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John Tortorella thinks Marian Gaborik will be back by Monday

Last night, we discussed the dreaded return of Marian Gaborik’s boogeyman (not to be confused with the possibly soon-to-be-returning Derek Boogaard), aka his recurring groin problems. Considering how much trouble he’s had for many years, it was natural for Rangers fans to get a little worried.

(Even if Gaborik’s loss means the gain of Mats Zuccarello, a guy whose nickname is “The Norwegian Hobbit Wizard.”)

Well, if you trust John Tortorella, it sounds like Gaborik’s groin problems are minor. In fact, the Rangers coach believes that he could be back in the team’s lineup as soon as Monday’s game against the New York Islanders. Andrew Gross of Ranger Rants has the story.

Gross also writes that enforcer Derek Boogaard is making good progress in his recovery from concussion issues, although he won’t be cleared to play any time sooner than his upcoming neurologist visit on Tuesday.

Gaborik has been undergoing treatment on his sore groin – it was starting to nag him prior to Monday’s intensive practice and he came in Wednesday saying he couldn’t skate – and also underwent acupuncture today. Tortorella said because of the spread-out schedule with two days off after tonight for Christmas, Gaborik should be ready to return when the team resumes practicing (on Sunday) and playing. Tortorella also shot down the idea that Gaborik, with just one goal in his past eight games, has been playing through an injury.

“He’s trying to get it taken care of,” Tortorella said. “I don’t think it’s been a long-term thing.”

Poll results: PHT readers think John Tortorella is the coach most likely to be fired

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A couple days ago, I reacted to a piece about NHL coaches who might be in danger of being fired. Often times in these situations, I like to take the temperature of PHT readers. So I asked the audience whose job they thought might be in the most trouble. Here are the results.

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tortsismad.jpgJohn Tortorella earned the most votes even though he is only about to enter his second year as the Rangers’ boss. Many Rangers fans would probably agree that the club’s biggest issues are rooted in their sometimes-befuddled general manager Glen Sather (more on him a second), but Tortorella’s contentious style could wear thin in the Big Apple.

Another high-profile coach on the hot seat is Ron Wilson of the Toronto Maple Leafs. The last two seasons have been absolutely brutal for the former Capitals and Sharks coach, whose reputation used to be that he couldn’t get good teams over the hump. I’d say he has more pressure than Tortorella overall, but fans might be correct in saying that Torts’ job is in (slightly) greater danger.

Bruce Boudreau is the most successful coach on the hot seat, but it’s not outrageous to wonder if he might get canned after another playoff letdown. Marc Crawford, Cory Clouston, Brent Sutter and Todd Richards also received votes.

A lot of people decided to write-in with an “other” choice. Some were super-cute (“Ted Nugent”), one might have been a Mormon (“Joe Smith”?), a few need to learn how to spell Claude Julien and one must really, really want to fire New York Rangers GM Glen Sather. Here are the 18 write-in votes.

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Claude Julien: 7
Lindy Ruff: 4
Paul Maurice: 2
Joe Sacco: 1
Joel Quenneville: 1
Joe Smith?: 1
Ted Nugent (of course): 1
Glen Sather: 1

While Julien and Ruff didn’t receive more results than the lowest ranked listed coach (Ottawa’s Cory Clouston), it’s reasonable to say that they might have gotten more if they were on the actual list. I’m guessing Ruff was a choice for those who simply figure he’ll drop off due to the law of averages. Julien seems like he’s done pretty well with an often-challenging Bruins team, bringing them within one game of the Eastern Conference finals two years in a row, but management might want even more next season.

Now, keep in mind, it’s not exactly as if just one coach could get fired next season. In fact, if only one head rolled in 2010-11, that would break a longstanding pattern of head coach unrest in the league. Just remember that even if GMs and owners won’t necessarily forget the past, everyone is 0-0-0 going into a new season … and some coaches do their best work with their heads on the chopping block.

Canucks announce Tortorella hire: ‘John knows how to win’

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Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis has confirmed the hiring of John Tortorella, who will become the 17th head coach in franchise history.

Here’s an excerpt of Gillis’ letter to ticketholders:

I’m very pleased to announce that we’ve just named John Tortorella as the new head coach of the Vancouver Canucks. It’s a great day for our organization, and I’m confident that this change will make an immediate and significant impact on the team.

Over the last several weeks, we have looked at every possible option for this role and we met with several exceptional candidates. We approached the process with completely open minds but with a very clear view of what we need to accomplish. As I said at the end of the season, we are an organization committed to doing everything possible to win, from ownership down. I feel John gives us the best opportunity to accomplish that goal.

John knows how to win. He’s won the Calder Cup and the Stanley Cup and has been very successful with a broad range of players and teams. Beyond John’s tremendous skill, insight and experience, he will be a great fit in terms of his values and work ethic. Off the ice, John and his wife have done inspiring work through the John and Christine Tortorella Family Foundation and he’s been a champion and a support for many people in need. John is also extremely excited about our players, our organization, our fans and our community.

The Canucks will officially introduce Tortorella to the media this afternoon but, prior to that, will hold a live online interview on the team website where ticketholders can submit questions for the new bench boss.

Tortorella already spoke with Canucks.com about his new role, and how he’ll need to adjust some of his, ahem, personality traits after five seasons in New York.

“I think it’s come to the point with me, where I’m kind of being defined as ‘that lunatic,’ not only on the bench, but also after games with media,” he explained. “I don’t want to be defined that way, but I do make my own bed in that type of situation and I need to make some corrections, I need to make some adjustments in that part of it.

“I’m dealing with an older team here, as I look at the roster, I think I need to respect the older players and some of the processes they’ve gone through and make adjustments with myself as far as how I handle them.”

Tortorella would like to see more legends coach in All-Star Game

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 29:  Metropolitan Division All-Stars head coach Wayne Gretzky reacts on the bench during the 2017 Honda NHL All-Star Tournament Final between the Pacific Division All-Stars and the Metropolitan Division All-Stars at Staples Center on January 29, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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There was an unexpected change to the 2017 All-Star Game when Wayne Gretzky, the NHL’s all-time leading scorer and arguably its greatest player ever, ended up coaching the Metropolitan Division team as a replacement for Columbus Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella.

Tortorella was unable to attend the festivities over the weekend due to a personal matter.

With Tortorella unavailable, we had a chance to see Gretzky coach two of the games best players (Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin) in the All-Star game and it seemed to be a pretty big success.

One person that wants to see more of that in the future? Tortorella.

“I’ll tell you, it turned out to be something really good to have Wayne Gretzky on the bench,” Tortorella told Tom Reed of the Columbus Dispatch following their return from the break.

“Maybe it’s a little bit of a message to the league. That’s what should happen, because the boys had a blast. Maybe that’s the way you go. I don’t want to dictate policy to the league, but that was a pretty cool thing.”

It was a pretty cool thing, and it probably wouldn’t be the worst idea to experiment with in the future. And if there is anything we know about the NHL when it comes to All-Star games, it is a league that is not afraid to experiment given the different formats it has tried over the years. The current 3-on-3 format seems to be the best and most popular of the bunch.

The one problem it might create is that even though there are probably a few coaches that would rather have the break to themselves, there are also certainly some that would love the opportunity to take part in the weekend that would miss out on it. Like Minnesota Wild coach Bruce Boudreau, for example.

Boudreau, the coach of the Central Division team at the 2017 game, seemed to be legitimately thrilled to be a part of it and called it a “tremendous honor” and admitted that he was “probably way more excited than I should be” to coach in the game.

Wayne Gretzky to replace Tortorella as Metropolitan Division coach at All-Star Game

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For one weekend Wayne Gretzky is going to be back behind an NHL bench.

Gretzky will serve as the coach of the Metropolitan Division team during the All-Star weekend in Los Angeles, serving as the replacement for Columbus Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella according to Pierre LeBrun and Elliotte Friedman.

Tortorella was originally supposed to coach the team but had to withdraw on Thursday due to the failing health of one of his family dogs.

Update: The NHL has officially announced that Gretzky will coach the Metropolitan Division this weekend.

Gretzky, arguably the greatest player in the history of the sport and the NHL’s all-time leading goal scorer and point producer, spent a significant portion of his career playing in Los Angeles with the Kings.

He was honored on Friday night as one of the Top 100 players in league history. The team he will be coaching this weekend has two of the six active players to be included on that list, Pittsburgh Penguins forward Sidney Crosby and Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin.

Following his playing days he was the coach of the Arizona Coyotes for four years between the 2005-06 and 2008-09 seasons.

Watch Live: 2017 NHL All-Star Game Live Stream