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?