A fresh start

Thursday, 01.05.2014 / 6:00 PM / Features
By Derek Jory
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A fresh start
Spring-cleaning continues for the Vancouver Canucks.
Spring-cleaning continues for the Vancouver Canucks.

Twenty-four days after Mike Gillis was relieved of his duties as general manager, the Canucks parted ways with coach John Tortorella and assistant coach Mike Sullivan Thursday.

Tortorella was hired as Vancouver’s bench boss on June 25, 2013, and he led the Canucks to a 36-35-11 record; the 83-point output was the franchise’s lowest since 1999-2000 as the Canucks missed the playoffs for the first time in six seasons.

Vancouver was plagued by injuries to the tune of 299 man games lost in 2013-14, sixth most in the NHL, and it was also the first time since the 1996-97 season no Canucks played in all 82 games.

In addition to that, nearly every member of the Canucks had down seasons in terms of point production; Henrik Sedin led the team with 50 points (11-39-50), the lowest output for the team’s leading scorer in franchise history.

All of this, and more, played into Linden’s final decision on Torts.

“I think our team is set up to play a certain way,” said president Trevor Linden during a press conference at Rogers Arena. “When I look at the strength of our team I look our defence and their ability to have the puck and move the puck, and I think that the style of play did have some impact in that.

“When I look at the number of players that did have seasons that were disappointing, it was concerning, no questioning that played a big factor.”

Vancouver’s 44th NHL season ended less than four weeks ago and with this decision, combined with the Gillis dismissal, the questions can end about what the Canucks have become.

Change isn’t coming, change is here.

“There’s nobody that’s been happy with the results of this season and it starts with our players and they’re disappointed. I believe in the character of that group down there, I think they’re responsible and want to be better. I think we as an organization have to connect with our fans in a greater way and ultimately, I think we need to bring excitement back to Rogers Arena and a brand of hockey that people like to watch.

“I understand their discontent, I don’t blame them, and it’s up to us to win them back.”

Above all else, winning will win them back. Winning will come under the right guidance of a GM and coach and although concurrently hunting for both is “tricky,” as Linden admitted, he’s keeping his lists short and knows exactly what he’s after.

“A coach for me is someone that is a career coach that is experienced in many levels, I think he’s a teacher, I think he’s able to communicate well with his players on many levels and understands players need to be communicated with differently for the different type of personalities you come upon. I think a coach is someone that has a real distinct style of play and believes that their style of play is the way to success.”

Glen Gulutzan, Darryl Williams and Roland Melanson were all retained and will be with the Canucks next season.

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Who do you think would be a good fit as coach or GM in Vancouver? Have your say below.