Canucks want coach who can ‘get guys excited about what they’re doing’


The Vancouver Canucks still don’t have a head coach hired for next season. But whether it’s Willie Desjardins, Mike Johnston, Marc Crawford, or any other candidate behind the bench next season, president of hockey operations Trevor Linden says he’ll need to do a better job of stoking the players’ enthusiasm than John Tortorella did last season.

“I think we’re looking for someone who can recapture our people who were so off last year,” Linden said this morning on TEAM 1040 radio in Vancouver (audio).

“I think, in doing that, you need to sell a program that guys can get excited about, and want to be a part of. I think the lack of excitement showed up in our play last year. It kind of permeated in all areas of the club.

“Certainly, you want someone who can get guys excited about what they’re doing, and excited about the style of play.”

That theme is not unique to Vancouver’s situation. The Nashville Predators, for example, hired Peter Laviolette to replace Barry Trotz in part because general manager David Poile thought a more “fun way to play” might strike a chord with his players.

Now, granted, the Canucks didn’t just miss the playoffs because Tortorella’s hockey philosophy didn’t mesh with the roster. Ditto for the Preds and Trotz. But remember that NHL teams are also in the entertainment business, and exciting, free-flowing hockey is a heck of a lot easier to sell than “slow” hockey.

When Tortorella was fired, Linden wrote in a note to season-ticket holders that he was “committed to making it exciting to watch Canucks games throughout the season,” and that he wants to “put a team on the ice that creates buzz and anticipation in the city on game days.”

That’s what the Canucks used to do a short time ago, when they not only won a lot of games, they played an up-tempo style that was pleasing to watch.

Whether they still have the personnel to win that way is a major question for Linden and new general manager Jim Benning. Clearly, though, the Canucks are hoping to kill two birds with one stone with whoever they hire as coach: Stop losing. And stop losing ugly.

Video: Flyers’ Konecny scores first NHL goal

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Through six games of the NHL season, Travis Konecny enjoyed a nice start to his rookie campaign with five assists. Just one thing was missing, though.

On Tuesday, he took care of that against the Buffalo Sabres.

Konecny, taken 24th overall in the 2015 NHL Draft, deflected an Ivan Provorov point shot early in the third period, beating goalie Anders Nilsson on the glove side for his first NHL goal.  That goal also got the Flyers on the board.


Konecny and Provorov make Flyers, expected ‘to be here all year’

WATCH LIVE: Ducks at Sharks

ANAHEIM, CA - DECEMBER 04:  Martin Jones #31 of the San Jose Sharks and Paul Martin #7 of the San Jose Sharks defend against the shot of Corey Perry #10 of the Anaheim Ducks during a game at Honda Center on December 4, 2015 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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California rivals clash tonight, as the Anaheim Ducks visit the San Jose Sharks. This marks the first meeting of the season between the two Pacific Division teams.

The Sharks have lost two games in a row, while the Ducks have won two straight.

You can catch tonight’s game on NBCSN or with the NBC Sports’ Live Extra (10 p.m. ET).


Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:

Brent Burns is on a beastly pace

Report: Ducks put Despres on long-term injured reserve

NHL on NBCSN doubleheader: Sabres vs. Flyers; Ducks vs. Sharks

Video: Looks like Bishop lost some teeth after taking a shot to the mask

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Difficult night for some goalies across the NHL.

Frederik Andersen has had his struggles against Steven Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning, although the players in front of him haven’t given their puck stopper much help, either.

And then there is Bolts goalie Ben Bishop, who took a Peter Holland wrist shot off the mask and appeared to lose some teeth as a result.

But this is hockey. Bishop, who even appeared to crack a smile while being examined on the ice, remained in the game.

Video: Sabres make Flyers pay after Giroux slams Girgensons from behind into the boards

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Claude Giroux was called for boarding after plastering Zemgus Girgensons from behind into the boards in the second period. But the Buffalo Sabres made the Philadelphia Flyers and their captain pay.

Giroux was assessed only a minor penalty on the play. He promptly exited the penalty box, though, after Matt Moulson scored six seconds into the Sabres power play, giving Buffalo a two-goal lead.

Girgensons and Moulson scored less than two minutes apart to give Buffalo the lead.