Spitballin’ on Torts reformed, Gallagher’s flip-flop, and more animal nicknames

Spitballin’ (or Super Pass ITBulis: All In, if you love adventurous acronymizing) is a feature that allows us to touch on a multitude of things really fast, because in the world of hockey, there are always lots of things to find and colour. Here are a few quick topics.

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Torts Reformed

John Tortorella’s introduction to the Vancouver Canucks was calm, cool, collected, and, most of all, controlled. The Canucks made sure that his first facetime with fans was in a friendly, informal setting, as John Shorthouse asked questions submitted by season ticket holders and fans.

It was repeatedly emphasized, both in the Q&A and the subsequent press conference, that Tortorella recognized the issues with his relationship with the media, that he took responsibility for it, and was going to work at improving it. It was very clearly a point of emphasis from Mike Gillis and, in a market like Vancouver where the Canucks are the biggest/only show in town, the media can be brutal.

So it’s no accident that Tortorella’s introduction to the media was nice and friendly.

Of course, those outside of Tampa Bay and New York have a skewed view of Tortorella in the first place, as the only time we ever saw anything from a Tortorella press conference is when he said something brusque and rude and it got repeatedly shown on Sportscentre. The fact that those clips of him exist obviously shows that Tortorella’s relationship with the media isn’t perfect, but the majority of his press conferences will likely be similar to Tuesday’s: calm, relaxed, and informative.

And, apparently, it worked. Iain Macintyre summed it up:

He utterly disarmed accusers when finally introduced by general manager Mike Gillis as the Canucks’ first American head coach. Tortorella was contrite and apologetic, chastened and accountable for his history of belittling the media and, occasionally, embarrassing players.

He left nothing with which reporters could attack him because Tortorella owned it all.

Nothing with which to attack him? Tony Gallagher accepts your challenge…

Gallagher: Sedin twins have things too easy, but shouldn’t be asked to do too much

Tony Gallagher wasn’t a big fan of Alain Vigneault. This past season, his new catch phrase was “country club,” criticizing how Vigneault gave his veteran players a lot of leeway and control of the locker room.

For instance, at the end of the Canucks’ season, when Henrik Sedin answered questions from the media, Gallagher took the opportunity to rip into the Canucks captain for not ripping into the Canucks coaching staff, and suggested that he didn’t do so because he has thing so easy:

The twins never have to kill penalties, they get the lion’s share of every power play — no matter how poorly things are going — they start almost every shift in the offensive zone and when things go awry the coach never fingers them publicly.

So, now the Canucks have a new head coach, one who specifically said that the Sedins will kill penalties during his introductory press conference. Gallagher’s response?

The Sedins, of course, say they’d love to kill penalties, and perhaps they would, with Henrik saying he would even sacrifice a minute of five-on-five time to do it.

Wonderful thought, but it’s a study in stupidity. Consider they’re already going to be playing pre-season games, a full season (and these two rarely miss games) including a trip halfway around the world to play the Olympics on a team that already leads the league in travel. And then you expect them to take the dings that come with penalty-killing and still have something left for the playoffs at age 34. Good luck with that.

So, to recap, Vigneault was too soft on the Sedins, typified by keeping them off the penalty kill, but Tortorella is stupid for suggesting that he will have them kill penalties.

Thanks, Tony.

Ryan Kesler: “We need to piss people off.”

I could not love this quote from Kesler any more than I already do. From Ben Kuzma at The Province:

“We need to be tougher to play against,” said Kesler, who played for Tortorella on Team USA at the 2010 Olympics. “We need to piss people off. I like that he expects it from everybody. I’ve been doing it my whole career, so my game is not going to change that much.

“There’s going to be a learning curve, but we all want to win and we want to win now. I like his style and that he’s going to hold guys accountable. He’s all about compete and a very detailed coach. You can hold yourselves accountable in the room all you want, but it becomes reality when the coach does it. Hopefully, he doesn’t need to do it too much.”

One of the points of emphasis this past season was to tone down the post-whistle shenanigans, but considering that is one of the main ways you can “piss people off” on the ice, that might change in the coming season.

Canucks get permission to interview Mike Sullivan

Currently an assistant coach in New York, Mike Sullivan has coached with John Tortorella since 2007 with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Sullivan has two seasons of head coaching experience with the Boston Bruins, finishing first and fifth in the Northeast Division before and after the 2004-05 lockout.

In New York, he was given credit for the Rangers’ sound defensive structure, but was also in charge of the powerplay, which was terrible the last couple seasons, so the Canucks may want to look elsewhere for someone to coach the powerplay.

Canucks reveal two more animal nicknames

During the 2011-12 season, the biggest Canucks-related story was that they all had animal nicknames. No other story was as important as this one. David Booth is Grizzly, for obvious reasons, Keith Ballard is Wolf, Ryan Kesler is Bull, Alex Edler is Eagle, and we’re pretty sure they call Jannik Hansen Honey Badger.

We later found out that Sami Salo’s animal nickname is Owl, while Kevin Bieksa let slip that his own animal nickname is Wolverine a couple months later. The most hilarious part of the whole thing was that Booth was banned from giving out animal nicknames by the “council” of Bieksa, Hamhuis, and Ballard.

Then things went silent on the animal nickname front, which was tremendously depressing. But now that the Canucks are releasing off-season King of the Rink videos, we’ve discovered two more, revealing that the Canucks haven’t stopped giving their teammates animal nicknames, they’re just keeping them a secret from us.

Bieksa and Hamhuis seem unsure at first, but when Garrison asks Bieksa a bit later in the video, Bieksa says, “Don’t we have an animal name for you yet?” and Garrison immediately replies “Armadillo” and starts laughing. It’s apparently for his “tough outer shell.”

For Alberts, his nickname is apparently Giraffe. “That’s what I’ve been called” he says as he shrugs his shoulders. Considering it’s Ballard, an official member of the council, who calls him that, I’d say we’re safe with saying that Giraffe is definitely Alberts’ animal nickname.

And I find it absolutely hilarious that Ballard and Alberts both agree that he looks like “skinny Kevin James.”

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20 comments

  1. peanutflower
    June 26, 2013

    Kesler and Burrows et al are probably licking their chops at the prospect of a season filled with coach-endorsed shenanigans. Reading an interview with Bruins Horton comparing Canucks to Hawks — still don’t get the “everybody hated them” thing — it might be nice to see the Canucks honestly and truly win that hate back in an outstanding fashion and earn the sobriquet once and for all, and win while they’re doing it. If that’s what it takes, that’s what it takes. I don’t care.

    Tony Gallagher should be very afraid of Tortorella. Very afraid.

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    • Tom 1040
      June 26, 2013

      Ummm, as I remember, they were hated by everyone because of their whining and diving.

      The Canucks are NOT a tough team and will likely come 2nd in most of those battles.

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    • nick
      June 26, 2013

      Hey peanutflower, can you post a link to that Horton interview? Cheers.

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  2. Nee
    June 26, 2013

    “We need to piss people off. ”

    Does this mean the return of “Jerk Puck”? I know it gave us a bit of a bad reputation in 2011, but it also had people talking about the Canucks all the time because the team drove people nuts. Which was fun. And I would gladly be the black sheep of the NHL if we can use it to our advantage. : )

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  3. Kenji
    June 26, 2013

    If I had my way, NHL hockey would be all about skill and speed and clean hits, with no jerkiness whatsoever. All players would be sweethearts, comporting themselves with dignity and class, never voicing blame or hate, but resolving to do better.

    I’m not going to have my way, so, if the Canucks have the reputation of being horrible people, and if being a horrible person leads to playoff success, then they may as well take advantage of it!

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  4. jer
    June 26, 2013

    I know we all hate Gallagher and all that, but I don’t think that’s as egregious a ‘flip-flop’ as you’re suggesting. You don’t link the first article so I can’t go back and look at the specific context, but it seems to me he’s accurately pointing out that the Sedins had it pretty good under Vigneault – not having to kill penalties being one of the examples cited. And he’s more or less correct, though I recall hearing from AV that the Sedins asked him to put them out on the PK on more than one occasion.

    To then suggest that putting the Sedins out to kill penalties is not the best asset management, particularly in a year where fatigue is likely to be a prominent factor given the extra Olympic games, is hardly inaccurate or a significant reversal from his previously stated position, in my view. The case he’s making, (and has been making for a while) it seems, is that this year in particular the Canucks will have to be aware of ice time and fatigue, with so many of their players aging AND expected to play significant minutes in Sochi.

    I know Gallagher can be hard to stomach sometimes, but I think we sometimes look too hard for evidence of his senility.

    I mean, good heavens. ;)

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    • Daniel Wagner
      June 26, 2013

      Gallagher railed against the “country club” thing all season, however, and criticized the Sedins for contributing to it. He mentioned on the radio several times how they didn’t play on the PK. That was just the most recent example of it in print.

      I meant to link the article, though, that’s my bad. I’ll get it in there.

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      • jer
        June 26, 2013

        no worries on the link. my quibble is merely this: i don’t think he was suggesting that not playing the Sedins on the PK was a negative thing – more a thing that works out really well in the Sedins’ favor, that they ought to be really grateful for. And I don’t think questioning the wisdom in making them penalty killers is contradictory to pointing out the relative ease afforded the Sedins in their zone starts. YMMV of course. :)

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  5. akidd
    June 26, 2013

    well, i guess it’s going to be tortorella’s way from now on. so rather than adjusting zone starts it will be everybody doing everything. from specialists to renaissance men.

    i do hope tortorella does his homework this summer though. he needs to get to know this team and as well the western conference. i think that will be quite a learning curve. i am buoyed however by boudreau’s success this past season. the adjustment might be a bit easier when you don’t have to put the skates on yourself and keep up.

    tortorella talked about recovery and travel too and honestly admitted that he’s a babe in the woods about such matters. stars on the pk might be an eastern luxury.

    also tortorella talked quite a bit about the importance of youth under the cap. i’m guessing he hasn’t had time to look over the prospects list yet. the 3rd time he mentioned it i thought i noticed gillis give him a little kick under the table:)

    well, the die is cast so we’re just going to have to wait and see. meanwhile it’s ‘get busy’ time for gillis. let the trades/ buyouts/ f.a. signings/drafting begin!

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    • Daniel Wagner
      June 26, 2013

      Actually, akidd, the Rangers’ pattern of zone starts was very similar to the Canucks’. The offensive stars still got the bulk of the offensive zone starts, while others took on the defensive zone starts. I wouldn’t be surprised to see that pattern continue. He just expects defensive responsibility even from those who get those offensive zone starts. Not sure how that plays out on the ice. I guess we’ll see.

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      • Huh?
        June 27, 2013

        “I wouldn’t be surprised to see that pattern continue. He just expects defensive responsibility even from those who get those offensive zone starts.”

        Doesnt sound much different than AV.

        Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.

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  6. mb13
    June 27, 2013

    LOL – kesler. Isn’t that the guy that threw a punch at Chara and then ran for his life?

    That’s what a winner is all about. The Canucks are good at talking the talk but never walk the walk.

    Did anybody notice when the series turned in Chicago’s favour last week? It was when Toews stood up to Chara and kept coming back for more. The Canucks don’t have that. They like to think they do – but they don’t.

    OH – and GMMG, is he going to change to a high tempo type of offense because that style won the cup? LOL – that’s the problem with being a copy cat – you’re always behind the trend.

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    • canuck haters suck
      June 27, 2013

      mb13 give it a rest. Kesler is a warrior and plays the game the way it should be played with the exception of the odd dive. Considering his size and the way he plays, I hardly think he warrants criticism from the likes of you. The Canucks were also one of the first teams to go high tempo under Crow and that preceded AV and GIllis. You play the game that best suits your lineup, not copy what the Champions do and the Canucks have always doen that reasonably well even if they havent won a Cup. Toews was hardly the catalyst for the Cup win either…the 3rd and 4th line guys were the difference for Chicago along with Crawford and excellent puck moving defence.

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      • Dougster
        June 27, 2013

        Agreed, Crawford deserved the Conn Smythe… The Blackhawks would have lost that series with anything but superlative goaltending. GMMG has some serious work to do much of it in the next 7 days. When the dust settles it will be very interesting to see what pieces Torts will have to work with.

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        • Harrison Mooney
          June 27, 2013

          I wouldn’t have voted Crawford for Conn Smythe. He was good, but goalies are handed that award just for being the guy in net for four wins. I think you have to go above and beyond the job description to get it. Kane was a quality choice.

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  7. mb13
    June 27, 2013

    Kesler a warrior? LOL – warriors do not dive. full stop.

    They play the game and don’t whine like little babies to a referee for half a game.

    They certainly don’t punch someone and then run for their life. He couldn’t have tried to get out of there any faster.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6FLjxDYHh6Y

    @ 16 seconds it gets funny.

    LOL – you guys need to take off your Canucks goggles and realize that Kesler (and Bieksa) will HATE playing for Tortorella. They hate criticism from Vignault – now imagine getting criticism to their face. Will Kesler run from Tortorella like he did Chara – seems like that his M.O.

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    • Daniel Wagner
      June 27, 2013

      Holy crap, that’s a bizarre interpretation of that video. Kesler was pushed away by the linesman. Goodness gracious.

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      • mb13
        June 28, 2013

        If Kesler wanted any part of Chara a linesman would not have been something to hold him back. He provided absolutely zero resistance. Chara was being held back by Sedin and managed to take a stride or two forward towards Kesler and then realized it’s pointless seing as Kesler is doing the ole “don’t hold me back while hiding behind the person holding him back”.

        Trust me – Kesler was thankful the linesman was getting him out of there.

        Contrast that to Toews who pretty much took everything Chara had to offer. He might have won battles but he engaged. And his team won.

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        • Daniel Wagner
          June 28, 2013

          Yep, a big linesman pushing back an off-balance Kesler is exactly the same as a Sedin trying to hold back Chara. Yep.

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    • akidd
      June 28, 2013

      yup, a bizarre interpretation. seconded. a ‘goodness, gracious me’ from me too, especially considering the thomas slash. a bit unsettling to watch that shite again. that audacious reffing still sends shivers. makes it a little easier to stomach this most recent hawk cup however:)

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