Spitballin’ (or Super Pass It To Bulis: 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.
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.
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.”Tags: canuck animals, John Tortorella, spitballin, Tony Gallagher