"Just call me Torts," John Tortorella said casually, "I’ve been called a lot of things but I prefer Torts."
And so went the John Tortorella vs the fans Youtube-powered chat.
You only need to look back to the comments to see what was the point of the Canucks’ approach to introducing their new coach.
This was about John Tortorella the salesman; the kinder, gentler Tortorella.
"There won’t be much Torts vs Brooksie here," was the suggestion.
And so it went, as the Canucks showed off their shiny new thing on Tuesday morning, hoping no one would notice that while the window dressing was new, the inside of the shop remained much the same.
More after the jump.
This was a happy-go-lucky image the Canucks were seeking to show. Sitting with Mike Gillis, Tortorella was handed fan-submitted questions by play-by-play man John Shorthouse. They were carefully framed questions, chosen to show Tortorella’s softer side as much as anything.
Call me ‘Torts’ and yes, I like dogs but no, I don’t really understand Twitter
He says his twitter account is managed by his daughter, so don’t get too excited.
While the bulk of the "interview" consisted of Shorthouse framing questions that could sell the team’s message, the post-interview pseudo-debrief focused on Tortorella’s softer side – things like his passion for rescue dogs (he’s got four) and what to call him: "only my mother calls me by my first name." (Poor David Ebner – he is not much of a fan of journalist-types addressing players and coaches by their nicknames…)
Oh and he says he’s going to check out the Grouse Grind.
On with the show…
I still have the utmost confidence in the mission
When you are a club that is as focused on message, that shouldn’t be a surprise. Everyone had a media-fuelled impression of Tortorella from his days in New York; this was the coach who would give press conferences that were so notable for their brevity that reporters were as interested in the number of words spoken by the Boston-born Stanley Cup-winning coach as they were in his pithy answers.
Of course, a lot of Tortorella’s abrasiveness with the questions he would be asked was about the inanity of the questioning, but that was something that would rarely come up. Instead the narrative was – this guy’s a crank and doesn’t like talking nicely much.
In Vancouver, it was expected that this could prove to be explosive.
Hence Tortorella responding to Shorthouse’s prodding by saying things like, "I’ve certainly made my own in bed in that" and "I’m going to cultivate my relationship in that…I want this to work…I do come with some baggage, I readily admit that…I made some misatkes along the way…I am compelled to make this work."
Remind anyone of Hal 9000 trying to save his digital skin after he’d killed the rest of the crew? Dave Bowman shuts down the psychotic supercomputer, in an act of self-preservation.
Change comes from within; or we’re hard up against the salary cap, so we can’t sign anyone
"It’s about building from within and about your team that’s here right now; it’s not about bringing others in."
Now, brace yourselves, Canucks fans, here’s a truth. A good coach has to work with the cards he’s been dealt. Tortorella knows the squad he has is what it is: a group of talented veterans, who nearly reached the pinnacle but have been struggling to find ultimate success the last two years, mashed together with some intriguing youngsters.
Some might say that Tortorella has been drinking the Canucks’ kool-aid, but then again a man who’s just been hired into a rather coveted job is always going to talk about the party line. That’s how getting hired works. No one steps into a new job and starts lambasting the regime.
At least no one who wants to last in the job very long.
John Tortorella may be a different cat in the long term, but at the moment, he’s not Brian Clough.
Crazy techniques might be useful
Tortorella was asked about adjusting to coaching in the west, something that he used to key on the challenge of travel. He directly pointed to the work the Canucks have been doing about best practices in when to travel etc.
"I’m going to be talking to Mike, especially when it comes to travel," Tortorella said.
See folks – the new coach is a team player. He believes in what we are doing here.
If there had been any doubt about what Tortorella thinks of the Canucks black-sheep approach to management and strategy, they were dismissed in the very first answer, a response to how he dealt with being fired and finding a new job.
"A man who thinks outside of the box, that has a vision of where he wants to go," he said of his new boss.
Getting to the summit is about being good, but it’s also about dumb luck
Maybe Tortorella should write for Canucks Army. Those of you who have been reading this site for any length of time know that we never had a problem with the Vigneault/Gillis ‘focus on the process’ paradigm.
Tortorella is being presented as an outsider who sees things the same way. Shorthouse asked about his cup-winning Lighting team.
They won the ultimate prize but "didn’t know what that meant," Tortorella said. Being "young and dumb," was an asset.
"We stayed healthy, had a bit of luck," he said.
Tortorella talked about the mental aspect of winning, about how the Canucks had been there, but suggested that winning a championship required "getting over another notch mentally."
One wonders how he’ll feel about the mind room.
The Q&A in full: