John Tortorella was right about Vancouver Canucks

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      With the Vancouver Canucks staring down a potential playoff elimination game tomorrow night against the Calgary Flames, one can’t help reflect back to former head coach John Tortorella’s postseason assessment of the Canucks in 2014. To paraphrase the now unemployed Torts: the core of the team is too old and too stale.

      Though Torts was undeniably entertaining most nights (unlike his Canucks team last year), many hockey pundits questioned his unorthodox coaching style. However, it appears Torts was right about one thing: this year’s retooled Canucks team is pretty much the sports equivalent of putting lipstick on a pig; a pig that charges $91 to $304.75 per playoff ticket.

      So what does Trevor Linden, the president of the Vancouver Canucks, do now? The goodwill Linden’s front office mustered over the year will likely be depleted after fans watch this year’s team suffer the same fate as years past: an aging team of no-shows-when-it-counts.

      Vancouver does have the Sedins: skilled players that play exceptionally in the regular season. But at the "old" age of 34, they may never be the clutch playoff heroes the Canucks need them to be. During the playoffs, the twins are forever targets, with the opposing team’s players draped on them like additional jerseys. Signed for another three years each, fans can enjoy all the Sedins’ regular season play; unfortunately, don’t expect the same magic in the playoffs.

      However, a larger issue facing the Canucks still lingers, as it appears the team never got the memo from NHL head office: skill and finesse don’t win you the Stanley Cup; it’s about intimidation.

      Were the L.A. Kings and the Boston Bruins the most skilled teams in the NHL the years they won the Stanley Cup? Probably not—but they managed to outmuscle and outgoon their opponents, destroying the opposition’s will to win. If you don’t believe me, go back and watch Bruins vs. Canucks 2011 Stanley Cup final or the Canucks first-round experience versus the Kings in 2012.

      NHL commissioner Gary Bettman loves to promote the skill and finesse of the league's stars, but when it comes down to the dogfight that is the Stanley Cup playoffs, it always appears to be about thuggery; something Michael Ferland and the Calgary Flames have done quite well to date. All Canucks fans can do now is hope that next year, Linden and his team will make the changes necessary to finally secure the franchise’s first Stanley Cup and not just apply another shade of lipstick to a stale old pig. 

      Follow Paul Philips on Twitter @paulvex.

      Comments

      18 Comments

      Jean

      Apr 22, 2015 at 3:35pm

      Sassy

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      ursa minor

      Apr 22, 2015 at 3:48pm

      It's only been a year since the Linden/Benning/Desjardins triumvirate stepped in to clear the Gillis stink out of Rogers arena. It will be a while before it's completely gone.

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      J.M.T.

      Apr 22, 2015 at 4:22pm

      Yeah, John Tortorella was right, and deep down, I think we all quietly agreed with his assessment. I know I did. Then Trevor fired him for his honesty.

      Vancouver Boneheads.

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      Professor Frink

      Apr 22, 2015 at 4:39pm

      Yup, pretty much. Torts was wrong about a lot of things, but he was right about the team being too old and too slow.

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      Off the Bandwagon

      Apr 23, 2015 at 7:08am

      I'm not sure why people did think that changing the front office was going to change things that much. It did make for a slightly better season, but I'm sure everyone knew that 2011 was probably the last kick at the can in the Sedin's era. The team was rated much better than it was due to the easy division and most of the stars are past their prime now...although Kesler has found new life and is coming through in the playoffs for the Ducks.

      As with our other Stanley Cup bids, there has to be a rebuilding phase and in the salary cap era that means having some ugly seasons and high draft picks. The Sedin's need to be replaced for a start and larger, tougher players are needed in general. Let this season go and start the long rebuild now.

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      Donna Cherry

      Apr 23, 2015 at 8:57am

      It is fairly obvious that this team is stale and has been for some time. Sadly, the Sedins are Matt Hasselbeck - nice guys, better than average players, will keep giving you a tiny bit of hope and will get you to the playoffs but never the promised land. I for one am quietly waiting for the Canuck equivalent of Russell Wilson.

      But I would disagree with the second part of the assessment. Goonery is not what won Boston and L.A. the Cup (well, Boston a smidge). Size and physicality combined with skill is what wins. No point having a big dumb guy who takes boneheaded penalties. You want a big smart guy who draws them and then scores. Or a great, big d-man like Chara. The problem for the Canucks for the last decade has been scoring: getting a goal right back when they give one up, having a dynamic line that makes the opposition back up and scramble, scoring off the odd man rush. You will notice the yawning gap, littered with average players, between the promise of young Bo and the 33 and 34 year old Sedins and Vrbata. Where you might ask are our dazzling mid-20s greats? The last management and coaching team dropped the ball there. We'll have to see if the current one is any better.

      ursa minor

      Apr 23, 2015 at 11:05am

      Given that the Russel Wilson equivalent of Russell Wilson will be getting $20 million, how much should can the Canucks afford to get his equivalent?

      My analogy for the Sedins puts them more equivalent to Ichiro - superstars past their prime with a specific skill set (slap hit singles and stolen bases/puck possession) that doesn't fulfill the team's real needs (power & RBIs/speed and physical play) but was kept around too long because he was the "face of the franchise".

      It's more than likely Ichiro will be retiring and will sign a one-day contract so he can do it as a Seattle Mariner. Linden and Benning need to look at offering the same deal to the Sedins.

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      Canucks are really looking old...

      Apr 23, 2015 at 11:30am

      Watching the other playoff games and then watching the canucks game is like night and day difference for playoff hockey. The younger, more energetic flames are skating harder, blocking soooo many shots and sacrificing their bodies because they're young and super excited. Calgary is simply outplaying the Canucks, period.. We need to make trades in the off season and hopefully Miller will be healthy next year. I love Lack, but we really needed our main goalie for these playoffs. I don't see Canucks coming back to win this, they might win game 5, but that's it. It really doesn't matter anyways as I don't see either team getting past Anaheim, Nashville or Chicago. Hopefully we make smart trades for 2016 and Miller is healthy, that's what i'm wishing for.

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      Wex

      Apr 23, 2015 at 1:53pm

      Toronto, Edmonton,Arizona and Buffalo are last in the league and they've got young guys.
      The Canucks are our team and it would be better to support rather than slag our own. The so called fans are an embarrassment with their nasty attitudes. Torts was a bit of a weenie at times and I wasn't convinced he was completely on board to coach a CDN team.

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      J.M.T.

      Apr 23, 2015 at 3:22pm

      The thing that bugs me about the firing of Torts is this. He was our highest paid coach in Canucks history, ten million over two years. Yet, he was given the least amount of time. Who pays their employees that kind of money and then 8 months later is fired?

      Vancouver Boneheads.

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