tortorellagetty

It’s official: Canucks fire Tortorella, Sullivan

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The worst-kept secret over the last 24 hours is now official — Vancouver has dismissed head coach John Tortorella and assistant Mike Sullivan.

Here’s a statement from team president Trevor Linden, which alludes to the earlier dismissal of GM Mike Gillis:

“Today we are making an important change in the direction of our team,” said Linden. “On behalf of the entire organization, we extend our thanks to John, Mike and their families for their commitment to the Canucks and wish them the very best.”

“We have a lot of important work to accomplish this off-season as we build our management and coaching staff, improve our roster and connect with our fans. Our General Manager search is well underway and we will begin assessing head coaching candidates immediately.”

There was no news given about the status of the rest of Tortorella’s coaching staff — assistant Glen Gulutzan, video coach Darryl Williams and goalie coach Rollie Melanson — so it’s safe to assume they will remain in place until a new bench boss is hired.

In an interesting note, Linden also sent a separate message to Canucks ticketholders further explaining his decision to remove Tortorella:

This is a fresh start for our team and you’ll see us make some other changes this summer. It starts with how we shape our management and coaching staffs and the roster improvements we’re able to make. Our goal is to be back in the playoffs next spring as we continue developing this group into a team that can challenge for the Stanley Cup.

We’re also committed to making it exciting to watch Canucks games throughout the season. A Season Ticket Member sent me a message recently saying, “We all want ‘The Cup’ of course but we also want to enjoy the ride too.” We’re going to do everything we can to make that happen. We want to put a team on the ice that creates buzz and anticipation in the city on game days. A team that has you planning your week around games and coming early to Rogers Arena to enjoy the atmosphere and to cheer on your Canucks.

Tortorella leaves the Canucks after just one seasons on the job, with a 36-35-11 record and four years remaining on his five-year, $10 million deal.

Report: Tortorella will be fired Thursday

Calgary Flames v Vancouver Canucks
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For the second time in as many years, John Tortorella will be shown the door, according to TSN’s Farhan Lalji.

The controversial coach was brought in to make the Vancouver Canucks a better postseason squad after back-to-back first round exits under former bench boss Alain Vigneault. Instead, Tortorella’s Canucks failed to make the playoffs entirely and will reportedly be fired tomorrow.

Vancouver averaged just 2.33 goals per game in 2013-14, which put them ahead of just the Florida Panthers and Buffalo Sabres in the NHL. A lot of that was due to the decline of the Sedin twins, who combined for just 27 goals and 97 points after Daniel Sedin alone topped that total in 2010-11 and Henrik Sedin did so in the previous campaign.

That’s not to suggest Tortorella was an innocent victim to Sedin’s decline though as his desire to have them focus more on blocking shots and killing penalties might have contributed to their offensive struggles.

Assuming the report is true, Tortorella’s firing would be another major step in the Canucks’ efforts to reinvent themselves. In the last two months, they’ve traded goaltender Roberto Luongo, fired GM Mike Gillis, and appointed Trevor Linden as the team’s new president.

Related:

Linden wants new Canucks GM by end of May

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

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

In two years, Gillis has gone from top dog to embattled GM

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

Linden thinks Torts misused the Sedins

Canucks owner threatens legal action after papers suggest he was behind Tortorella hire

Francesco Aquilini
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All that’s missing is a big top and bearded lady.

The media circus that is the Vancouver Canucks reached new heights on Monday, as reports surfaced of a legal letter sent from owner Francesco Aquilini to two newspapers — The Province and the Globe and Mail — that demanded retraction and an apology for articles claiming he was directly involved with the hire of head coach John Tortorella.

More, from the Globe:

 On Monday, Francesco Aquilini sent a Globe and Mail reporter a text message warning of legal action after the newspaper published a story discussing the family’s involvement in the hiring.

“I read your article today. You are a prick,” it said. Two hours later, a legal letter from the family’s counsel arrived by e-mail. It alleged defamation, sought a retraction and an apology, and threatened further action.

“The facts are that while the Aquilinis supported the decision of the General Manager, the hiring decision was his and not theirs,” lawyer Howard Shapray of Vancouver-based Shapray Cramer Fitterman Lamer LLP wrote in the legal letter to The Globe.

And here’s the Province’s take:

The Aquilinis have sent legal letters to two local media members, requesting a retraction and apology for suggesting ownership had a significant role in hiring John Tortorella. (for disclosure sake, I’m not one of them)

A libel notice must be sent within six weeks of an alleged libellous statement, and is the first step if you want to sue a publisher for libel.

In writing, you need to let the author know you believe you have been libelled.

In this particular case, the Aquilinis claim the reports, one of which says Tortorella was hired by consensus, were erroneous and Tortorella was their general manager’s choice, and one which they backed.

They also claim that by writing they had a prominent role in the hiring it was designed to “incite ridicule for making bad or embarrassing judgments.”

Neither writer or publication, as of this date, are planning a retraction or apology and both stand by their stories.

Fun stuff.

Whispers of an “ownership hire” in Vancouver have been going on since the day Tortorella was brought aboard, though nothing was ever confirmed publicly. Former GM Mike Gillis previously said the hire was his call, but did throw out the idea he wasn’t happy with the direction the team was taking in an interview with Team 1040 last week.

“The running of this team is my responsibility and I really feel over the last couple of seasons we’ve chased goalposts that have been moving and got away from our core principles of how I want this team to play,” he said.

Aquilini, who turfed Gillis yesterday, will meet with the media at 1:30 p.m. ET today to discuss the dismissal — and reports suggest he could also introduce the club’s new leadership committee, which may or may not include ex-Hockey Canada head Bob Nicholson or former Canucks captain Trevor Linden.

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

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)
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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.

Related:

Gillis says his comments weren’t a shot at Torts

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

SedinTorts
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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.”