Canucks fans all seem to agree that hiring John Tortorella was a big mistake. But here’s a question that most fans haven’t asked: could a small child have done a better job at coaching the Canucks than Tortorella?
The answer might just be yes. At least, that’s the impression I got from reading the advice a number of elementary school kids sent to Trevor Linden. The first piece of advice offered by the vast majority directly contradicted one of Tortorella’s biggest coaching philosophies: practice more.
They also differed from Tortorella in how much trust they put in Eddie Lack. Tortorella repeatedly started Lack after the Olympic break, including in the Heritage Classic, alienating Roberto Luongo and leading directly to his trade to the Florida Panthers. The kids, on the other hand, don’t seem to even consider Lack a goaltender , with many under the impression that the Canucks have no goalies at all.
Bryce, 6, says the players “have to practice hockey every day,” while Louis, 11, thinks that “3 times every week” is enough. Emma, 6, is content if the team practices “before a big game,” while Sienna, 6, just says to “practice a lot.” Sophia, 12, supports daily practices, illustrating a prospective schedule:
“Practice more,” says Quintin, 11, and so does Isaac, who adds that the players should “count to ten or inhale and exhale 4 times when mad.” That’s got nothing to do with practicing, but it’s sound advice.
I like the advice given by Alvina, 11, who suggests that one practice a month should just be handed over to the players: “just let the team talk and get to know each other.”
Everett, 12, gets specific and suggests they “practice more give and go.” Leon, 6, wants the Canucks to “practice shooting” and “practice skating.” Apple, 6, agrees with the latter: “practice skating more.”
Bruce, 11, just wants “more practices to make it to the playoffs” and Chloe, 7, suggests the Canucks need to “work harder and practice.” Josh says, “have more practices…to get better.” Doris, 11, says “try to practice more.” Again and again, the advice from the kids is “practice more.”
Seriously, children understand that you need to practice to get better at something. Tortorella apparently didn’t.
Aidan, 12, also wants practices, but it’s the picture that gets me on this one:
Yep, when given the chance to draw a Canucks goaltender, he drew the puck going right past him high glove. That seems like an appropriate transition to what the McKay Elementary kids think about goaltending. There isn’t an Eddie Lack fan among them.
“Get a better goalie,” says Henry, 7, Emma, 6, Timothy, 12, and Lawrence, age undisclosed. Linda, 10, agrees, prefacing the advice to “get a better goalie” by saying that it would “make your team even more fabulous.” More fabulous than Lack? That’s hard to believe.
Louis, 11, says that Linden should “get Luongo and Schneider back,” while Jericho, 11, sets his sights a little lower and suggests that Linden just “get Luongo back.” Dylan, 10, thinks “the Canucks need better goaltending.” Cassidy, 11, says “don’t go around trading goalies like Mr. Gillis did.”
Alex, 11, thinks that the Canucks could win with Lack, but it won’t be easy: “Get a better goalie or help him [Lack]. He needs a lot of help.”
David sums it all up succinctly:
Good goalies instead of no goalies. Nailed it.
Seriously, though, the advice from the kids of McKay Elementary is adorable. Other points of emphasis for the kids include on-ice communication, encouragement, avoiding penalties, and getting better players. That last one is a pretty good idea.
This letter may be my favourite of the lot:
Joey isn’t just 6, he’s 6 and a half, and you can really feel the weight of that extra half-year of life experience in his advice. What I love about this is that he’s not saying the Canucks shouldn’t take penalties, just that they shouldn’t go to the penalty box when they do. Has anyone tried that? Just outright refused to go to the penalty box when they take a penalty? If not, Joey’s advice may revolutionize the game.
I love this one too:
Don’t stay up too late, Canucks. Even if it seems fun to stay up late at night, Ahmad knows that you just end up tired and cranky the next day. He also advises flat-out lying: “Tell them they can do it even if they can’t.”
The entire gallery of advice from the kids is available on Canucks.com and I encourage you to check it out.