Brad Richards

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


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

How much will Tortorella change the Canucks?


Once it became clear that John Tortorella was primed to take over the head coaching gig for the Vancouver Canucks, many assumed that he’d transform the squad into the New York Rangers of the Pacific Northwest.

The fiery coach seemed to embolden such thoughts when he insisted that the Sedin twins will kill penalties and maybe even block shots. Ryan Kesler added more fuel to the fire when he told the media that Tortorella will “expect more from everybody.”

While we’ll only really know once the games begin – or maybe only after a full season – it’s quite possible that the changes won’t be as drastic as people expect.

Player roles

As ESPN Insider’s Neil Greenberg reviewed (subscription required), Tortorella and former Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault do indeed tend to deploy top forwards differently when it comes to where they begin shifts. Those preferences might mean a shift in advanced stats, yet the alterations in goals and assists may not be that substantial.

Tortorella admitted that he didn’t get the most out of top scorers after the 2013 playoffs, but it’s likely that Vancouver’s offensive identity will remain largely the same next season. (The long-term outlook could be fuzzier, however.)


Tortorella certainly didn’t deny his love of shot-blocking, but it could be crucial to take personnel into account when considering his approach. When he was with the Tampa Bay Lightning from 2000-01 to 2007-08, the Bolts only finished in the top 15 in shot-blocking once (when they ranked 12th with 507 total in 2007-08).

Maybe he required Rangers players to put their bodies on the line because he didn’t believe that he really had the roster to dominate puck possession and win in more finesse-driven ways?

Regardless, it wouldn’t be surprising if Tortorella views Kesler as the new Ryan Callahan: his do-everything, all-around American forward.

Penalty-killing Sedins?

Maybe Tortorella doesn’t believe in players specializing quite as much as Vigneault does, but it wouldn’t be shocking if the Sedins’ penalty kill time remains limited.

For all the bluster, Tortorella hasn’t made that big of a habit of employing top scorers on the penalty kill.

In 2013, Rick Nash averaged 31 seconds of PK time while Brad Richards notched six seconds per contest. Henrik Sedin’s nine seconds per game eclipses Richards’ mark, too.


It’s likely that Tortorella will make some changes to the way the Canucks play, yet it’s reasonable to flip that notion and state that Vancouver’s roster might alter his outlook in equal proportions.

Flexibility is an underrated trait found among many of the league’s best thinkers, so don’t be surprised if the Canucks’ new coach ends up being more open-minded to changing his ways than many expect.

He’ll probably continue to conduct hilariously uncomfortable press conferences, though.