The Paper Feature will run every Wednesday in the Vancouver Sun’s print edition, as well as online here at Pass it to Bulis. (It’s called the Paper Feature for what we hope are obvious reasons.) It doesn’t start up for a couple weeks, but due to a miscommunication, we were told it started this week. Rather than let this column go to waste, we decided to share it with you, our favourite reader.
We tried to embrace John Tortorella. We honestly did. But after Game 1 of the Canucks’ 2013-14 NHL season, a 4-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks, it’s time to face facts: he’s not the man for the job. Fire him. Fire him right this instant.
Due to the nature of deadlines, this column, set to run in Tuesday’s print edition of the Vancouver Sun, is being written Friday morning, in advance of the Canucks’ weekend set versus the Calgary Flames and the Edmonton Oilers. But after the abysmal showing last night, I see absolutely no way that I could feel any differently. By the time this runs, the Canucks will be 0-3, their goaltending will still be a complete mess, their defensive posture will remain abysmal, and the Sedins will still be the invisible, over-the-hill twin duds Thursday night’s season-opener made it clear that they were.
Some may say it’s too early. The season will only be three games old by the time this runs, after all. Give the man a chance, they might say. Only a complete joke of an NHL franchise, one owned by a buffoon and run by a General Manager with no understanding of his own ineptitude — especially at finding stability in goal — would fire a coach just three games into the season, they might say. But that’s nonsense. It’s never too early to fire a guy if he’s not working out. Matter of fact, when the Canucks hire the new guy, they should dismiss him as he’s touring the facility, just as a reminder to future coaches that they’re never safe. They’d better win every gosh darn night.
Tortorella had his chance. He came in and said all the right things to the media, and then he set to work instituting his new system, a playing style that involved a strong defensive posture, an aggressive forecheck, and shot-blocking.
So much for that noise. Theposture fizzled in San Jose, with the Sharks dropping four on the Canucks, winning their 10th in a row versus the boys in [a different shade of] blue. 10 in a row! Great news, Vancouver fans: the Canucks are now to the San Jose Sharks what the Colorado Avalanche are to the Canucks. We may as well throw ourselves into the sea.
The aggressive forecheck didn’t lead to anything. The Canucks scored just one goal versus the Sharks, so now we know for sure that this team will be incapable of scoring goals under Tortorella. They’re on pace for an 82-goal season. They’ll probably be outscored by Steven Stamkos alone. Remember the days when the Canucks would score five, six goals a game? Those days are way over.
And as for the shot-blocking, well, we all knew how that was going to turn out. One game into the year, the Canucks have already lost Alex Burrows, who took a chunk of vulcanized rubber off the foot during a 5-on-3 penalty kill. It was the first and final piece of evidence we need that Tortorella hockey simply isn’t the fight fit for Vancouver, whose roster is made up of people with bones.
Perhaps some of the blame should fall on Mike Gillis, who did absolutely nothing to build the sort of boneless roster Tortorella needed. For a guy so hell-bent on innovation, one wonders why he didn’t bother to partner with the scientists that make Costco chicken thighs. If they can make boneless, skinless dinners out of animals that grow up with bones and skin, imagine what they could do with hockey players. Envision, for a moment, a roster full of boneless, skinless hockey players. Sure, they’d be pretty wobbly, but they’d be fearless shot-blockers, and they’d be intimidating too. Skinless freaks are scary. Think of Freddy Krueger.
So out goes Burrows, a pretty important part of the roster, all because Tortorella expects him to block shots. This would never have happened under Alain Vigneault, who advocated the players dive out of the way constantly. (That’s what they were doing all through the 2011 Cup run, by the way. You probably didn’t know that, did you? See, everybody thought Vancouver’s diving during the 2011 Cup run was an attempt to draw penalties. Not so. It was just a bid to stay healthy. It didn’t work, sadly. By the Cup Final, the entire team was in shambles, arguably because they didn’t dive enough.)
Flippin’ Tortorella wants the Canucks to dive into shots, though. It’s the worst of both worlds. It’ll do nothing to change Vancouver’s reputation around the league — gosh, the Canucks go down untouched even more now, opponents will say — and it will hurt everyone.
Burrows isn’t the only one, by the way. Ryan Kesler broke his foot blocking a shot just last season, for instance. When will Tortorella learn?
Not soon enough. That’s why it’s time for him to go, and nothing that happens between today and Tuesday, when this column runs, can change my mind.
Part of our page in the paper will be the Tweet Podium, because we’re online-type writers and Twitter is an online-type thing. It will feature some of the best tweets from the previous week. If you see a great Canucks-related tweet, send us a link. Or plagiarize it and bask in its glory.
The team put 44 shots on net tonight. Every skater had a shot except Weber. Way to ruin if for everyone, Yannick. #canucks
— Hosea Cheung (@hosea24hours) October 6, 2013
Introducing Weber’s catchphrase: “Way to ruin it for everyone.” The Canucks signed a defenceman named Weber? His first name is Yannick? Aw man, way to ruin it for everyone.
Nobody is reporting on it, but the Canucks Ice Team looks like they had a good training camp this year. Lot of hustle out there.
— j.Bowman (@jBowmancouver) October 6, 2013
Little known fact: Tortorella also made the Ice Team run 2 miles in 12 minutes.
Canucks gave the Flames a point to screw up their draft position. All part of the plan.
— Taj (@taj1944) October 7, 2013
It makes so much sense! Ruin the rebuild by giving the Flames a loser point in every meeting. The perfect long con.Tags: John Tortorella, Questionable Comedic Content, The Paper Feature