Well, the Canucks lost 5-2 to the Oilers, which is pretty damn lame. Or it could be awesome, considering they’re playing for nothing except a draft pick now (meaning losing is good).
But I’m not going to bother speaking about what happened in the game any more than that mention of the score. This is what’s important in Canuckland right now: Linden, Torts, Kes, and Mr. New GM (that’s his name for now).
Let’s get into the revelations during/after Saturday’s game.
1. Elliotte says the Torts decision may come quickly
During the Toronto game, the CBC‘s Elliotte Friedman said this regarding John Tortorella:
“I don’t think Linden wants to move quickly on (his coaching decision), but there might be so much that they have no choice but to make a decision one way or another reasonably fast.”
Yes Elliotte. There is “so much”…
I don’t know what he meant by that. So much dislike from the players? So much wanting him fired from the fanbase?
So much convincing discussions from Tortorella? (Horrible English, I know, but I had to make it work with “so much”). Read on to see what I mean…
2. Torts in job-saving mode part 1
After the game, the CBC‘s Scott Oake asked John Tortorella: “If you’re back next year, would you coach the same way?”
“There’s been a lot of talk about style of play…
The style of play that you have to play in this league, and all teams do it – it’s a hybrid. We’re not telling the Sedins to dump it in and go forecheck and bang around. We want plays off the rush. We want to be offensive, but we have to make the right decisions as we go through that neutral zone.”
Sure sounds like he’s been listening to Trevor Linden’s interviews where he talks about his philosophy on the game – Linden’s said he believes teams need to make sound defensive decisions first, but this doesn’t mean they’ll sacrifice offense.
Torts went on:
“Quite honestly, I don’t think people understand what the style of play is. For me it’s a hybrid. You need to have a foundation of how you play defense, you need to have some grind in your game, but you also have to create some offense off the rush, and your creative people have to be your best players.”
Oake: “Is there any concern that you might not be back?”
“That is out of my control. I don’t coach or worry about my job. I think you’re coaching the wrong way if you’re worried about saving your job.”
He may not coach for his job, but he definitely interviews with it in mind (as we’ve seen for the past two weeks).
We’ll see how susceptible Linden is to his charming ways next week.
3. Linden on Tortorella
Ron MacLean interviewed the Pres during the first intermission. He asked about Linden’s thoughts on Tortorella.
“First of all, John has got a great track record, he’s been around for a long time, he’s won a Stanley Cup, so I have a great deal of respect for him and his staff here. I want to get to understand more about John’s program next week.
I think you have to look at certain players and understand what part they’re coming from, and you have to take everything with a grain of salt.”
MacLean then asked about Linden’s philosophy that using four lines is important.
“Pat’s greatest skill was bringing all 12 people into the mix. When you assign roles to players on the third and fourth lines, they take ownership, and that’s important… If you look at the Boston model – Thornton is a fourth line guy, but such an important guy on that team. He’s included and has an important role on that team. That’s what makes teams.
I think you really have to distribute the ice time and give people an opportunity to feel like they’re making a difference.”
As Canucks fans, you all know Tortorella does not use all four lines well at all. Don’t worry, MacLean does too.
“That sounds like an indictment on John. How do you respond?”
“That’s something I want to understand. That’s my philosophy, but that’s not the make or break situation. Like I said, John’s got a great track record – he’s a Stanley Cup winning coach, so we need to sit down and talk about it. I need to hear his thoughts, not just on that issue, but there are many issues.”
4. Torts job-saving mode part 2
Oake asked Tortorella where the wheels fell off for the Canucks this year. I include this because it will very likely be the explanation he gives Linden next week.
“The California trips hurt us. I think for us as an organization, we’ve got to see what division we’re in right now, and those California teams are teams that we’re going to have to learn to play against…
And it’s not an excuse, but I’m a realist. We got banged up with some key guys and we just could not absorb those injuries and it eroded our hockey club. That falls on me, where I needed to get our team back. We changed our style. We had to be a little more conservative with all the injuries but I didn’t get my team back to that aggressive style of our first 40 games.
He did try to get them back there in the last three to four weeks though, and we’ve seen the results.
5. The all-important Kes update
Friedman on Kesler:
“I have a feeling what they may do is ask Kesler to go home and think about it and then maybe meet again to discuss his future with the team.”
More importantly, Linden on Kesler:
“I need to sit down with him and talk to him and see where he’s at. I haven’t spoken to Ryan about anything so I’m coming in neutral. I want to understand where he’s at so we can move forward…
Ryan is a big piece of this team. Obviously he’s a tremendous player, and that is a very big situation we’re going to have to deal with and decide how we’re going to move forward.”
ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun said during the week he thinks Linden may see Kesler as his biggest bargaining chip to move this summer (thanks to the Province’s Jason Botchford for digging the Lebrun interview up).
From Linden’s words above, I’d guess LeBrun is right. Linden doesn’t sound like he shares Mike Gillis’ view that Kesler’s attributes are exactly what the Canucks need. He’s leaving the door open for the huge splash.
6. Who’s the next GM?
Friedman talked about who Linden might consider for the GM position:
“(Linden) had a webcast interview the other day where he said maybe his next GM is someone he played with. He spent his first two years in Vancouver with Jim Benning.”
Boston’s assistant GM, Jim Benning, seems to be the front-runner to every hockey insider right now. Right after saying that, Elliotte dropped this:
“But there’s another local guy.”
Unfortunately Glenn Healy jumped in and started suggesting Markus Naslund at this point, which proves once again he took too many shots to the head during his career (Linden has said he wants someone with NHL experience).