Gillis Speaks: Hiring a Coach (Probably Tortorella) "Shouldn't take us much longer"

Thomas Drance
June 21 2013 05:13PM

To cap a zany day - one that started with Vancouver's former coach being introduced in New York and culminated with New York's former coach (and rumoured Canucks coach-elect) John Tortorella being mobbed at the airport by Vancouver sports reporters - Mike Gillis joined BMac and Taylor on the Team1040.

The Canucks General Manager avoided confirming reports that John Tortorella is his choice to be Vancouver's bench boss, but he didn't deny it outright either. Based on Gillis's non-denial, the multiple sources reporting that Tortorella is the guy, and absent reports of John Stevens rushing to Vancouver for a last minute summit with Canucks brass - I think we can say with some, but not complete, confidence that John Tortorella will be the seventeenth head coach in Canucks history. Which raises a variety of pertinent questions...

Read on past the jump.

Mike Gillis wouldn't quite confirm on Friday afternoon that John Tortorella is the next coach of the Vancouver Canucks, but he did at least hint that the drawn out process of selecting a new coach is nearing its completion. Asked specifically to confirm whether John Tortorella was the guy, Mike Gillis played coy (but not as coy as I'd expected):

I can't say at this point but John is certainly in the mix and very strong and we're going to finish off the process the way we design it initially and well it shouldn't take us much longer"

Gillis also denied that the seven week process to address the team's head coaching situation was taking to long or indicative of any type of "analysis paralysis," contending that the process "has been extremely helpful" and is "right on schedule."

On the decision to change coaches in the first place, and how this coaching change fits in with Mike Gillis's promised offseason "reset" the Canucks General Manager had this to say:

"I just felt there were certain things that needed to be changed. Alain's going to go on and be a very good coach in New York, but I felt we needed a change in direction and part of the reset - the main part of the reset I spoke about at my year ending press conference - was whether we were prepared to to have that change in voice, and we decided that we were."

"The main part of the reset" phrase struck me as very interesting and Mike Gillis elaborated on this concept further. In my view he sort of walked back the notion of any sort of significant reset taking place this summer, beyond the change behind the bench of course. Gillis essentially threw the entire weight of his reset behind the hiring of a new coach saying, "There isn't a bigger change you can actually make..." He added, "the hiring of a new coach is going to go a long way towards establishing a different voice and a different approach to how our hockey team plays."

Reading between the lines it sure sounds to me like Mike Gillis and the Canucks may spend their offseason tinkering rather than making any sort of wide ranging structural changes to the club's roster. That's not a big surprise, but the way Mike Gillis pivotted on the "reset" concept on Friday afternoon was striking (and about the only striking part of the interview beyond Gillis's non-denial of the Tortorella reports). So is replacing Vigneault with Tortorella, finding salary cap space somewhere, and inking a couple of modestly priced free agents all the "reset" the team has in store for this summer? And if that's the case, is it enough?

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Thomas Drance lives in Toronto, eats spicy food and writes about hockey. He is an NHL News Editor at theScore, the ex-managing editor of CanucksArmy.com and an opinionated blowhard to boot. You can follow him on twitter @thomasdrance.
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#1 AC
June 22 2013, 01:17PM
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Holy crap... what the eff is going on with comment boards here lately?! When did this site start to get the overflow from CDC and the Province commenters?

For starters, if you've actually read any of the reports over the last two days, a credible source has the Sedins pushing for the Torts hire... of course that ruins the "soft 'sisters'" narrative, so you probably read it and immediately dismissed it.

I am sick of the moronic responses on Canucks blogs. For those of you who are fans of other teams but reading these out of curiosity, these stupid comments do not represent Canucks fans in general. They're either the outspoken fringe that ruins it for the rest of us, or trolls. Most Canuck fans, and definitely most readers of this blog are intelligent people who actually think instead of just offering knee-jerk responses and tired, unfounded cliches.

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#3 GC99
June 22 2013, 05:26PM
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The problem isn't the Sedins. Or goaltending or Hamhuis or Garrison...

If Torts can figure out the secondary scoring... ie, how to get Kesler to use his wingers more and not play so recklessly, or to "fix" Booth, then we should be OK.

Also, Torts might be able to motivate and get through to Kassian better, which can help any of the top 4 lines.

And finally, maybe Torts, or someone that he brings in can help Edler become more consistent.

These guys have the tools to be pretty good players and maybe a new voice does help.

AV probably lost the attention of Kesler, Booth, Edler and never had Kassian.

If Gillman can figure out the cap with some black magic, this team should be ok.

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#4 Cale
June 21 2013, 05:21PM
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If they can get under the cap and find a decent 3C, that's about as much of a "reset" as can reasonably be expected from the team. Torts may shake things up for the better, he might make everything fall apart a la Keenan, or, more likely, his impact will be minimal.

Any big changes coming to this team are going to coalesce over the next few years, not months. For better or for worse, we're pretty much stuck with what we have.

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#5 AC
June 21 2013, 05:35PM
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Is there any way the Canucks could be trying to bring in Stevens as Tort's calming influence - the "white hat" that many in the media keep saying he'd need?

I guess what I'm asking is, is Stevens still under contract with the Kings or could the Canucks get him here as something other than a head coach?

I doubt they'd try anything as lame as trying to have two head coaches (a la the Oilers when they tried it with Quinn and Renney), but maybe your "Team of Rivals" idea is in the works with Torts as head coach with Arniel and Stevens as Associates.

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#6 JI123
June 21 2013, 05:45PM
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Luongo, Volpatti, Aquilini, Tortorella... Italian influence on the Canucks grows. Makes you wonder why we couldn't beat the Boston thugs in the 2011 SCF with our Italian mobster culture...

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#7 Bailing
June 21 2013, 06:22PM
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I read Gillis comment exactly how you did regarding the 'reset'. He was completely bailing on it. I can't believe he thinks that changing the coach and bringing back all the same players is gonna get team past the 1st round. Unreal. Of course, it's speculation at this point. But I just have that feeling. I'd pretty much snap at that point. Hiring frackin Torts is one thing (biggest mistake he'll ever make), but keeping the same roster is a disaster.

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#8 Wesley
June 21 2013, 07:52PM
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You guys all need to chill out, we haven't even hit July and you're already complaining about everything Gillis does and doesn't do.

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#9 Kal-El
June 21 2013, 07:55PM
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I thought Gillis would be an innovator. As it turns out, he does not have an eye for talent. He has struggled with trades and made some questionable signings.

We're stuck with this core thanks to all the no trade clauses he handed out. This core cannot get the job done.

I like the Torts hire. He isn't good for the long term. He will break up the country club and change the relaxed attitude. He will shake up the core and that is key. Our main guys have gotten way too comfortable and do not fear losing their jobs. They half-ass it out there and it shows; no urgency and they don't often give 100%. So, since we're not making any big moves, Torts in the next best thing.

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#10 puck-bandit
June 21 2013, 10:12PM
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Our loyal fan base jumping ship is far too premature for what may come in Sept. We can then judge the merits of what MG has promised in the closing blame game of another 1st round boot. Hypothetically speaking, more change has got to come, right? I know we all have our favorite coach's, and having Tort's probably scares most people, but look at what has happened. Out 1st round 2 years in a row, and no one took responsibility, players, or Gillis. Although I felt bad for AV he had a huge part in the failure of the no show on the ice. As I recall, our Canuck's played one or two 60 minute games all short season. So; I ask you this, if you were an owner what would you do? Yes; it resembles the days of Keenan, but we don't know until we give the guy a chance. As some of us have described our team, The Boy's From The Country Club, sitting relaxed on the bench with cocktails waiting for the game to be over. Kevin Bieska, and the twins quoting that we don't need a coach to light a fire under us. I say bring Tort's on, and bench half the team, get some of them to ask for trades, better than just Ballard sitting up in the Ivory tower alone. We deserve the Grail, and nothing less, 42 years of waiting is too long, and I am getting old and want it now, don't you? So; I decided that the disaster we are living in could very easily be changed with having a little fire on the bench. If Johnny T gets signed this weekend, I say good signing for the Canuck's.

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#11 Common Stick
June 22 2013, 01:10AM
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@JI123

The Sedin sisters... that's why. And they're not Italian.

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#12 Keenan Jr,
June 22 2013, 01:25AM
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@puck-bandit

You're exactly right. Torts is coming and the country club party is over. If Bieksa and Sedin like country clubs, they should go and join a real one, and leave competitive pro sports to real competitors. Even if Torts loses every single game here, it doesnt matter because the Canucks never had anything to lose.

Keenan was a slap in the face and a mirror, and folks who reside in country clubs do not like such a thing, so they got rid of him. And I'm sure the lazy country clubbers on the team will try to get torts fired too, but I look forward to seeing some of these lazy basterds getting traded...see how they like playing on another team who wont put up with excuses.

Trevor linden, Mclean, Lumme, all those country clubbers That were the real problems, Keenan traded them away and look what they accomplished after, nothing, They retired knowing that they had it soooo easy in Vancouver. Playing and losing and still getting rewarded. History is repeating itself again here. Watch out and remember, country clubbers never win anything because club members care more about comfort than competition.

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#13 Senrik Hedin
June 22 2013, 01:28AM
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no really, canucks fans are the worst haha

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#14 Ca scan
June 22 2013, 03:18AM
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Get rid of the twins. They are paid to be leaders but fail to do so season after season

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#15 Mantastic
June 22 2013, 10:54AM
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@puck-bandit

Loyal fan base? This is the team that has the biggest bandwagon in Canada. And you don't deserve anything, especially the cup

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#16 Number 66
June 22 2013, 12:07PM
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If Bieksa and Sedin are the ones saying they don't need a coach to fire them up, then it's safe to say they were and are the real problems with that dressing room. Last I checked, none of those guys showed up in the 7th game in the finals. It was an embarrassment for the ages. You cannot look at yourself as a real athlete when you don't even show up for the final game and then act like it's no big deal.

Goes to show you that when accountability shows up, the weak and unaccountable start crying about it. Maybe the Sedins can start a petition on why they shouldn't be blocking shots...cause it might hurt them. Boo hoo hoo.

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#17 NM00
June 22 2013, 01:52PM
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The "reset" comment by Gillis stood out for me as well.

But it's not altogether suprising. What else can he do considering the situation he has created?

I'm sure he would like to make a significant roster change aside from shipping out Lou, Ballard & Roy and giving the ice time to low-medium ceiling prospects.

A coaching change is just a prayer at this point. The idea that Tortorella is going to "get more" out of these players than AV is wishful thinking.

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#18 JCDavies
June 22 2013, 03:59PM
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"The Sedin sisters... "

The Nation Network wouldn't tolerate other forms of derogatory comments. Why is this still tolerated?

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#19 JCDavies
June 22 2013, 04:06PM
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Totally agree with AC.

Did everybody miss the report that the Sedins asked for this? I doesn't appear like they're too worried about Tortorella changing the locker room culture.

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#20 EGS
June 22 2013, 05:41PM
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I don't think any coach can fix our core, but, I do look forward to having Torts on board. Maybe, just maybe he'll be able to light a much needed fire under some of these complacent 'nucks!

Not sure that I'd call this a true reset, and it does seem as though MG has tweaked his original definition of what he meant by a reset, but nonetheless, good starting point. Hope there's more to come.

PS. Keep Lou.

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#21 24Roughing
June 23 2013, 12:15AM
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@JCDavies

Let me play devils advocate. So what now, if folks aren't allowed to use nicknames for fun what else can't we say? Should there be a rule here were by whenever referring to a Canucks loss we can't call it a loss but a " no victory?"

Seriously guys, really? Do we really need to baby millionaires who had a chance to show their stuff in the last few years and came up short? I'm sure the Sedins were called all sorts of names by Boston, the Sedins seem to be ok with it with their play.

But fear not Canuck fans, the Hawks are showing you guys what to do against a team like Boston. Put your feet up, grab a brewsky and watch a team like the Hawks teach you guys how to dismantle Boston. If the Hawks win the cup, the Boston style of play will be dead. Chara? He's good when opponents stay away from him and avoid him, but when you play the bugger, he falls apart. This unfortunately is some thing the Canucks could not do. Time to take notes, boys.

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#22 Karmov
June 23 2013, 04:37AM
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@GC99

The Sedins play the most ice time along with their mates. They are invisible in the playoffs. The results dictate the facts, the Sedins do not get a get out of jail pass just because they are nice guys off the ice.

This team for the last 2 years starting with the finals against Boston has shown they have no heart, no passion and no will to win. And with the lousy trades Gillis has made, they are even more short on grit..if there is any left. The system under AV did not work, and if what is broken is not righted, more of the same will happen.

AV is an over rated coach, and his problem is that he is as " dense" as a man can get. He will never bring a cup to NY because he's shown he has no sense of accountability in his ways, and his ducking of press after 2 humiliating play off exits concretely stamps out this fact. AV's teams play like him, without passion or resilience. Everyone saw the landslide shift in momentum starting after the Rome hit...everyone except AV. Everyone saw Luongos meltdowns and the teams...except AV. The Hawks are proving to play the Bruins all you have to do is play them by playing your game no matter what. The Canucks let everything get to them in the finals, the Rome hit, the scrums, Marchand..everything. Looking back a team that implodes like that deserves to lose.

And Boston this year will suffer the wrath of karma. Gone is Campbell, no more favorable calls by daddys new employee, Shanny. No more 7th games against Tampa with no penalties in the game. No more favorable calls. And the best part of karma is...This year the team Boston 's playing in the finals aint the Canucks.So Mark Rechi, if you are reading this, sit back and watch your team lose in the finals, especially because after your team fluked out that year, and talked trash in the summer, ei, crybaby lucic who's always running his mouth, Thornton who couldnt keep his mouth shut,and of course you Rechi and your classless mouth.. sit back Rechi and enjoy watching the Hawks expose and dismantle your team. Too bad for you the Hawks aint the Canucks. LOL. Goona so enjoy watching Lucic and Marchand sit there with that look on their faces when they watch the Hawks hoist the cup.

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#23 True homer
June 23 2013, 05:27AM
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@Karmov

+1000. This year won't be Bostons year. Just like Vancouver, the mouthy Boston fans are going to taste what Van had 3 years ago, hopefully a riot in Boston to boot. They already had the fake-ass bombings, they should go for a triple crown.

Boston is tasting a lot of what they had coming. No biased calls going their way. Chara is starting to be proven ineffective by the Hawks top line.Bergeron is carted off to the hospital like Raymond was.Campbell got hurt and now his interloping father have to watch on the sidelines, so beautiful. Marchand is in his own head, unable to effect anything on a team like the Hawks, who unlike the Canucks, seem to know how to put him in his place. The bounces are not going bostons way, and if not for the lucky goal post goal in the ot, the Hawks may well be up 3-1 instead of 3-2.The look on the boston players faces says it all, ala- Cancusk in the finals.

You're right, karma has a funny way of showing up arrogance fools like the Bruins and their fans. They win one cup in how many years against the only team they could possibly beat in the finals, then they act all high and mighty and now, it's not just another first round exit...they are on the verge of the most painful of all chokes, going all the way to the finals to lose. Just like the Canucks 3 yrs ago, this would be the most fitting way the hovkey gods pay back the Boston fans, seeing their team go all the way only to choke..cruelty is always more effective when it is long and painful. Watching the Bruins suffer and tank just like the Canucks is the best thing short of a Cup here. And as far as Iam concerned, that cup Boston won will always have an * over it. Boston had all the help from the league that year to win, and if anyone disagrees, than show me all the emails of " instructions" the league sent the refs that year. Sock puppet Shanny can't even decide what is a suspendable hit or not...what a clown. The league is starting to resemble the WWE.

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#24 Ruprecht
June 23 2013, 12:50PM
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One thing I really missed watching over the last couple of seasons that we're going to get a nice dose of with the Fonz, is hitting. I have no idea why it left our game. We were a more intense and entertaining team when we were on the body, but totally got into passive mode with AV. Torts coached teams dish out the punishment as much as they take it. At the very least I doubt we lack intensity or push back under his watch, it's not in his make-up.

So in that respect I think the biggest part of the reset is behind us. A much needed new culture and leadership, with that prized ring to prove he's battle tested. Personally, from the day he was fired I thought he'd be the best man for the job out here, and feel lucky that Gillis got the job done. So kudos on that one.

Keep in mind it's still pretty early in the summer and our management team has made pretty good headway with what they've had on their plate. I think despite what he says to reporters, necessity dictates there will be some more eyebrow raising moves.

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#25 JCDavies
June 23 2013, 02:04PM
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@24Roughing

Really? Did you try to defend that comment by saying it's OK because it's all in good fun and the Sedins are millionaires so they should be able to take it anyways? Come on, man.

The Sedins, and all their millions, are fair game but if you can't make an argument without insulting 3+ billion people then the rest of your comment probably isn't worth much anyways.

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#26 Ruprecht
June 23 2013, 04:48PM
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JCDavies wrote:

Really? Did you try to defend that comment by saying it's OK because it's all in good fun and the Sedins are millionaires so they should be able to take it anyways? Come on, man.

The Sedins, and all their millions, are fair game but if you can't make an argument without insulting 3+ billion people then the rest of your comment probably isn't worth much anyways.

As soon as you take the bait you're on the line. Let it pass you by and you are free to let the lesser fish fight over it.

The Sedins have been a treat as far as I'm concerned. They've given an awful lot to us over the years, and are reaping the just rewards. Find me a team that isn't questioning their stars' abilities at the end of the season and you'll probably find a champion.

That being said, it would be awfully nice to put them in a scenario where it doesn't all fall onto their shoulders. This is a team sport after all and every year it's the best team that wins...not the best players.

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#27 24Roughing
June 23 2013, 05:35PM
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@JCDavies

Yes and that is your opinion. Other don't look at the Sedin's as a treat but a disappointment. Who dies and made you the god of hockey?

Why should others baby the team just because you're overly sensitive and can't take criticism that's not even directed at you?

And yes, it is on their shoulders, they play together like peas in a pod, one wears the C and they get millions payed to them, by fans who come to the games and fork out good money for a product many do not get in return. So yes, it's on them so quit acting like they walk about water. They are anything but and all that babying is making the team even bigger babies and a bigger country club.

If the Sedin's were on the 4th line doing nothing that's one thing, but they are not. They get a tone of money and play the most minutes, it's time for them to man up, shape up or ship out. There are fans out there have no no more time for excuses and coddling.

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#28 Ruprecht
June 23 2013, 06:51PM
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@24Roughing

Just curious, since this is such a big thing in your mind and we're in presently reset mode, how do you solve this problem without being insulting? Or can you?

I suspect the best way is to provide a much better palette of secondary players. Price will be a problem, we do have certain assets to give. I think the biggest issue has to do with the quality of our fringe players which has deteriorated considerably since the Finals. Kinda makes it easier to focus on our top guys and go gunning for them.

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#29 Lemming
June 23 2013, 06:54PM
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@24Roughing

No one's saying the Sedins can't be criticized, though in my mind it's generally unfair criticisms, I think we'd all defend your right to criticize them.

The issue is that by calling them sisters, you're implying women are weak and pathetic. If that's honestly what you think, I don't think you're going to get much of anyone's time from here on out, certainly not mine. I genuinely hope this is not what you think.

As far as the hire, I've been hoping for this ever since Torts was sacked from NYR. He's genuinely entertaining in my mind. I mean, how comforting will it be after a Canucks loss to have him flying off the handle? I think it's cute the Canucks brass think they can keep him chained up. Unleash the beast, Torts!

Seriously though, it's hard the shake the idea that the team has been dogging it ever since the finals loss, especially this past season. I'm hoping that the reset is in effect the idea that they just needed a regime change in the locker room to make them feel like a new, rejuvenated team again. The Canucks did do fairly well this season without having a 2nd line, but they just couldn't hold onto anything in the playoffs. I hope Torts can motivate the lot of them.

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#30 24Roughing
June 23 2013, 07:16PM
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@Ruprecht

INSULTING? when was I being insulting? I didn't call nobody here names. Are you the Sedins? Can you accept other ppls criticisms of the Canucks without having to lash out and baby them? If you want to coddle the twins than that's up to you, but don't force other folks to baby and sugar coat ugliness either. It's not a rosy world in Canuckland, last time I checked. And if it's seems acceptable to you now, it's because it was terrible back when.

Reset? The quality of your fringe players are gone because Gillis lost them to other teams signings or traded them away. nothing new here, trade the grit and the folks who helped the team get tot he finals and keep the inept core...nothing new here, move along, seen that before a dozen times. In the UFC, you lose 3 times and you're practically kicked out of the company. In business, if you lose once, you're out of business. I find it funny that if you play for the Canucks, the more you lose the more chances you get. Hmmm.. makes you think right? Does it? Or am I being " insulting" again?

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#31 pheenster
June 23 2013, 07:30PM
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I'm in total agreement with AC; this thread is full of moronic comments from a crew of mouth-breathing idiots and/or trolls. Mods, let's nuke it and start over.

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#32 24Roughing
June 23 2013, 07:32PM
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@Lemming

It is what it is. Look, you think being called sisters is bad? You should get a micro phone on the ice and see what's said in todays game. The things said even 15 years ago would make anyone cringe. Now are we not all getting all little too PC here? This "team" needs a good long bollocking...because babying them obviously have not gotten the job done.

The canucks are more interested in " branding" then winning, the problem compounds itself more when the fans also buy into it. Let's be honest here, the Canucks have been saying they need a center, a second line, a goaltender, etc etc for a long long time. You start to wonder if that is ever true given their circumstances.

Torts will try to motivate them , yes, but what if the players are lazy and hopeless? What then? Well, I guess it's not the cores fault, it's the coaches. Enter the Canuck Cycle of Coddling again.

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#33 24Roughing
June 23 2013, 07:40PM
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@pheenster

I think you need to get a hold of your " no one can criticize my team " rage. You need help man, seriously. It's a team of millionaires, who could care less about what you think when they have a bed of money to sleep on.

They can and better be able to take criticism, so should you buddy. If folks who have differing views are trolls then does that make you a Canuck shill? It's just a game played by wealthy players, it's entertainment, and when ppl pay for a product they don't receive, you can damn well bet they have a right to complain. If you and the Canucks cant take the heat, then get out of the kitchen, man. It's hockey, not Yoga.

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#34 pheenster
June 23 2013, 07:56PM
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@24Roughing

Who says I was talking about you, big boy?

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#35 Lemming
June 23 2013, 08:21PM
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@24Roughing

Yes, and no player has ever gotten in trouble for anything he's communicated while on the ice.

I mean, seriously, the fact that you're degrading half the human population is justifiable because some millionaires disconnected from society because they're famous and play a game do it?

If we all walked around acting like celebrities do, I'd kill myself.

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#36 Lemming
June 23 2013, 08:25PM
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@24Roughing

Also, I agree, no question, I feel "branded to" way too often. I don't necessarily feel like the criticisms of most of the players are fair (i.e. they're usually one-sided and agenda driven rather than done in an attempt to be fair), but I don't think the Sedins are the problem. The Canucks haven't had much forward depth for a while. In particular, I pin that on the GM for trading away two young, developed talent in Hodgson and Grabner, both trades that I hated as soon as I heard them.

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#37 24Roughing
June 23 2013, 09:30PM
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@Lemming

The fact that you think I'm degrading half the population tells me you are way too sensitive and chances are, way to PC for you own good. No wonder they call Vancouver a no fun city.

Yes, if rich athletes don;t preform I'd call them pond scum if it would get them to shape up and I don't care if i insult all of god's creatures living in ponds.

If I took comments as seriously as you obviously do, I'd kill myself. But alas, I'm still here. Lighten up buddy, before you get labeled as a " no fun boner buster." Or am "I now insulting all species with erect penises?

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#38 24Roughing
June 23 2013, 09:32PM
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@pheenster

Says me, big boy. That my opinion, take it or leave it, pally.

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#39 24Roughing
June 23 2013, 09:35PM
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@pheenster

And you do have " no one can criticize my team " rage. Chill out before you blow a lung, homie. they say that high blood pressure is a silent killer. It aint worth it , homie.

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#40 Lemming
June 23 2013, 09:53PM
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I think it's about time to stop feeding the troll.

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