It was announced today that John Tortorella would be coaching the U.S.’s entry into the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.
— SportsCentre (@SportsCentre) September 21, 2015
John Tortorella, if you remember (and how could you forget, really) was last seen coaching the Canucks in 2013-14 to one of their worst seasons in recent memory.
Despite his love of blocked shots (the pumpkin spice latte to his hockey season, he had to have them all the time), despite his willingness to attack an opposing coach and throw down in the hallways, despite the fact the Canucks got so desperate to have him to show up to work that they had a bed installed in his office at Rogers Arena, the Canucks somehow only amassed 83 points in his one season in Vancouver. Shocking.
Now, to be fair to Tortorella, he does have a Stanley Cup victory on his resume thanks to the 2004 Tampa Bay Lightning Final series win over the Calgary Flames. He also had several strong seasons coaching the New York Rangers, before coming to Vancouver.
So it’s not completely crazy to suggest that his time in Vancouver was a blip on the radar, and that he would make a fine reclamation project. After all, there were rumours that the owners of the Canucks pushed for the Torts hire, and that Gillis was never fully on board with it. Rumours that so incensed Francesco Aquilini that he reached out to a reporter to call him a “prick” for suggesting he played a role in the hiring, and then threatened legal action.
That aside, the Torts hire didn’t make a lot of sense stylistically either. The Canucks, after all, were very much built to be a puck possession team, a style they used to get themselves all the way to 2011 Final. John Tortorella is admittedly a much more defensive coach, and almost immediately he had the team collapsing back, blocking shots, and playing a much more dump and chase, grinding type of hockey. A style that didn’t suit up very well with the teams top players, most notably the Sedins.
Fast forward to today, and now people are wondering if Tortorella was merely a victim of circumstances in Vancouver, or if it was a sign that the game has passed him by.
This is why the World Cup should be a good situation for Tortorella to convince the NHL he can still coach. It’s a small tournament and he is going to have a strong US team under him. The only problem he might run into is convincing a bunch of NHL players to block shots in a weird tournament that doesn’t really mean anything.
What do you think? Do you think it’s a good hire? Or do you think Torts’ time is done, and it’s time for fresh blood in the coaching ranks?