John Tortorella was officially named the 17th head coach in Vancouver Canucks history today. When Tortorella’s name was first in the discussion for filling the Canucks head coaching vacancy, many fans were left scratching their heads. How could Tortorella’s fiery and bombastic style mesh with Vancouver’s hockey crazed media? And how would the players react to an intense and in-your-face coach, after having a rather relaxed coach in Alain Vigneault.
Canuck Dale Weise was critical of Tortorella’s style saying:
“I think you can kind of look and see his style is kind of fading out of coaching. There’s a way to be hard on guys and push guys but I think nowadays you’ve got to be a little bit more of a communicator. You can’t put push guys in the dirt and expect them to get out of there themselves.”
However, when you watched Tortorella in his first press conference with the Vancouver media yesterday, you wouldn’t think that he was the same coach who was dropping F-bombs left, right and centre in his soundbytes. Instead, he was laid back, relaxed and answered every question thoughtfully and thoroughly.
He even gave the fans of Vancouver a little bit of self-reflection when asked about his reputation for handling the media:
“Have I had mistakes? Absolutely. I make my own bed in this type of situation with the perception of myself in the media. But I know how important it is with this job especially here in this city. So I am dedicated to make that work and cultivate a relationship with the media, I know how important that is.”
Who thought a response like that would come from the guy who told the media to “kiss his ass” just a month ago when he benched Brad Richards in the playoffs for the New York Rangers.
Of course Tortorella had to convince Mike Gillis that he can have a positive relationship with the media, or else he would never have been hired here. And for those who think he is going to come in here and rule with an iron fist have to realize that Tortorella is not an idiot. He is a proven Stanley Cup champion and he knows that he has to build a relationship with the players, because if he alienates them, this team will miss the playoffs and Tortorella will be out the door faster than you can say Francesco Aquilini.
No need to panic fellow Canuck fans, this isn’t Dictator Torts coming to town.
Watch the rest of Tortorella’s first press conference as Canucks head coach.
Written by Trevor Beggs, a Contributor at Vancity Buzz. Follow Trevor on Twitter @beggs37.