Five potential explanations for why John Tortorella hasn’t been fired yet

This photo is from November. Tortorella was making this face by November.

The Canucks wasted no time in firing Mike Gillis, showing him the door on April 8, one night after the fans in Rogers Arena called for him to go, and three games prior to the end of the season.

It was easy to see why they moved with such haste. With season ticket renewals slow, the team needed to do something to reinvigorate the fanbase, and since the team on the ice didn’t seem capable of it, it was time to usher everyone into the panic room.

The panic room is probably a bad name for what’s really just an all-encompassing, black-and-yellow, 1994-themed party room. It’s like a panic room, in that it shuts out the outside world, but that’s really just to ensure that nothing from the yucky present encroaches on the illusion that you’re back in the mid-nineties, when the black Power Ranger was black and the yellow Power Ranger was Vietnamese. (It was a simpler time.)

Trevor Linden is there. Kirk McLean is there. Pat Quinn is there. “I know, I know,” they coo comfortingly, stroking your hair gently and telling tale of Pavel Bure’s overtime winner versus Calgary, “2014 was stressful. But you’re back now, safe and sound in the year 1994.”

The ruse is thorough. Canucks.com is nothing but pictures and interviews with guys who used to play here. The only thing stopping you from thinking it’s a website from 1994 is that there are pictures surrounding the text.

Take a look at banner, Michael! the ghosts of ’94 would say if your name was Michael, pointing to a photo of the Linden and Bure banners in the Rogers Arena rafters. “Hush now, child, and think not of how we lost this year, and how mad it made you. Think instead of that other time we lost, twenty years ago, and how proud it made you.”

And, enchanted by the allure of what all Vancouver hockey fans can agree was the franchise’s best year (even though 2011 was obviously better in pretty much every way, but we still feel bad about it, so let’s not talk about it), you might be tempted to renew your season tickets.

Anyway. This is why the Canucks needed to remove Mike Gillis in such short order. He was blocking the door to the panic room.

But the team has been a lot slower to make a decision on John Tortorella.

 

It’s now been just under two weeks since the season ended, and we’ve heard nothing regarding what most believe will be his dismissal. Why is that? Here are five possible explanations.

Tortorella’s not getting fired. This is a distinct possibility. He’s still got four years left on his contract, and the way this year went, if he loses this job, you really have to wonder if he’s going to get a new one in that time. If he doesn’t, the Canucks are paying a lot of money for a guy to sit at home.

Furthermore, it really is quite possible that Tortorella was never on the way out. All year long, there were rumours that he was an Aquilini guy, and true or not then, the removal of Mike Gillis may be an indication that he’s an Aquilini guy now. If Tortorella’s not going anywhere, then there’s nothing to report, which may be why we haven’t heard anything.

Tortorella’s not Trevor Linden’s problem. Linden’s primary focus right now, apart from learning the job and buying the perfect high-backed, swivelling, leather desk chair, is hiring a General Manager. That search has reportedly begun, and that may be where all the focus is. Linden may want a GM in place before the decision on Tortorella, so the complete management team can make it together.

Or it could be that Linden would prefer to install a GM, and give him the wheel, letting the new guy steer the on-ice direction of the franchise. “Welcome to the team,” Linden might say. “Your first order of business: fire that guy.”

The Canucks are in wait-and-see mode. It’s probably not fair to Tortorella to be left in limbo, but it’s also not really the end of the world. It’s not like he’s in his office right now, working on the gameplan for next October. He’s on vacation. So the Canucks have a little time here to see what happens in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Here’s a scenario: the Pittsburgh Penguins get ousted by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round, and Dan Bylsma is shown the door. Maybe then the Canucks are a little swifter to uninstall Tortorella? A lot can change in the hockey world in short order.

But if none of the changes are to Vancouver’s liking, maybe they stick with their guy.

Tortorella’s just not answering his phone. You know how it is. There’s an awkward conversation coming and you don’t want to have it, so you just sort of… don’t. When the phone rings, you don’t pick up. You let the voicemail get full. You go off the grid for awhile, hoping the conversation will just sort of go away, and when you re-emerge from your cone of silence, saying something vague like, “sorry I haven’t been around, there’s been a lot of stuff going on,” the other party will be so relieved that you’re not dead that they’ll welcome you back with open arms. Maybe Tortorella’s doing that?

The Canucks just forgot. Two months from now, Linden will bolt upright in bed and be like, “Oh man! I was supposed to fire Tortorella months ago. DAMMIT. This job is so hard.”

23 comments

  1. SEAPP
    April 25, 2014

    I was reading an article about ManU and Moyes firing and I thought, “Crap, Vancouver is the ManU of the NHL this season (I wish we had ManU’s history)” Now we just need to complete the Moyes firing (started with GMMG) and get rid of Tortorella.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +5 (from 5 votes)
    • please
      April 29, 2014

      except for the 18 or so championships ;-((

      VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  2. Kayak5
    April 25, 2014

    “Trading Coaches” Season 2: Vancouver and Pittsburgh

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +13 (from 19 votes)
  3. Chrìs
    April 25, 2014

    Torts isnt going anywhere until a gm is hired. We’re not getting a new gm until after the first or secound of the playoffs Depending on who gets eliminated. The wait tells us that the players had a positive review of torts during their exit interviews. I have a feeling that Jim benning is our guy. Though i am getting tired of hearing which teams we should emulate in terms of style of play and the type of players we should draft and sign….

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +9 (from 9 votes)
    • Chris the Curmudgeon
      April 25, 2014

      No kidding. How about we follow the “Vancouver model” which we can then define as “to construct a team based on sound reasoning and independent thought”, rather than trying to mimic someone else’s roadmap to success.

      VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: +27 (from 27 votes)
  4. Chris the Curmudgeon
    April 25, 2014

    I think number 2 is the most likely. I thought that Gillis should have been fired after last season, allowing the new GM to make his choice of coaches. Instead, somehow, Gillis was able to keep his job one more year and let Vigneault take the fall for his mismanagement. (AV of course didn’t miss a beat while grabbing Torts’ old job and doing it far better than Torts did, so far at least). Meanwhile, Gillis was either allowed to make the brutal Torts hire, speaking to his incompetence, or was forced to accept the Aquilinis’ decision, speaking of his lame-duck-ness (in which case, why not fire him?). If Linden could take any lessons from that, it’s that it is far preferable to have a good GM in place first and let the GM hire the coach.

    Vigneault being retained after Nonis was fired was something of a rarity, but he had one very promising season under his belt to go with the disappointing one that precipitated the management change, and had indicated a willingness to be flexible in coaching style based on the style Gillis preferred at the time. As some of you may recall, the free-flowing style we came to associate with AV was adopted as the team’s offensive players improved and with the addition of Christian Ehrhoff on the blueline, and this was an excellent reflection of AV’s ability to coach to his team’s strengths, one of his best attributes as a coach in my opinion. Tortorella, on the other hand, has only one disastrous season on his Vancouver resume, and is known for being particularly inflexible in how he coaches, so unless ownership and Linden fully endorse his style and select a GM to continue Tortorella hockey (God help us), I wouldn’t expect him back.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +17 (from 17 votes)
  5. chrìs
    April 25, 2014

    farhan just tweeted this article, apparently linden just got back from detroit where he was talking to cam neely

    http://www.vancouversun.com/sports/hockey/vancouver-canucks/Canucks+boss+Trevor+Linden+mapping/9772998/story.html

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)
  6. Naturalmystic
    April 25, 2014

    Tortorella isn’t going anywhere just yet. The ownership is paying a bucket of cash for Gillis and they are loath to part with another bucket of cash just so Tortorella can sit on his butt doing nothing for the next 4 years. Don’t be surprised if GM Jay Feaster is expected to give Tortorella one more season.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: -8 (from 8 votes)
  7. Fitz-P
    April 25, 2014

    Can the Canucks just not emulate anyone? It’s hard to chase a moving bar, perhaps that was Gillis mistake. He kept saying, ‘we were slow to adjust to this and that…” How about making other teams adjust to you. Rather than re-inventing the wheel, play to and enhance your strengths. Sedins are strong offensive, puck possession players and they aren’t going anywhere for 4 years so an offensive, puck possession team would make sense. Considering the top teams in the west attack, attack, attack, playing a collapsing defensive style plays in to their hands, the best defense may very well be a puck possession offense in the Western Conference.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +19 (from 19 votes)
    • Phileo99
      April 26, 2014

      So you’re looking for a coach that can coach to the teams strength and coach a puck possession, offense style with mobile defensemen?
      I could be wrong, but the coach you’re looking for I believe is coaching the NYRangers now.

      VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: +6 (from 10 votes)
      • Fitz-P
        April 26, 2014

        yeah kinda

        VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
        Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
  8. Noodle
    April 25, 2014

    Mooney, you are excellent with sarcasm. This article lightened the mood nicely when I was starting to get frustrated about the Canucks. : )

    On another note, it is interesting how differently Canucks fans view 1994 versus 2011. I suspect that’s not going to change much – 1994 was the Cinderella team, the very likeable team. 2011 was the super good team that got heaps of scorn from the rest of the league. It was exhausting having to continually defend that team. Plus losing on home ice, in game 7, in a shutout, to the Bruins is a pretty big wound to get over. There was a lot of negativity surrounding that run (and what happened after).

    I find it a bit sad though that amazing moments like Bieksa’s stanchion goal and Burrows slay the dragon goal get pushed aside by those negative feelings. Those were great moments.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +20 (from 20 votes)
    • Tristin
      April 25, 2014

      The problem with the 2011 team, is that they were so damned good. And when it finally ended, it was really hard to swallow. That Canucks team was one of the best and most dominant in the NHL in the past 15 years, so I think losing the cup after getting so close with such a good team is what really hurt us. Not to mention what happened afterwards…

      VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: +13 (from 13 votes)
      • Harrison Mooney
        April 25, 2014

        Well. That happened in 1994 too.

        VN:F [1.9.16_1159]
        Rating: +5 (from 9 votes)
  9. akidd
    April 25, 2014

    until the canucks fire tortorella i will assume they have decided to adopt the george costanza model. the coach who was hired to get this best out his players but instead got the worst possible season from almost each and every one of them? keep that guy.

    the gm who got the best out of his players(a hart, two pearsons and selke) and took his club who previously missed the playoffs to consecutive p-cups, game 7 of the stanley cup final, and a whack of division championships? fire that guy.

    maybe while they’re at it they can extend booth. maybe trade kesler, tanev, kassian, lack, jensen and anyone else who had the audacity to show any kind of spark at all last season.

    until torts is fired i’m just gonna assume that that’s the plan, as well as holding a roundtable with all of the canucks’ sworn enemies(presided over by dr. mark recchi of course) to decide what to do with the team. i’m sure they’ll have our best interests at heart.

    don’t mean to be pessimistic or anything…:)

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +7 (from 9 votes)
  10. whisky jack
    April 25, 2014

    Who would have I to rag upon
    Were Torts and Tom Sestito gone
    Were Alex Edler not to play
    Who then would give the puck away

    Vancouver is a troll’s delight
    There’s joy in watching any night
    If Garrison’s not shooting wide
    Then Hank’s three shots he hasn’t tried

    And when they’re playing five on four
    There’s little chance they’ll ever score
    The reason why is hardly moot
    It’s just because they rarely shoot

    Torts is the biggest drama queen
    Of all the coaches I have seen
    It’s great the cameras pan his way
    On each and every ugly play

    But there’s the fact he’s won a Cup
    Thus we the fans must suck it up
    So Linden’s words seem to imply
    Of course he has been known to lie

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +4 (from 6 votes)
  11. tj
    April 25, 2014

    No one actually expected Linden to act swiftly on his decisions, did they? Seems to me, at least, he’s always acted slowly and methodically in his business dealings. It’s rather a nice counterpoint to the hysteria-approach the Aquilinis seem to take.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +5 (from 5 votes)
  12. shoes
    April 26, 2014

    First of all modeling your team after the Bruins is a mugs game. Because no way on earth will Mr. Sestito be the VP of Hockey Operations and thus boss of all that takes place including handing out plum assignments in the playoffs ($$$). Secondly the Bruins “model” went against the rules changes after ’05 and as soon as the Bruins are finished with that “model” I expect it to go back to the “new-old rules” Which will make the Detroit, Pitts, SJS, St Louis, Model more valid.

    Meantime bact to Torts and as importantly the sourfaced Sully and the goofy Gully. Linden is under no obligation to be “fair” to this no-mind trio. They recognized the team was older so they played the top 2 lines 48-50 minutes out of 60 each game for about 40 games and then when the bottom fell out……”stopped teaching” according to Torts. At that point it was too late so to put icing on the cake starts another goalie controversy. Interesting when Torts stopped “teaching” Kassian seemed to get better. When Mattias arrived after Torts Classic blunder, he too played creative hockey and looked good as did Jensen. All of whom were or would have been benched or stifled under Torts “system” FIRE HIM, but Torture for a month first. We owe him

    I don’t care what anybody says…..playing hockey from the #8 spot is better than missing and simply getting a higher draft pick never guarantees anything.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +4 (from 4 votes)
    • Fitz-P
      April 26, 2014

      Further to your point. Who was Brad Richards’ coach for the worst 18 months of his career? who was Rick Nash’s coach when he “sucked” last year? remember how good Gaborik was in Minnesota? how about NY? who was his coach with the Rangers when he “forgot how to score”? Anyone else see a pattern here??? are we sure the Sedins had their worst season in recent memory because they are old now or is it high skill players and Torts are oil & water. My bet is on the latter.

      VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: +1 (from 5 votes)
  13. Lou
    April 26, 2014

    I find it hard to belive some one would write anything possible, to possibly sell a newspaper and possibly ruin some ones life not knowing the truth., I grew up thinking reporters verified there story , I just think people should not write GOSSIP and use there media influance to RUIN a persons life unjusly. What ever happen to inocent untill proven guilty ? Maybe someone needs to start throwng stones at the writers GLASS HOUSES ? I am sure they have made mistakes in there life and are thankfull a dumpster diving writer didnt trash them like they are doing to Torts,

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: 0 (from 4 votes)
    • Daniel Wagner
      April 26, 2014

      I honestly have no idea what you’re talking about.

      VN:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: +4 (from 6 votes)
      • Lemming
        April 27, 2014

        I’d wager he’s talking about the media storm about “Why hasn’t Torts been fired yet?”, implying he’s definitely going to be fired and deserves to be fired.
        I do tend to agree with him (to an extent, I’m not overly emotional about it). I generally avoid any and all news media, aside from sports, because vitriol and media spin in sports makes little to no difference to what are mostly very, very rich people, and it provides a good job off the back of those people for good people like yourselves to have jobs.
        Keep up the good work!

        VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
        Rating: +3 (from 3 votes)
  14. Gordon
    April 30, 2014

    …And fired.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)