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


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 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.”

There’s another Tortorella-led team priding itself on blocked shots

John Tortorella

John Tortorella is stressing the need for shot blocking.

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before.

A few years back, as you’ll recall, Tortorella turned the New York Rangers into a bunch of bladed Mutombos, developing a defensive system and philosophy predicated on skaters — forwards and defensemen, specifically — getting in the way of pucks before the goalie did.

Now, that same system is at play in Columbus.

The Blue Jackets had one of their best wins of the season on Friday, beating Nashville 4-0. Most were quick to praise the work of Sergei Bobrovsky — who stopped all 39 shots faced for his first shutout of the year — but Bobrovsky was quick to praise the guys in front of him.

“There were so many blocked shots in that first period,” Bobrovsky said, per the Dispatch. “Fourteen of them, I think. That’s more than I stopped.”

All told, the Jackets blocked a season-high 26 shots against the Preds. And while most will argue these numbers aren’t actually a good thing — allowing 39 shots while blocking 26 means you’re rarely possessing the puck — the Jackets acknowledge this is now part of their identity.

Ryan Johansen told the Dispatch the team talks about shot blocking “a lot,” adding that it’s on frequent display during the club’s video sessions. Johansen also added that Tortorella “takes notice” of players that do it.

Torts, of course, has a strange relationship with shot-blocking.

He says he doesn’t necessarily coach it, insisting it’s a natural part of good team defense. And in 2012 — when pundits carved the Rangers during their block-filled playoff run, saying the style of hockey was borderline unwatchable — Torts got angry.

In response, he called critics of shot blocking “idiots” before explaining his strategic approach.

“We don’t sit in our meetings and say forget about carrying the puck and trying to score a goal and make a play, let’s just block shots all night long,” he said.

Here’s the thing, though: The mentality needed to feverishly block shots is sort of what Columbus needed when Tortorella took over. He always stresses that shot blocking is about sacrifice, grit and doing whatever it takes to win — and after getting so far behind the 8-ball with their 0-7 start, the Jackets were desperate to where they’d do anything to win.

And now, they’ve won six of their last nine games.

Video: Tortorella calm, analytical following loss to Jets


John Tortorella’s most famous dealings with the media tend to be the ones with, let’s say an edge to them, but the new Blue Jackets bench boss was calm and reflective following last night’s 3-2 loss to Winnipeg.

The general theme was that the Blue Jackets need to rebuild their confidence.

“I know it’s in the room, I know they’re better players offensively. We’re going to try to allow them to play and hopefully something happens the right way and it snowballs,” Tortorella said.

Some might have hoped that event already happened when the Blue Jackets won back-to-back contests, ending their season-opening eight-game losing streak. However, they’ve lost two games since then, dropping to 2-10-0 this season.

All of Columbus’ recent contests have been close and that at least is a change. Still, the at best mixed results towards the end of the month emphasize just how deep a whole the Blue Jackets are in. After all, this is a team that’s already nine months behind in the playoff race.

Tortorella did briefly touch on something else during the presser: That this is a young squad. There was a fair amount of hype about Columbus going into the campaign, which makes what’s happened all the more painful, but the core of this squad is almost entirely compromised of players still in their 20s. Brandon Saad and Ryan Johansen are just 23 and they could end up being a great duo for years to come.

So there’s still reason for cautious optimism in Columbus, even if this campaign is already looking bleak.

You can see Tortorella’s full press conference here:

PHT Morning Skate: Working with Tortorella

John Tortorella
AP Photo

PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Quite a few players were interviewed to discuss their experiences with new Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella. (Columbus Dispatch)

Remembering the debut of the “Russian Five,” which had its 20-year anniversary on Tuesday. (

Here are the highlights from St. Louis’ 2-0 victory over Tampa Bay:

Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie recalls his time South Florida as a child. Or more specifically, his interactions with Roberto Luongo, Peter Worrell, and a washing machine. (Denver Post)

Jeff Garlin from Curb Your Enthusiasm got a goal while playing the Chicago Blackhawks’ Shoot the Puck game. (CSN Chicago)

Things are falling into place for Adam Henrique now that his wrist is fully healed. (Bergen Record)

Tomas Hertl seems to be back on track after a rough sophomore campaign. (CSN Bay Area)

PHT Morning Skate: Hartley predicts friendlier relationship with Tortorella this time

John Tortorella

PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Calgary Flames coach Bob Hartley thinks things will be friendlier between him and John Tortorella now that they’re in different conferences. (Wes Gilbertson)

While we’re on the subject of Tortorella, if you missed it before, here’s a look back at his greatest soundbites:

After being shutout by Montreal on Tuesday, St. Louis Blues forward Steve Ott remarked that the Canadiens “defensive system is Carey Price.” (Fox Sports)

GoPro released a video featuring U.S. Olympian Hilary Knight, which both discusses the importance of being comfortable with yourself and shows off her skills on the ice:

Here are the highlights from Philadelphia’s 5-4 overtime win against Boston last night:

Capitals coach Barry Trotz attended a practice that his two nephews were a part of and gave their excited teammates some pointers. (Calgary Sun)

Nathan Gerbe on the advantages of meditation. (The News & Observer)