The Vancouver Canucks are putting a lot of faith in head coach Willie Desjardins to return the team to the playoffs after a disastrous 2013-14 under since-fired John Tortorella.
All you have to do is read between the lines.
“Willie is a great teacher, motivator and communicator; his teams have competed with a style of play we believe will help us compete in our division and in the playoffs,” read the statement from general manager Jim Benning upon the hiring of Desjardins. (Emphasis ours.)
But defenseman Jason Garrison, now a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning, isn’t willing to pin the blame for last season’s failures on “one single person,” i.e. Torts.
“It’s a team game,” Garrison told TEAM 1040 radio today (audio). “Collectively, we didn’t get the job done.”
At the same time, Garrison conceded that adjusting to Tortorella’s system was, well, an adjustment.
“These guys that have been here for a while were so used to a certain system with [Alain Vigneault],” he said. “It was an adjustment for everyone on the team.”
An adjustment that, if you believe one report, may have led to frustration among certain Canucks over a perceived lack of practicing the new system.
As we wrote in our post on the signing of Ryan Miller, Vancouver’s braintrust clearly believes the system was to blame for much of the team’s struggles last season. From misusing the Sedins to playing too “slow,” Tortorella was lambasted for the job he did. Even Mike Gillis, when he was still the general manager, strongly insinuated that the way the Canucks were playing under Torts was the wrong way.
Now, though, the pressure is on Desjardins, Benning, president of hockey ops Trevor Linden, and a Canucks core (minus Ryan Kesler) to deliver on the promise to play “up-tempo” and “fast” and “bring exciting, winning hockey back to Rogers Arena.”