Largely out of the spotlight since being turfed by the Canucks last May, John Tortorella appeared on radio Friday morning and took full responsibility for his dismissal.
“I don’t think I did the job for our team in the second half [of the season] with our consistency, and I think that’s what cost me my job,” Tortorella explained on Tampa radio station 620 WDAE. “We couldn’t stop the losing streaks. We needed to win a couple games within those areas.
“Quite honestly, I deserved to be fired after that second half of the year.”
Tortorella — canned after the first of a lucrative five-year, $10 million deal — finished 36-35-11 last season in what was regarded as a disastrous campaign for both himself and the organization; the Canucks missed the playoffs for the first time in five years and their anemic offense finished 28th in the NHL.
That said, Torts did have some positive things to say about his time in Vancouver. He praised the group of players he coached and said he made strides to develop a better relationship with the media than he had in past stops, like New York.
But he also acknowledged the incident that left an indelible black mark on his time with the Canucks.
On Jan. 18 of last year, Tortorella lost the plot and went after Flames head coach Bob Hartley following a massive line brawl to start the game:
Tortorella was suspended 15 days for his antics — one of the longest coaching suspensions in NHL history — and admitted it marred his entire campaign.
“You’re talking to a guy that went down a hallway after another coach last year, which was so across the line, so embarrassing to my organization and my team,” Tortorella said. “You live and die by the sword a little bit there.
“That was really one of the bad spots of my season.”
Mathew Barzal has agreed to terms with the New York Islanders on an eight-year extension, a move that keeps the franchise’s top forward under contract for the balance of his prime.
The deal is worth $73.2 million with an annual salary cap hit of $9.15 million, according to a person with knowledge of the contract. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team did not announce terms.
Barzal has led the team in scoring, or been tied for the lead, every season since he became a full-time NHL player in 2017-18. He has 349 points in 411 regular-season and playoff games for the defensively stingy Islanders, who qualified for the postseason three consecutive times before an injury- and virus-altered last year.
“We feel recharged,” Barzal said recently. “We feel like everybody had good summers and worked hard, and we got that excitement back.”
Barzal, now 25, is coming off putting up 59 points in 75 games. The offensive star will now be asked to round out his game.
“I’m a fan because Mat has the ability to raise his game and to be a special player,” general manager Lou Lamoriello told reporters at the team’s practice facility on Long Island. “And now, with this contract and our faith in him, (it) puts that responsibility on him. We’re trusting that. It’s up to him to respond to that.”
OTTAWA, Ontario — Ottawa Senators goaltender Cam Talbot is expected to be out five to seven weeks with what the team called an upper-body injury.
The Senators initially called Talbot day to day with what they hoped was a minor injury. Instead he’s now expected to miss at least the first month of the NHL season.
Ottawa claimed goalie Magnus Hellberg off waivers from the Seattle Kraken upon announcing Talbot’s expected absence. Hellberg, who played for Sweden at the Beijing Olympics could split time with countryman Anton Forsberg while Talbot is out.
The Senators acquired Talbot from Minnesota during the offseason to make him their starter after the Wild opted against bringing him back along with Marc-Andre Fleury. Talbot, 35, had a 2.76 goals-against average and .911 save percentage this season.
Losing Talbot is a blow to the Senators, who also acquired winger Alex DeBrincat from Chicago and signed longtime Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux as part of a move toward contending and ending their playoff drought.
CHICAGO — Blackhawks forward Boris Katchouk will be sidelined for four to six weeks with a left ankle sprain, the team announced.
The 24-year-old Katchouk played almost 12 minutes during a 3-0 preseason loss to Detroit on Saturday night. He was acquired in a multiplayer trade with Tampa Bay in March.
The Blackhawks open the season on Oct. 12 at Colorado.
The team also said forward Jujhar Khaira is day to day with a right ankle injury.
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ducks defenseman Urho Vaakanainen was taken off the Honda Center ice on a stretcher after he crashed into the end boards in the first period of Anaheim’s preseason game against the San Jose Sharks.
The Finnish defenseman was conscious and alert with full movement in his extremities at UCI Medical Center, the Ducks said.
The frightening incident occurred midway through the opening period when Vaakanainen smashed into the boards at a dangerous speed behind the Sharks’ net. Vaakanainen appeared to be concentrating on the pass he had just made to Derek Grant, who scored the Ducks’ opening goal on the assist.
Vaakanainen’s teammates came onto the ice and gathered around him as he was taken away on the stretcher.
The Ducks acquired the 23-year-old Vaakanainen from Boston last March in the deal that sent longtime Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm to the Bruins. After recording two assists in 14 games for the Ducks last season, Vaakanainen is attempting to win a top-six role on Anaheim’s defense this fall.