Mike Gillis

Gillis says his comments weren’t a shot at Torts


Remember last week when Canucks general manager Mike Gillis went on the radio and promised to “get back to the fundamentals and principles” in which he believes — specifically, an “up-beat, puck-possession, move-the-puck quickly, force-teams-into-mistakes, high-transition game” — and pretty much everyone took it as a direct shot at head coach John Tortorella?

Well, according to the Vancouver Sun, Gillis “privately asserted” the next day that “his comments were not intended as an attack or judgment on his coach.”

Which would tend to support the less-salacious argument we posed Thursday that Gillis was, in fact, admonishing the club’s ill-fated change of direction that started before Tortorella was even hired.

Now, that being said, Gillis definitely did send a message with his remarks that anyone who wasn’t on board with his new/old vision would be “changed.”

It’s also entirely possible that Gillis, upon watching the Canucks fall apart in January, approached Tortorella about adjusting the team’s style and the two didn’t see eye to eye.

Which would tend to support what the New York Post’s Larry Brooks wrote in a column that was penned while the Rangers were in Vancouver:

Tortorella’s narrow vision has done him and his team in this year. He has become the worst kind of zealot behind the bench, believing his way is the only way to win games regardless of his playing personnel, even if that means pounding square pegs into round holes. He is a zealot, a true believer that grinding, blocking shots and packing the defensive end is the one and only route to success.

Maybe that’s just Brooks’ opinion, and his alone. But we’d wager it was based on a few conversations he had with people in the know.

Bottom line: if Gillis isn’t fired at the end of the season (yes, a big if), Tortorella will have to be open to widening his vision; otherwise, it’s hard to see how he keeps his job.

Gillis did make sure to mention Thursday that “everyone thought Alain Vigneault couldn’t change from a defensive-style coach to an offensive-style coach. If given the resources and if the players are committed to it, I think any coach can coach the team that he has.”

Related: On Canucks’ style of play, Torts accuses critics of ignorance

After PTO, Upshall signs one-year deal with Blues

Florida Panthers v Ottawa Senators
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Scottie Upshall has parlayed his training camp tryout into a contract with St. Louis.

On Monday, the Blues agreed to a one-year, two-way deal with the veteran forward, worth $700,000 at the NHL level. The deal comes after Upshall spent all of training camp and the preseason impressing the Blues his speed and skating ability, no small feat for a 31-year-old veteran with over 500 NHL games on his odometer.

But where Upshall fits in the Blues lineup — and within the organization — remains to be seen.

The club has plenty of depth up front and Upshall isn’t coming off a terrific campaign, having scored just eight goals and 15 points in 63 games with Florida last season. That said, he showed enough to be just one of a handful of veterans on PTOs to score a contract.

Panthers’ Crouse is going back to junior

2015 NHL Draft - Round One
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Lawson Crouse is going back to junior. The big 18-year-old winger confirmed it today on Twitter.

Crouse was drafted 11th overall in June by the Florida Panthers. Despite the club’s belief that Crouse could make “an immediate impact” on the roster, he finished the preseason with just two shots and one assist in three games.

Crouse will return to the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs, with whom he’ll look to improve on his modest point totals from last season.

“I don’t think there’s any pressure on the kid,” coach Gerard Gallant said last week. “If he doesn’t make the team this year he goes back to junior … and will have a lot of success.”