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.”

Tortorella says ‘there’s been zero discussion’ about taking the ‘C’ away from Foligno

Columbus Blue Jackets' Nick Foligno, left, checks Washington Capitals' Zach Sill during the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)
Associated Press

After posting career numbers in 2014-15, Nick Foligno has had a tough time producing this season.

Current Jackets coach John Tortorella wasn’t behind the bench when Foligno was named the captain, but despite questioning the leadership in his locker room on more than one occasion, Tortorella has no plans to remove the “C” from Foligno’s jersey.

“It’s been a bad year for Nick, and he has to understand that and he has to look at himself,” Tortorella said, per the Dispatch. “He needs to get himself straightened up. Nobody else can do it other than him.

“Nick is our captain. There’s been zero discussion of (changing captains).”

The 28-year-old hasn’t recorded a point in his last 11 games and he has just nine goals and 34 points in 67 games this season. Those numbers are way down from last year, when Foligno scored 31 goals and 73 points.

“There’s a lot of things about my game this season that have just … fooled me,” Foligno said. “I’ve gone through every emotion possible. Anger. Frustration. Disappointment. Eventually you realize that those things don’t make it better.

“I’m trying to be a good leader for this team and find my way through it. I know it’s not going to last. I know I’ll be a better player for it and come out on the other side.”

Being a rookie captain in the NHL isn’t always easy (just ask Max Pacioretty, for example). But it’s good to know that Tortorella won’t take drastic measures after a failed season from the Blue Jackets. As you may remember, Torts stripped Vincent Lecavalier of the captaincy when they were both in Tampa Bay a few years ago.


Seth Jones ‘has handled himself very well’ since joining Jackets, says Tortorella

Columbus Blue Jackets' Seth Jones, left, works for the puck against Pittsburgh Penguins' Chris Kunitz during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Columbus, Ohio Friday, March 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon)
Associated Press

Seth Jones will be hitting the ice in Nashville for the first time since the Predators traded him to the Columbus Blue Jackets earlier this year.

Jones spent the first two and half years of his NHL career with the Preds and he’s excited to be going back to his old stomping grounds.

“It’s going to be exciting,” Jones said, per The Dispatch. “I’m looking forward to it. I was there two years, and it’s the team that drafted me. So it’ll be a special game, for sure.

“I enjoyed the whole experience I had there. I had an opportunity to play at a young age, and I had an opportunity to learn from veteran defensemen. I learned a lot while I was there.”

The 21-year-old has not only seen his offensive production increase since his move to Columbus, but he’s also seen his role change quite a bit. In Nashville, he played over 20 minutes a night in 14 of 40 games this season and averaged 19:39 of ice time. In Columbus, he hasn’t played less than 21:16 in a game. He’s averaging 24:28 under head coach John Tortorella.

“We’ve put him in a totally different position than he was in Nashville,” coach John Tortorella said. “I think he has handled himself very well.”

Jones made some strides during his time with the Predators. He was able to develop at a slower pace because he had talented defenseman like Shea Weber and Roman Josi going up against the opposition’s top lines. That may have been a good approach for him early in his career, but now he’s ready to accelerate his development.

“I think I was developing well in Nashville,” Jones said, per the Tennessean. “At the same time, obviously everyone wants to develop as fast as they possibly can, and I’m the same way. So I think here I can develop a little bit quicker.

“(It’s different) watching someone play the minutes. You have to learn from experience, I think.”


Johansen: ‘I wish I was still a Blue Jacket’

Jackets’ Johnson to have shoulder surgery, will miss rest of season

Ottawa Senators  v Columbus Blue Jackets

The Blue Jackets announced this morning that defenseman Jack Johnson will have arthroscopic shoulder surgery tomorrow. He’ll miss the rest of the season.

Johnson hasn’t played since Feb. 25 when he was forced to leave a game against the Devils. It was originally estimated he would be out two weeks with what the club called an upper-body injury. But head coach John Tortorella told reporters last week that Johnson was still “a distance away” and would see a doctor again.

Johnson will finish the season with six goals and eight assists in 60 games. The 29-year-old averaged 24:11 in ice time.

Tortorella drops Forrest Gump reference to show disdain for coach’s challenge

Columbus Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella, center, reacts to a penalty between Boone Jenner, left, and Jared Boll during the second period an NHL hockey game against the  Winnipeg Jets  in Columbus, Ohio, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015. Winnipeg won 3-2. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon)
Associated Press

John Tortorella isn’t a fan of the coach’s challenge, and he let everyone know it on Monday night.

After he challenged the call on the ice, Torts was expecting the officials to overturn Loui Eriksson‘s first period goal because he felt the Bruins forward’s skate impeded goalie Joonas Korpisalo from making the save.

The officials decided to stick with the original call. Good goal.

Does Tortorella have a case? You be the judge.

The Blue Jackets won the game, 6-4, but you can just imagine what Torts’ mood was like after the game.

“Just get rid of the coach’s challenge. Just get rid of it,” said Tortorella, per The Dispatch. “The whole (reason for) being of the coach’s challenge is to get it right. If we can’t get it right on that call, then get rid of the coach’s challenge. All I did was waste a timeout. It’s discouraging. That is a no-brainer call. If they vote again for it, no coach’s challenge as far as this organization is concerned.”

When he was asked about Bruins head coach Claude Julien challenging a call later in the game (the ruling went Columbus’ way), Torts offered this gem of a quote:

“Claude does the right thing to make the call. Why not? It’s a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.”