Tortorella, Vigneault admit it’s strange to face former teams


Alain Vigneault coached the Vancouver Canucks for seven seasons while John Tortorella was the New York Rangers’ bench boss for five, so Thursday’s upcoming preseason game must be weird for both of them. They spoke about as much with the Bergen Record earlier today.

“It is strange,” Vigneault said. “Strange is a word I can use right now. Coming in this morning and saying hi to the staff that worked with me for a long time, it was special.”

Tortorella’s experience probably wasn’t as emotional since the game isn’t in Madison Square Garden. Still, he noted that he didn’t really want to leave the Rangers in the first place.

“I said right along, I loved working there,” Tortorella said. “Did I want to leave? No. I was told to leave and I left. It’s part of the game and I’m knee-deep in it here trying to get this team ready to play.”

As far as regular season meetings go, the Canucks go back to MSG on Nov. 30 while Vancouver hosts the Rangers on April Fool’s Day, 2014.

Tortorella: Schroeder has bruised foot, doesn’t trust Edmonton x-rays

John Tortorella

One of John Tortorella’s recent trademarks is his desire to have players block shots. As Vancouver Canucks forward Jordan Schroeder found out last night, that can be pretty painful.

Schroeder blocked a Nail Yakupov slapshot in the second period of Vancouver’s 5-2 loss to Edmonton. It was his first game back since having his shoulder operated on this summer.

Some were worried he broke his foot, but as Ben Kuzma of The Province reports Tortorella had other issues.

“He had x-rays but I’m not so sure about the machine,” said Tortorella. “We’ll wait until we get home and right now it’s a bruised foot.”

I’m sure there’s a joke to be made here about Tortorella not trusting technology and some wisecrack about Twitter, but I got nothing for you.

As for Schroeder, he’s gunning for a job as the Canucks’ third line center. Any further setbacks like this won’t do him any favors in trying to stay full-time in the NHL.

Kesler: Tortorella’s style ‘basically what my game is all about’

Vancouver Canucks v Phoenix Coyotes

Many people have pegged Ryan Kesler as a potential benefactor from John Tortorella’s hire in Vancouver.

Apparently, Kesler agrees.

“[Tortorella] wants hard work, he wants execution and he wants no mistakes. That’s basically what my game is all about,” Kesler said at Team USA’s Olympic camp, as per “He wants you to compete and doesn’t want anybody to take a game off, which I like.”

Tortorella doesn’t have much history with any of his new Canuck players, so his brief experience with Kesler on the 2010 U.S. Olympic team is important.

Tortorella ran the defense for America’s silver medal-winning side, but still got to work with Kesler during the finest stretch of the center’s career. Kesler scored a career-high 41 goals in 2010-11 while pacing the Canucks to the Stanley Cup Final, capturing his first-ever Selke Trophy (beating out Jonathan Toews and Pavel Datsyuk.)

It’ll be interesting to see if Tortorella implements the same minute distribution in Vancouver as he did in New York. His best players received huge ice time, as evident by Ryan McDonagh’s 53-minute performance during a triple-OT playoff win in 2012.

Kesler has been a workhorse in the past — he played more than any forward during the ’11 Cup run — and is looking to get back to that after a myriad of injuries (foot, shoulder and hip) over the last two seasons.

“I feel like I haven’t played in a couple of years,” Kesler said. “I’m 100 percent.”

Richards has reached out to Tortorella, ‘but there’s been no talking’

Brad Richards

It appears the Brad Richards-John Tortorella relationship is still a tad acrimonious.

Months after the Rangers head coach made Richards a healthy scratch during the Stanley Cup playoffs, Richards told the New York Post he’s unsuccessfully tried to contact to his former bench boss.

“I reached out,” Richards told The Post. “But there’s been no talking.”

Tortorella, who was fired from the Rangers gig in in late May, appeared to have issues with Richards throughout the lockout-shortened campaign, all of which reached a head during New York’s second-round playoff loss to Boston, in which Richards was dropped from the lineup entirely in Games 4 and 5 after playing sparingly in Games 1-3.

There appears to be a new wrinkle, though.

The Post reports Tortorella thought “that Richards should have played in Europe during last year’s three-month lockout.” If accurate, this really accentuates how long (and deep) the rift between the two went.

In October 2012, less than a month into the work stoppage, Tortorella was already voicing his concerns about players losing their edge and the “mindset from the New York Rangers that defines us.”

After reading that, it’s not surprising to hear that Torts was irate that Richards — one of the veteran leaders of the team — failed to play overseas and keep in shape while fellow Blueshirt teammates (Ryan McDonagh, Carl Hagelin, Rick Nash) did.

Of course, Richards was just one of New York’s over-30 veterans that opted not to play overseas, along with Marian Gaborik, Mike Rupp and Henrik Lundqvist.

Of course, Gaborik and Rupp got traded mid-season…so yeah.

Luongo to Tortorella: ‘I just want to play’

Roberto Luongo

It’s never dull in Vancouver when it comes to Roberto Luongo’s status with the team. He’s been very quiet most of the summer, save for the occasional tweet here and there, but one guy who’s kept up with him is his new coach, John Tortorella.

Brad Ziemer of the Vancouver Sun spoke with Tortorella (it’s a great interview, by the way) and finds out the coach is very much working on his relationship with Luongo.

“He knows there is a lot of talk and probably a lot of questions coming his way with how it all unfolded here,” Tortorella said. “I think he’s prepared for that and the bottom line is he told me “I just want to play.” I think that is the most important thing, if there is some conflict or you are unhappy about certain things, the bottom line is and he understands it, is that he is playing for his teammates. Those are the most important people.”

Rumors about Luongo not being happy coming back to Vancouver after the Canucks dealt Cory Schneider this summer instead of him have persisted. His seeming aloofness has kept the rumor mill going.

If Luongo is unhappy about things, stressing how the team needs him is a good way to appeal to him. After all, it’s not like he’s getting traded now. If it didn’t happen in the last two years, it’s not about to now.

Related: Canucks assistant GM can’t say if Luongo will be happy at training camp