10 crazy things Tortorella did while coaching the Canucks

Dec 19 2017, 6:25 pm

Willie Desjardins and Alain Vigneault pale in comparison to John Tortorella.


  1. Like it or not, he’s the only one of the three to coach his team to a Stanley Cup.
  2. More importantly, he had more memorable moments in one year in Vancouver than the others in their 9 years combined.

Today the Canucks will face Tortorella for the first time since he set off a bomb in the Canucks organization, so it seems like a good time to have a laugh…

No, it’s too soon for that.

Anyways, hope you don’t cry too much.


10. Torts’ Twitter rules

Soon after starting with the Canucks, Tortorella put a partial muzzle on players’ Twitter accounts. Here’s what he said (according to accounts from the Star):

“There better be no information coming out of the locker room with that damn Twitter. It’s nothing but trouble.”

For Tortorella, Twitter was “nothing but trouble” unless he was using it to promote his dog walks.

He explained that, though.

“I think it’s tremendous for charity work… It helped me tremendously in our dog walk out in New York, and we raised a ton of money.

“It’s not for (posting): ‘Here I am. I’m having a roast beef sandwich. I’m saying hello to my fans.’

“I mean, that’s just ridiculous.”

He should have a talk with the Kardashians.


9. Yelling at David Booth for being late when he wasn’t

There are many options for which Tortorella moment broke the camel’s back when it came to losing his command over Vancouver’s dressing room.

One was told by Gary Mason on TSN 1040 radio:

“There was a team meeting in the morning. David Booth showed up five minutes before the meeting was supposed to start. I guess Tortorella didn’t see him or whatever.

The meeting starts, and Tortorella lights into David Booth for being late for the meeting and Booth says, ‘Uh wait a minute, I was here five minutes early,’ and I guess they got into a bit of a shouting match. The players were like ‘What the hell is going on here?’ because they knew Booth was there early.”


8. Having stars block shots

This time two seasons ago, Canucks fans weren’t arguing over a rookie getting two minutes less playing time than they wanted.

They had real problems.

Fans were worried about the team’s offensive leaders being asked to kill penalties, and even crazier, to block shots.

Torts had his reasons. He always did (from NHL.com).

“Blocking shots develops a culture…

And when you have a Sedin blocking a shot, watch what the bench does. It’s 10 feet tall. All those little things help in developing who you are as a team, as a group.”

In case you forgot, Alex Burrows was injured by October 5 that season because he was… blocking a shot.


7. Communicating with players

In the season following TortsGate, Burrows was on the radio talking about the difference in communication between Willie Desjardins and Torts:

Not even a “get well soon” after he broke his foot blocking a shot?


6. Communicating with anyone

Consistency is one thing people always want from players, coaches, bowel movements… anything in life really.

Tortorella’s communication was certainly consistent.

Here’s Gary Mason talking about Torts’ relationship with Vancouver’s farm team:

“Another thing that has come out just recently is his association with Travis Green, the coach in Utica… You would think that the lines of communication between those two would be constant and always open. That they’d be communicating about who’s playing well, and this is what we’re doing up here. A farm team should be a mirror image of whatever system the big club is playing.

John Tortorella did not have one single conversation with Travis Green all season. Not one.”

See? He consistently didn’t care.


5. Not learning from his mistakes

By the end of his season in Vancouver, you had to think Torts realized he’d messed up. He had to see he shouldn’t have asked the Sedins and Kesler to do… basically everything; he shouldn’t have made the goaltending decisions he did (more on that below); he shouldn’t have ground Alex Edler’s confidence into a pulp.


Here’s what Tortorella said in the press conference after he was let go:

“I know you guys think I’m hard, but I should have been harder.”

“Your team has to have an edge. It’s my job to bring it out.”

Torts thought he should’ve been even more intense.

He should’ve got the Sedins to play the entire game instead of half, to play defence as well as offence, he should’ve had Kesler play the full two minutes of every penalty kill, and he should’ve told Edler he was being a wuss for being upset he called him a wuss.


4. Not practicing the shootout

During the year of the Torts, the coach didn’t believe in practicing shootouts. He stuck to his guns until halfway through the season, when their shootout record was 2-6.

Finally Torts allowed an informal shootout practice.

He didn’t do it happily, though. Here’s what he said following that practice.

This, from the Globe and Mail:

“You cannot simulate the shootout in practice, no matter how you do it – so write your story.”

And this from CKNW:

“Don’t read into it too much because you just can’t simulate game situation that way, so we did it, whether it helps or not some guy’s can introduce or experiment with certain things.

“It’s impossible to simulate game situation in a shootout, it should be out of the league, that gimmick should be out of the league.”


3. Not practicing anything

Forget practicing shootouts, Torts had a problem with practice, period.

Gary Mason recounts:

“The players were unhappy about the amount of practice Tortorella was conducting. To put it a different way – players didn’t think they were practicing enough and that Tortorella took practice seriously enough…

Tortorella has different views about a whole bunch of things, about practicing the power play.

One of the things he did that really struck people as odd – he didn’t look at videotape of the team he was going to be facing.

There are coaches we know that coached in Vancouver that didn’t believe in coaching the power play. Mike Keenan was one of them.”


2. Benching Luongo for the Heritage Classic

While number one on this list is definitely the craziest thing Torts did in Vancouver, what he did to Roberto Luongo for the Heritage Classic was the dumbest.

When you think about it even today, it’s almost impossible to understand why he didn’t start Luongo.

We know the reasons – Luongo was tired after going to Sochi for the 2014 Olympics, Torts felt Lack gave his team a better chance of winning the game – but how he couldn’t see the big picture and realize the fallout he’d cause…

After two years of the Luongo-Schneider saga, Luongo was finally number one again. Canucks’ ownership and Mike Gillis had to beg him to come back to the team after they traded Cory Schneider. And in the most meaningful game of the season – a start he’d earned through seven years of toiling for the team, Torts benched him.

Tortorella’s decision to start Eddie Lack ahead of Luongo in the Heritage Classic is possibly the worst decision in the history of the Canucks.

The result – Luongo pushed for a trade – this time Mike Gillis gave Luongo’s agent permission to make a deal for his client… and he did.


1. Storming Calgary’s dressing room

Asked about his time in Vancouver Monday, Torts talked about how media and fans have no idea about many things that go on in the dressing room.

But there was one time everyone watching hockey in Canada, coast-to-coast, knew what was happening in Calgary’s.

For those who follow the Canucks, this is our Joe Carter moment – “I will always remember where I was when…”.

Too bad it’s not a winning moment, or even a happy moment. It’s just the most ridiculous moment in any Vancouver team’s history.

In a clash between the Canucks and Flames in January, Torts and Bob Hartley put their hatred for each other above everything else. They started five fighters on each side, and as soon as the ref dropped the puck, everyone was going at it.

Tortorella yelled at Hartley from his bench. He laid into him until finally he was tired and done.

Or so we thought.

As the teams went to their dressing rooms after the first period, Torts took a detour.

Asked months later what his intentions were, Torts said, “I was going to get him.”

DH Vancouver StaffDH Vancouver Staff

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