Sedin backs Tortorella and staff: ‘We love playing for these coaches’


Canucks captain Henrik Sedin has jumped to the defense of embattled head coach John Tortorella.

“We love playing for these coaches, that’s the bottom line,” Sedin said, per the Vancouver Sun. “I mean, they put in a system where we know we can win each and every game.”

There’s been much discussion over the last few weeks about Tortorella’s job security in Vancouver. The Canucks have gone 5-12-1 and fallen to 10th in the Western Conference since his infamous attack attempt on Calgary coach Bob Hartley on Jan. 18 and, on Wednesday, GM Mike Gillis didn’t give Tortorella a vote of confidence when asked about the coach’s future in Vancouver.

“Again, that’s rumor and speculation,” Gillis said, per the Sun. “I’m not commenting on that because it just lends credibility to what’s out there with bloggers and all kinds of different people. So it’s unfair to comment on any future plans other than what we’ve already said, which is we’re trying to get younger, we’re trying to re-tool and we’re trying to do some things a little differently in the next 1-3-5 years.”

Gillis also declined to say if he felt Tortorella lost the Canucks’ dressing room.

As such, getting the captain’s backing has to be a good sign for Tortorella and assistants Mike Sullivan and Glen Gulutzan. Sedin is a well-respected voice in both the room and throughout the organization and despite going through a down year offensively — something many have pinned on Tortorella’s conservative playing style — Sedin insisted the players are the ones responsible for the poor performance this year.

“What’s been missing this year, so far, has been us making mistakes and it’s cost us. I think that has been our biggest problem,” he explained. “We have a lot of guys in here who care extremely much about this team.”

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

Mike Gillis

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.

Tortorella wonders if Lack can handle going from Robin to Batman

Enthusiasts Enjoy The Exhibits At Super Comic Convention In London

A day after a disastrous loss to the New York Islanders, some fans may dream that the Vancouver Canucks will find a hero. Maybe that explains why John Tortorella has Batman on the brain.

When asked about the challenges facing new No. 1 goalie Eddie Lack, Tortorella made a comic book comparison, as Cam Tucker reports for Metro Vancouver.

“It’s Batman and Robin. It’s easy to be Robin. When you become Batman it changes a little bit and we expect some bumps in the road with Eddie,” Tortorella said. “But I’ve seen him this year handle so many different situations … that this is where we’re going.”

(Does that make Jacob Markstrom Chris O’Donnell? Roberto Luongo is probably hockey’s Michael Keaton, so it might be fair.)

At least Lack, 26, is taking the rather odd comparison in stride. Then again, maybe it’s all about the cool car.

“I always want to be Batman. Just going try to do my best here and get back at it,” Lack said. “The Batmobile is pretty cool.”

A sense of humor might just be needed in this situation.

Tortorella calls meltdown ‘a kick in the teeth’

Eddie Lack, Joe Colborne, Dan Hamhuis

To little surprise, the Vancouver Canucks provided some interesting comments following their stunning meltdown against the New York Islanders on Monday. To even less of a surprise, head coach John Tortorella provided the best sound bytes.

There was one slight upset, at least to some: reporters considered him even keeled after his team saw a 3-0 third-period lead slip into a 7-4 loss against the Isles.

“This is a kick in the teeth,” Tortorella said. “We need to be men.”

Eddie Lack understandably took a lot of responsibility for allowing six of those even goals, not throwing a power-play unit that allowed three power-play goals under the bus. (Or at least lying under the bus with them.)

Meanwhile, Ryan Kesler merely expressed his bewilderment at the situation, though not in a Clerks kind of way.

Yet, to the dismay of Canucks fans and the sordid entertainment of other onlookers, it did happen. Now it’s just down to guessing what’s next.

(And no, Roberto Luongo hasn’t generated a snarky public comment about this … yet.)

* – The last one was an empty-netter.

Is Tortorella’s system to blame for Canucks’ woes?

Tom Sestito, John Tortorella

No longer just a great song you hear at Joe Louis Arena, “Don’t Stop Believing” has apparently become the mantra of the Vancouver Canucks.

To wit, here’s coach John Tortorella after Sunday’s 4-2 loss to Ottawa in the Heritage Classic: “The only thing you can do from (general manager) Mike Gillis right on down to our team, we need to keep believing as an organization and take each and every day.”

And here’s winger Alex Burrows, still without a goal this season: “We’ve got to rely on our system, and keep believing that we’re doing a lot of good things. You’ve got to keep believing that your structure and your system is strong.”

It’s funny, because that’s the exact same message I heard from countless members of Team Canada in Sochi. When the goals weren’t going in, they said the only thing they could fall back on was the system, and they had to believe that it would eventually pay off.

You know how that ended. Mike Babcock’s puck-possession system was ultimately celebrated, along with the gold medal.

But — and this is the thing when it comes to the Canucks — what if the system is, you know, completely and utterly wrong?

We only ask, because, not long ago, Vancouver was one of most dynamic offensive teams in the NHL. Today, with largely the same core players, its offense ranks 27th, averaging a paltry 2.33 goals per game.

And back when the Canucks were piling up the points in the standings, Burrows and the Sedin twins formed one of the best, most entertaining lines in hockey. Today, that line is a shadow of itself, no disrespect to the shadow.

I asked Burrows if Tortorella’s system made it harder to do the things his line used to do so well.

“It’s a little different, that’s for sure,” Burrows said. “But we’ve got to make more plays.”

I asked him how the system was different.

“Well, I’m not going to comment, go down into it,” he said. “But we have to be better.”

I didn’t expect to hear a detailed breakdown of the system, or for Burrows to bash his coach’s game plan. Besides, the players do “have to be better,” regardless of the system.

But let’s face it, Tortorella was fired as coach of the Rangers for a reason. Actually, it was a few reasons, but the “style of play” he dictated was a big one, according to the guy who fired him.

“If you look at these playoff games (like the Stanley Cup Finals matchup) you’re gonna see tonight, the style that they play, I mean there’s not a hell of a lot of dump-ins,” Glen Sather said in June. “I mean, (if) you have to dump the puck in, you have to dump it. But there’s a lot of puck control and hanging onto the puck and moving the puck out, and there’s not stopping behind the net to gain control. There’s a lot of things that are done differently than what we were doing. So you have to look at the style of play. That had a lot to do with (the decision to fire Tortorella), too.”

And when the Canucks’ last coach, Alain Vigneault, was hired by the Rangers, it wasn’t a commitment to shot-blocking and collapsing in front of the goalie that Sather was trumpeting.

Tortorella said before the Heritage Classic that he was hoping the quasi-outdoor experience might help jump-start his “big guys” (translation: Sedins and Burrows) offensively.

“I think some of our guys need to offensively allow themselves to play some shinny hockey,” he said. “Just let them play. Maybe this will help us. I don’t know.”

Of course, he also said his “biggest concern” was “staying with our structure.” Which doesn’t exactly translate to, “Just let them play.”

But hey, don’t stop believing.

Related: Apparently Glen Sather and Mike Gillis don’t see the game evolving the same way