Spitballin’ on John Tortorella the media darling, Cowan the Bra-barian, and Higgins for Sochi

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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John Tortorella, inadvertent media darling

When John Tortorella was introduced as the new coach of the Vancouver Canucks, we were told and shown several times that he had changed. No longer was he the hostile coach of the New York Rangers. No sir, Tortorella wasn’t just coming to the West Coast. He was adopting a West Coast mentality. If Vancouver was any further south, he’d have been introduced wearing flip flops and a puka shell necklace.

Tortorella does appear to have changed. But that doesn’t mean he suddenly finds media interaction riveting or enjoyable. He does not. Especially after losses, Tortorella would prefer to get in, answer the question, and get out. What’s resulted, then, is a bizarrely quotable John Tortorella who bats questions out of the air with one aggressive sentence, only to wind up giving the media the money line they were prepared to ask several questions in order to find.

After the loss to the Panthers: “We sucked.” Regarding special teams: “Our powerplay sucked.” On Glenn Healy’s criticism during Hockey Night in Canada: “ “I really don’t give a [expletive] what they say.”  On Zack Kassian’s play: “crappy at times.” And, finally, on his new line combinations going into Friday’s tilt with the Blue Jackets: “We’re just throwing [expletive] at the wall hoping something sticks.”

In an ironic twist, Tortorella’s continuing disdain for media sessions has turned him into a media darling. It’s like an NHL coaching version of Office Space.

Zack Kassian is bad at line changes

Not only do his zone exits need work — so do his ice exits.

Awkward. Leaving the defensive zone, he tries to get too fancy. Leaving the neutral zone, he looks like Winnie the Pooh leaving Rabbit’s:

Step your game up, Kassian.

Chris Higgins for Sochi?

We’re still a ways away from learning which members of the Canucks will be heading to Sochi to represent their respective countries, but I think we have a pretty good idea on who’s going: Roberto Luongo. The Sedins. Alex Edler. Ryan Kesler.

But what about Chris Higgins? Consider: Team USA’s top nine forwards are likely set, but there are still about five slots up for grabs. The way Higgins has been playing this season, he deserves some consideration, especially if the USA brass are serious about building a lunchbucket team. You don’t get more lunchbucket than Higgins. On Friday, Frank Provenzano of ESPN discussed a handful of possibilities for Team USA’s bottom line, and Higgins was among them:

Though Higgins doesn’t have the offensive output of some of the other wingers available for selection, an advanced statistical look at his performance so far this season on a strong Canucks team might merit him some consideration. He ranks among the top forwards on the team (along with the Sedins), and he has the biggest impact in actual shots on goal relative to his teammates when he is on the ice. However, he’s been saddled with the worst luck (PDO of 975, which is the sum of shooting percentage and save percentage when he’s on the ice). In short, when Higgins is on the ice, good things are happening for the Canucks, and that low PDO value (the average is 1000) indicates that results could get better for him.

Admittedly, it’s a bit of a theoretical case. Higgins is doing the things that create goals, yes, but he’ll need to actually score the goals if he wants to be considered.

Saint John Sea Dogs hire the Jeff the Bra-Barbarian

Earlier today, Daniel wrote a post asking whether or not the Canucks needed a sniper. (Of note: this post was originally planned for yesterday, but he got busy, and wound up finishing and publishing a post about a sniper on the 50th anniversary of JFK’s death. Way to blow it, Daniel.) The post was really about shooting percentage and what the Canucks really need: a shooter on a hot streak.

A hot streak like Jeff Cowan’s unforgettable run  Because that dude had a hot streak that was so hot, people shed their clothes.

Willie Mitchell scooping the bra up on his stick like it’s covered in disease remains my favourite thing. Dudes: it’s a bra, not the outbreak monkey.

Anyway, I bring all of this up because Cowan has been hired by the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs as an assistant coach. Best of luck to the Bra-Barian as he begins this new step of his career.

Give us the GIF we deserve

Finally, we requested this a week ago, but no one came through for us. So we’re asking again. Dear friends, won’t someone turn this:

Into something like this.

Please and thank you.

15 comments

  1. natevk
    November 22, 2013

    I can’t believe you guys posted that Cowan video without any reference to Jan Bulis’ beauty pass.

    I miss him
    (not really actually).

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    • Bookie
      November 22, 2013

      They’re probably disappointed he didn’t pass it to himself.

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  2. PD
    November 22, 2013

    ‘Lunchbucket’. Love it. I can’t warm to calling millionaire athletes ‘blue collar’, I like this term much better.

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  3. Mel
    November 22, 2013

    I applaud the ‘shoppers who are maintaining their creative integrity and not doing your bidding. They are waiting until Torts spontaneously combusts all by himself.

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  4. Jameel
    November 22, 2013

    I wouldn’t dare attempt to create the GIF you’re looking for, however a “Kassian Leaving Awkwardly” series sounds like it’s got potential…

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  5. Jameel
    November 22, 2013

    Kassian leaving awkwardly so he doesn’t have to Meet the Parents…
    https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B63RJ9M8kN7Ab1dySXZkS2g2UlE/edit

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  6. Jameel
    November 22, 2013

    Kassian, realizing stuff was about to get crazy, awkwardly leaving his Persian comrades…
    https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B63RJ9M8kN7AcmZxdWdndG04ZVU/edit?pli=1

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  7. Jameel
    November 22, 2013

    Kassian, late for his second job, this time arriving awkwardly…
    https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B63RJ9M8kN7AeDZpX25mb0RRalk/edit

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  8. tom selleck's moustache
    November 22, 2013

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane; Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day was one of my favourite Read Along books as a kid.

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  9. SomeGuy
    November 22, 2013

    Don’t know how much luck you’ll have with that gif. The guy who made that is a professional animator. Here’s a time lapse showing the amount of work and skill that actually went into it. Pretty impressive.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4WKAtQTJwxQ

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    • Knight of Cydonia
      November 23, 2013

      Only 2 hours… If I had that kindof skill I would definitely contribute that amount of time to create the said gif. Think of all the hours PITB has put in and what they have delivers to us, the readers. Are there no professional animators in the PITB fan club that will return the favour!?

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      • SomeGuy
        November 23, 2013

        When you put it like that, I suppose I would too if I had the skill. I believe there are several large animation studios in Vancouver too. A friend of mine used to do IT work at the studio that makes My Little Pony, among other things.

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      • Harrison Mooney
        November 23, 2013

        Well, we do get paid. I wouldn’t do two hours of free blogging.

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        • Knight of Cydonia
          November 23, 2013

          shhh… do you want the gif or not?

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  10. Iain
    November 25, 2013

    ref the Brabarian clip – Note to Canucks of 2013: see how they gain entry to the zone with speed, puck movement and, yes, some positively sedinous wizardry from none other than Jan Bulis, to open up the Bolts’ D and get a GODDAMN shooting lane, and then SHOOT THE BLOODY PUCK QUICKLY NOT HOLD ON TO IT FOR LIKE n+1000 SECONDS LONGER THAN THE OPENING IS THERE, WHERE n= THE LAST POSITIVELY LAST MOMENT YOU SHOULD TAKE THE SHOT.

    rant over.

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