Daniel and Henrik Sedin are both skilled forwards that have been performing at an elite level for the better part of a decade. They’ve also been referred to as soft, and that’s a label Canucks coach John Tortorella passionately disagrees with.
“I’m not sure who started it but I’m sure there are a couple of know-it-alls out there who always talk about it,” Tortorella said, according to the Vancouver Province. “But they don’t have a clue what these guys are about.”
He added, “It pisses me off, the reputation that’s still out there. It’s so undeserving and so disrespectful.”
Tortorella pointed to the twins’ puck protection skills and work along the boards as evidence of their toughness. He also feels that people look at their level of skill and just assume they don’t have a game beyond that.
The Sedin twins have become the cornerstones of the Canucks’ franchise and will remain in that role after agreeing to matching four-year, $28 million extensions today.
They are 33 years old, so the Canucks are gambling on the idea that they won’t regress significantly over that span, but if you’re going to make that kind of bet, these are the guys you want to do it with. They have stayed relatively healthy throughout their careers and haven’t slowed down significantly yet.
Not to mention that they have clearly earned Tortorella’s respect.
Things got heated at the end of a wild first period between Edmonton and Vancouver.
After the Canucks scored two goals in an 18-second span, a sequence of rough stuff led to a verbal altercation between Vancouver head coach John Tortorella and Oilers associate Keith Action.
Here are two screengrabs, courtesy CBC:
The issue between the two likely stemmed from an incident involving Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler and Acton’s son, Will Acton. The pair fought with 41 seconds left in the frame — alongside some pushing and shoving between Ryan Stanton and Mike Brown. All told, 26 penalty minutes were handed out for the incident(s), which culminated with Tortorella and the elder Acton sharing pleasantries.
Vancouver finished the first period up 3-1.
Update: Here’s a Vine of Acton’s portion of the yelling match. Don’t read lips…
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.
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.
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 NHL.com. “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.”