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


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.


(click to enlarge)

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.

claudejulienhotseat.jpgWrite-in votes

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’


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 liked what he saw from Wennberg in his first career fight

COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 13:  Alexander Wennberg #10 of the Columbus Blue Jackets skates after the puck during the game against the Boston Bruins on October 13, 2016 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

The Columbus Blue Jackets extended their winning streak to eight games on Friday night with an impressive 4-1 win over the Calgary Flames, moving them to within two points of first place in the Metropolitan Division with still three games in hand on the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The game started with a little bit of a bang when Blue Jackets forward Brandon Saad was absolutely run over by Flames rookie Matthew Tkachuk.

There was an immediate response from an unlikely player when Alexander Wennberg went after Tkachuk and dropped the gloves in his first NHL fight.

Here is the entire sequence.

It didn’t last very long, and Tkachuk seemed to get the better of him in the end, but it was all still enough to get some praise from Wennberg’s coach, John Tortorella.

“Great left,” said Tortorella when he was asked about it after the game. “Great left, and then he switched to a right. I loved what I saw out of Wenny there, and he hit him right on the button. I thought he was one of our best players tonight, too.”

“I’ve talked since I’ve been here, I think Wenny needs to be more involved, maybe not to fight, but in the inside part of the game. He has done that this year. Before camp started we talked about responsibility as a third year pro. He is not a rookie anymore, he is not feeling his way through the league, he needs to take more responsibility with his play, and he has done that. For him to stand in there, right in front of the bench, that’s important for the bench to see that guy stand in there.”

That is pretty much the response you should expect from Tortorella because he absolutely loves that sort of game. But let’s be honest, that is not what the Blue Jackets need Wennberg to be doing because there is always going to be an injury risk there. The last thing the Blue Jackets need at this point is for one of their most talented players and their second leading scorer to be lost to an injury in something like that (we recently saw Arizona lose one of its best players, Max Domi, to an injury after he was involved in a fight). Especially when it was in response to what appeared to be a legal hit. But it all worked out this time.

Wennberg has 25 points (six goals and 19 assists) in 28 games for the Blue Jackets this season.

With another shutout win, Johnson tightens grip on Calgary’s starting gig

COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 23:  Chad Johnson #31 of the Calgary Flames stops a shot from Brandon Saad #20 of the Columbus Blue Jackets during the first period on November 23, 2016 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) Journeyman goalie Chad Johnson, in his first season with Calgary, is beginning to show he can be a source of stability for the up-and-down Flames.

Johnson made 34 saves for his second shutout in five starts, leading Calgary over the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-0 on Wednesday night.

“We just wanted to come in here and stick to our system,” said Johnson, who also blanked the Minnesota Wild on Nov. 15. “Get some pucks deep and wait for our opportunities and we did that and capitalized on the chances that we had.”

Johnson is 4-1 in his past five starts.

Troy Brouwer and Micheal Ferland scored for Calgary, which has sought consistency between the pipes during the early part of the season. The Flames, whose maligned special teams came up big in this one, have traded wins and losses for five games.

“Johnny made some big saves for us and that breeds confidence throughout the lineup,” Calgary’s Matt Stajan said.

Columbus dropped to 10-3-3 in its last 16 and has lost two straight at home since rolling off seven wins in a row, a franchise record.

“We were on the outside all night long,” Columbus coach John Tortorella said. “Chad saw every shot. I thought our first period was good but from then it went downhill.”

Calgary, ranked 29th in penalty killing entering the game, was perfect during a long Columbus power play in the second period, and then its league-worst power play added a goal in the third.

Calgary led 1-0 despite being significantly outshot before Ferland snapped one past Sergei Bobrovsky from the slot at 6:25 of the third. Leading to the score, Dennis Wideman kept the puck in the zone on a play that Markus Hannikainen tried to skate out of danger.

Johnson did the rest, calmly turning aside shot after shot.

“There were times when we were on our heels but I think we still stuck together and battled as a group,” he said.

After a scoreless first period, the action picked up in the second. Matthew Tkachuk‘s double minor for high-sticking 14 seconds in put the Blue Jackets on the man advantage, but the league’s top power play only mustered one shot. The Flames allowed three power-play scores Monday in a loss at Buffalo.

“Sloppy, it hurt us momentum wise,” Tortorella said. “Four minutes we really had nothing accomplished. I think they end up with a couple of scoring chances.”

Calgary took the lead shortly after aided by a bad sequence for Seth Jones. He was flat footed in his own zone when his pass was easily intercepted by Brouwer at the blue line. Kris Versteeg got the puck and marched around Jones, threading a pass back to Brouwer for the doorstep tap-in to make it 1-0 at 6:35.

“I just tried to make a play and get it over to Brouwer going to the net,” Versteeg said.

Five minutes later, Cam Atkinson zoomed in on a breakaway, but Johnson gloved his shot.

“We were able to turn a corner after he (Johnson) stopped that breakaway in the second and we know it wasn’t pretty before that,” Stajan said. “But then we started to get pucks deep and shots on net. We played a solid third period. It’s a good road win.”

NOTES: Brouwer’s goal was his first in 10 games. … Jones played his second game since missing six with a foot injury. … Columbus LW Matt Calvert, who last Friday scored an overtime goal to down the Rangers after getting 36 stitches in his forehead during the game, was scratched with an upper-body ailment. … Versteeg returned after missing nine games with a bad groin. …Calgary C Sam Bennett skated in his 100th career game.


Blue Jackets: Visit Tampa Bay on Sunday.

Flames: Play the third of a season-long six-game road trip Sunday in Boston.

Tortorella said very Tortorella things after Blue Jackets loss

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 16:  Head coach of Team USA John Tortorella looks on during practice at the World Cup of Hockey 2016 at Air Canada Centre on September 16, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

After handing the Montreal Canadiens that historic 10-0 defeat, the Columbus Blue Jackets dropped a 2-1 overtime loss to the St. Louis Blues after Vladimir Tarasenko‘s OT-winner.

Deep down, John Tortorella might not be so upset.

They took three of a possible four points from a back-to-back set against two likely playoff teams. The Blue Jackets are also an impressive 5-1-2 in their last eight games, largely erasing the bad taste from a tough start to 2016-17.

Still, this is Torts, so he’s going to get upset about things, often to the hockey world’s collective entertainment.

Tortorella wasn’t happy that captain Nick Foligno was stuck fighting “that animal” Ryan Reaves:

So, he said this:

Yeah. Check this video for a little more.

Seth Jones backs up the notion that the Blue Jackets didn’t bring their A-game to the contest, but only Torts can say these things in a such a … well, Torts way.

Here’s video of that Tarasenko overtime-winner: