’t come back next year,” even suggesting Torts would be turfed prior to tonight’s game in Winnipeg.

Who exactly pushed for Tortorella’s hiring has always been a big question in Vancouver. If it truly was Gillis, it was an odd choice for a general manager who had always prided himself on a progressive hockey philosophy. Tortorella is more of an old-school coach, which is why many believe it was Canucks ownership that wanted him, not Gillis.

We wondered last week if Tortorella’s system was a major part of the problem in Vancouver, and certainly nothing we’ve seen since has made us stop wondering.

Bettman to players: Don’t screw up ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ with drugs

Gary Bettman
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The NHL wants to take an educational approach — not a punitive one — to deter its players from using illicit drugs like cocaine.

“My interest is not to go around punishing people,” Bettman told Sportsnet today.

“My interest is getting players to understand the consequences of doing something that could jeopardize this great, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that they’ve been given, to play in the NHL.”

While some players have expressed surprise at hearing that cocaine use is growing, the anecdotal evidence of substance abuse has been very much in the news, from Jarret Stoll‘s arrest to Mike Richards’ arrest to, more recently, Zack Kassian‘s placement in the NHL/NHLPA’s treatment program.

“We don’t have the unilateral right to do things here. We need the consent of the Players’ Association,” Bettman said. “It’s not about punishment. It’s about making sure we get it to stop.”

Related: Cocaine in the NHL: A concern, but not a crisis?

Goalie nods: Jones makes Sharks debut against ex-Kings mates

Martin Jones
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News and notes from around the crease…

Jones goes for San Jose

Martin Jones, acquired by the Sharks this summer, will make his first regular-season start for the club tonight against his old team — the Los Angeles Kings.

Jones, 25, spent the last two years in L.A. as Jonathan Quick‘s understudy. He was flipped to Boston at the NHL Entry Draft, then shipped to San Jose. Sharks GM Doug Wilson wasted little time locking Jones in — signing him to a three-year, $9 million extension — and Jones wasted little time locking up the No. 1 gig, putting together a stellar preseason.

For the Kings, Quick will get the start in goal.

Markstrom out for Vancouver

Jacob Markstrom wasn’t scheduled to start for the Canucks tonight — No. 1 Ryan Miller is getting the call — but the Swedish ‘tender won’t even dress when his club takes on the Flames in Calgary.

Markstrom suffered a lower-body injury at practice this week and is being held out of tonight’s action. In his place, the Canucks called up AHL netminder Richard Bachman, who’ll serve as Miller’s backup.

For the Flames, Karri Ramo is the opening-night starter.


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