When the Vancouver Canucks fired John Tortorella, a lot of people thought he was done as an NHL coach.
I actually wasn’t one of those people, even though I thought he was an awful fit for the Canucks and spent a good deal of time trying to prove my point.
When the end finally, mercifully came to his time in Vancouver, I wrote that I could “see him having success with a young team with more impressionable” players.
Ryan Johansen, Boone Jenner, Alexander Wennberg, Brandon Saad, Ryan Murray, David Savard. All of those players are 24 or younger. The captain, Nick Foligno, is only 27.
Jackets forward Brandon Dubinsky knows what it’s like to play for Torts as a young guy.
“He got things out of me I didn’t know I had,” said Dubinsky, who was in his early 20s when he started playing for Tortorella in New York.
“He’s helped my career and I anticipate he’s going to help my career and help a lot of guys here, especially with the amount of young guys we have here.”
Nobody was talking about all the young guys the Canucks had when Tortorella took over. Vancouver was a veteran group that had enjoyed a great deal of success, nearly winning the Stanley Cup in 2011. And just as importantly, they’d enjoyed it playing a certain way.
Columbus hasn’t had that kind of success. Not even close. The Jackets’ minds should be wide open to whatever he’s preaching.
The Canucks, let’s face it, were also a team on the decline. Tortorella wasn’t wrong when he said the mix was stale. Why else do you think Vancouver hockey fans are so excited about Bo Horvat, Jared McCann, Jake Virtanen, and Ben Hutton? It’s because the Canucks haven’t had such a promising crop of kids in ages.
Look, I’m not saying Tortorella is absolutely going to be successful in Columbus. What I’m saying is that he’s got a much better chance than he did in Vancouver.
And he’d better make the most of it, because if he fails this time, he’s done as an NHL coach.