Tag: David Booth

John Tortorella

Report: Tortorella wanted Burrows bought out, never spoke to AHL coach


Now that John Tortorella is out with the Vancouver Canucks, details about how he ran the show in his one season with the team are finding their way out.

Gary Mason of the Globe And Mail shared some curious tidbits he’s learned about how the embattled former coach handled the situation in Vancouver. To say the least, it’s an eye-opener.

— Tortorella wanted the organization to buy out forward Alex Burrows. In 49 games during an injury-addled season, Burrows, 32,  had five goals and 15 points and has three more years left on his contract with a $4.5 million cap hit.

— Injuries were a big problem for the Canucks this season and they had to dip into the AHL ranks for help often. Problem there, according to Mason, was Torts never spoke once with Utica Comets coach Travis Green. It’s tough to know who you’ve got on the way up if you’re not discussing it with the coach and that put former GM Mike Gillis even more on the spot to try and help the team.

— Torts wasn’t one much for practices this season, apparently. Mason said players felt the coach didn’t have the team practicing enough during the season. He also accused David Booth of being late for a meeting he was early for.

With this pile of apparent issues, it’s incredible to think the organization hurried to get Tortorella in place and signed him to a five-year contract last summer. Now that Torts and Gillis are both out of town, let’s just marvel at how this all came apart this season.

Here’s a list of the big mistakes Gillis made with the Canucks

Mike Gillis

For all the good Mike Gillis did during his tenure as general manager of the Canucks — helping them to Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final being at the top of the list — he made a number of key mistakes.

Those mistakes ultimately got him fired today. We’ve listed his biggest blunders below:

— In Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider, the Canucks once had two of the top netminders in the NHL. Today, they have neither. A number of factors conspired against Gillis during his attempts to trade Luongo, but it was Gillis who signed Luongo to the problematic contract in the first place. Without that front-loaded, salary cap-manipulating contract — one Gillis should’ve known could be an issue down the road, given Gary Bettman’s distaste for deals with that sort of structure — Luongo would’ve been much easier to move, and for a better return.

— Keith Ballard and David Booth were both acquired in trades with Florida. The former became a compliance buyout after playing sparingly for former coach Alain Vigneault; the latter could be a compliance buyout this summer. Enough said right there.

— It won’t be fair to judge Gillis’s draft record in its entirety for a few more seasons, but as of right now, not one of the 37 picks the Canucks made under his watch is a major contributor on the team. Vancouver hasn’t had many prime picks because of its regular-season success, but then, neither have the Blackhawks, and they’ve still managed to uncover players like Brandon Saad, Andrew Shaw and Marcus Kruger.

— Gillis admitted last week that the Canucks “deviated from some of the things that made us successful,” which is another way of saying he overreacted to painful playoff losses, misread the direction the league was headed, and abandoned his “fundamentals and principles” in the face of wide-spread criticism. “We just have to be committed and have the guts to be able to carry it out,” he said, rather tellingly.

— Related to the above point, after firing Vigneault, Gillis hired John Tortorella as the team’s new head coach. And don’t be fooled; this was not solely an ownership hire. Gillis, along with the rest of the hockey-ops department, was on board. It was a gamble that obviously failed to pay off. The Canucks have not responded to Tortorella’s approach, tactics-wise or motivation-wise. For Gillis, the only head coach he’s ever hired became a big part of his downfall.

Red Wings hope to handle Maple Leafs like a ‘wounded bear’

Maple Leafs Red Wings Hockey

With seven losses in a row and little rest following Friday’s defeat, the Toronto Maple Leafs may look like easy pickings to some. Detroit Red Wings defenseman Brendan Smith seems like he’s bringing a healthy amount of fear into Saturday’s big game, though.

“Extremely dangerous,” Smith told the Detroit Free Press. “It’s like that wounded bear that you can’t put down for the last little bit, and they have a lot of extra power. You’ve got to make sure that you come out hard, because right now, it’s kind of do-or-die for them. It’s going to be a very difficult game.”

(David Booth is nodding his head intensely at that analogy.)

Smith described the atmosphere around the Maple Leafs as “ruthless” and seems excited about the challenge that the Red Wings are about to face.

Click here to read more about how the Leafs view this contest as the biggest game of their season.

The Red Wings begin a three-game homestand against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday, so this is a big weekend for them, as well.

Canucks’ Booth after win: ‘We didn’t back down’

David Booth, John Tortorella, Zack Kassian, Henrik Sedin

The Vancouver Canucks could have caved while trailing the lowly Buffalo Sabres 2-0 and facing a steep climb to a playoff spot, but they instead fought back to win 4-2 on Sunday.

That effort didn’t elude David Booth, who scored the 4-2 tally:

Head coach John Tortorella was also impressed, noting that this win might spur them on for bigger things during a short two-game road trip.

That resiliency might be seen most clearly in Zack Kassian’s game, as he had plenty of assists (four) but estimated that he needed quite a few more stitches.

If the Canucks can muscle through those two road games (Minnesota on Wednesday, Colorado on Thursday), they have an opportunity to pile up points in a mad rush toward the end. They play five straight home games against tough playoff-caliber opponents before two (on-paper) softies at Edmonton (April 12) and a season-closing home game against Calgary.

They might need other teams to stumble, yet with three wins in four contests, at least they’re not backing down (as Booth might say).

It’s not all good news, however, as it appears that Henrik Sedin is banged up.

Canucks want ‘a player to help Kesler,’ says Gillis

Ryan Kesler

Just over a week away from the NHL trade deadline, Vancouver GM Mike Gillis knows what he needs to help his struggling team.

Problem is, getting that help will cost him.

“We’d like to get a player to help [Ryan] Kesler, but you have to give up a lot,” Gillis told Team 1040 radio, per The Province. “If it’s not a rental player or a younger player, you look at your options. We might make hard decisions or none.”

Kesler has played some wing this season, but is best suited as the club’s No. 2 center behind Henrik Sedin. Problem is, finding capable linemates for Kesler has been difficult, and Vancouver’s need for a top-six winger has been increased this season due to down years from Alex Burrows (zero goals in 28 games) and David Booth (five in 44). Zack Kassian has yet to emerge as the consistent presence required of a top-six guy and, outside of a solid campaign from Chris Higgins (16 goals), not many Canucks have stepped up to fill the void.

It seems unlikely the Canucks will go the rental route to find a solution. The team’s had little success with that over the last two years — Sammy Pahlsson and Derek Roy made minimal impacts (granted, both were centers) — and this hardly looks like a team ready to make a playoff run. As such, it’s possible Gillis could look to the farm for help at forward. Former first-round pick Nicklas Jensen has been playing well for AHL Utica lately, and could be on his way up to the big team.

“The most noticeable thing is his pace has picked up,” Gillis said of Jensen. “We’d like to leave him there (Utica) but our needs are important.”