Vancouver Canucks head coach John Tortorella looks at the scoreboard in the final second of the third period NHL action against the Anaheim Ducks in Vancouver, Monday, April 7, 2014. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jonathan Hayward)

Tortorella somber after elimination, columnist calls team’s style ‘unwatchable’


John Tortorella has a reputation for his fiery confrontations with the press. That was something he wanted to move away from when he took the head coaching job with the Vancouver Canucks, although that didn’t stop him from accusing his critics of ignorance when it comes to playing style the team is trying to execute.

But after the Canucks were officially eliminated from the playoffs courtesy of a lackluster performance against Anaheim, Tortorella wasn’t in the mood to come out swinging.

He conceded that the Canucks didn’t play well enough last night, but he otherwise politely refused to criticize them.

“It doesn’t do anybody any good right now to be critical,” Tortorella said.

After all, the damage is done. If Tortorella is to be fired this summer — and there’s certainly a contingent that’s pushing for that — nothing he says or does now is likely to change that.

Instead Tortorella talked about giving some of the team’s young players, like goaltender Jacob Markstrom, a shot. Essentially kicking off the team’s 2014-15 evaluation process early because these last games have about as much meaning to Vancouver now as training camp contests.

Meanwhile, the criticism of his performance continues to mount. Per Vancouver Province columnist Tony Gallagher:

When Canucks coach John Tortorella called a time out early in the second period and assembled his troops, you have to wonder what he told them.

Whatever was said, it was clear this group is absolutely done with the fellow and any thoughts of bringing him back should be banished permanently because any attempt to sell this unwatchable crap next season will result in the total evacuation of Rogers Arena.

Just one more week of this and then the Canucks’ intentions will slowly start to become apparent.


Gillis says his comments weren’t a shot at Torts

After years of hype, McDavid to play first NHL game

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The hype surrounding Connor McDavid couldn’t be much greater, but finally expectations will start to give way to results.

The NHL career that’s been talked about for years will begin tonight when his Edmonton Oilers face St. Louis.

“It’s something that you dream of for so long,” McDavid told “The draft is one thing, but to finally be in this situation is another, so I’m really excited. It’s been a long road; it’s been a lot of hard work. I think a lot of guys’ stories are different in how they get here, but the one common theme is hard work and my story is not any different that way.”

McDavid has transformed the Oilers with his mere presence. Its breathed fresh optimism into a city that have watched this team struggle in its efforts to dig out of the NHL basement. One also has to wonder if Peter Chiarelli would be the team’s new general manager and Todd McLellan its new head coach if Edmonton hadn’t won the draft lottery.

But where will he lead Edmonton? Will he be just the sixth 70-point rookie of the salary cap era? Will he struggle out of the gate, putting the hype into question? Perhaps he’ll draw comparisons to Steven Stamkos, who had a modest rookie campaign by the standards of a highly regarded top pick, but has nevertheless gone on to become a superstar.

That would surprise Stamkos as the Lightning captain feels McDavid is better than he is currently. Just further proof that those lofty expectations are coming from all sides.

“You don’t want to put too much weight on his shoulders; he’s an 18-year-old kid,” Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli said. “I don’t care how good he is or how good he’ll be, it’s a lot to shoulder if you’re supposed to be the guy and you’re the only guy. Fortunately we have a lot of high-pedigree players that are high picks who have gone through similar situations that he’s going through.”

Edmonton certainly has no shortage of first overall picks, but none as highly regarded as McDavid. But then, few ever are.

Related: There’s ‘a real positive vibe’ in Buffalo, where Eichel will make NHL debut tonight

There’s ‘a real positive vibe’ in Buffalo, where Eichel will make NHL debut tonight

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Jack Eichel didn’t disappoint in the preseason, finishing with six points in four games, including two shorthanded goals.

Tonight in Buffalo, his NHL career will start for real when the Sabres host the Ottawa Senators in regular-season action.

“It’s something I’ve dreamed of my whole life, stepping foot on that ice and making the NHL,” Eichel said, per “It’s kind of been a whirlwind, but you’re finally playing hockey for a living and everything you’ve done your whole life is to get to this point. It’s pretty special.”

The 18-year-old’s debut was front-page news this morning in Buffalo, where the Sabres have been among the NHL’s worst teams since last making the playoffs in 2010-11.

Eichel front page

Granted, even with the additions of Eichel, Ryan O'Reilly, Evander Kane, Robin Lehner and Cody Franson, expectations for 2015-16 remain modest for the new-look Sabres. Certainly, a spot in the playoffs would count as a surprise.

But for the fans of a team that’s barely possessed the puck the past couple of years, it’s night and day.

“People are excited,” GM Tim Murray said earlier this week. “It’s great. They think we’ve improved, and there’s a real positive vibe, I believe.

“That’s what I said to our coaches, ‘I want everybody to be positive. I’m the only guy in the organization allowed to be negative.’ That’s the way I wanted it. If I’m the most negative guy in the city about the team, that’s pretty good.”