There’s No Such Thing As A #FreeTorts

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Yes. That is how much it will cost Francesco Aquillini to free Torts from his responsibilities. 

Whatever those are. 

I mean, he runs as few practices as he can get away with. Doesn’t attend game-day skates. Heck, he’s even delegated his in-game tirades during time-outs to his assistant coach.

The point is, whatever it is that John Tortorella does for the Canucks, it’s not coaching.

So if it’s true that Tortorella was not Mike Gillis’ candidate-of-choice for to replace the departed Alain Vigneault last summer, but rather a hire made at the insistence of the Canucks’ owner, then Gillis has a very small window to fix that mistake before it costs him his job. And if there’s one thing Gillis should now a thing or two about, it’s rapidly closing windows.

It’s quite fitting that this opportunity is manifesting itself as the Canucks get ready to play the Caps on Friday night. Bruce Boudreau’s experience in Washington is illustrative. You see, it’s quite often during PDO slumps that coaches get fired. Normally, I would be arguing that firing a coach during an abysmal PDO stretch would be a bad thing, because PDO is really just a proxy for puck luck, and is bound to revert back toward the mean. But in this case, we’re dealing with the Mariana Trench of PDOs:

PDO

So this is like Mike Gillis’ one and only chance to convince Aquillini that Tortorella is the wrong coach, at the wrong time for the wrong team.

If it hasn’t already, that PDO will bottom out and start trending back toward 100. It may even get back to 100 by the end of the season. It already looks like it may be starting to climb up the other side.

String a few of those together and all of a sudden we might be back in simply explaining this all away as bad luck and injuries. Sure, that’s actually true, but Tortorella has not given us any sign that he has any progressive, innovative coaching ideas. 

He is more Mike Keenan than Scotty Bowman.

And while I’m not generally a big subscriber to the idea that coaches can significantly impact on-ice performance, there is one exception:

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Now, while I don’t think Tortorella is down in Bill Laforge territory, he is sliding up that curve and is not that different from Keenan, or even, gasp, Randy Carlyle.

Where Alain Vigneault had a process, which was based on puck posession, Tortorella apparently has a structure, which if it’s based on anything, it’s territory: collapse down low when it’s in your end, throw it through the neutral zone, and dump it into the offensive end and if you happen to gain possession, fire it at the net. There’s little attention to who has the puck; it’s more about where it is.

Instead of actually coaching the players, his attitude is apparently, “Suck it up, you’re professionals. That’s our structure and you’re going to play it.”

Unfortunately, they appear to have heard the first word, and then tuned him out.

Anyway, this was not meant to be a point-by-point takedown of Tortorella. The bottom line is that Gillis has a limited-time, PDO-driven opportunity to act. As they say, never let a good crisis go to waste.

Unless moral victories are now one of the standings tie-breakers, Tortorella’s stint as head coach of this team is just as pointless:

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RECENT GRAPHIC COMMENTS

There aren’t any. If you hadn’t noticed, I haven’t put up a post since early January. That’s right, I gave up on this team before it was cool. Or maybe I’m the cause of the slide. We’re a stats-driven blog here at Canucks Army and there’s a pretty high correlation there…

But if you want some not-so-recent Graphic Comments, here you go:

  • Fred-65

    NM00 = No Graphics Comments

    Write for this blog. The people demand it.

    I agree that the Torts narrative is pretty irrelevant, the team is scraping the bottom of the barrel for talent.

    Basically, we’re seeing the team if Santorelli were never signed.

    You can argue Torts is a good or bad coach either way (I seem to remember a number of old posts suggesting that coaches make little to no difference compared to the roster). It doesn’t matter if they don’t have the players.

    • Fred-65

      I already write on this blog as a commenter and edit posts as I see fit. That’s plenty for me…

      For the most part, I really don’t have an issue with Torts’ coaching “style” just as I didn’t have an issue with AV on the whole.

      Though I’m willing to listen to an argument (something more than “preaches outshooting the opponent!”) that one coach is better than the other.

      As an example, I found it somewhat encouraging when TD did his post on Torts bring “safe is death” to the lower mainland.

      It’s the extracurricular stuff with Torts that I can do without.

      If most of these middle managers are the same, I’d rather avoid the one that (seemingly) has too many issues with his players, the media, the opposing team & coaching staff etc…

      • Graphic Comments

        The thing is, “safe is death” was all talk and no action.

        Tortorella’s teams in NY didn’t play like that, and the Canucks haven’t played that. If anything, they have shown that safe IS death even more than they did under AV.

  • Fred-65

    Vcr’s double run into California showed the team for what it was. In the early going they had success mainly against poor teams but against the tough teams couldn’t get the ball across the line…..that’s when the players turn to the coach for answers….and he didn’t…doesn’t have any. I can’t believe the lack of time he actually spends with the team versus the time he spends with his dogs…the dogs win by a paw. If there’s a problem IMO you work harder longer and better until you solve the crisis….not so Mr Tortorella…or so we’re told to believe. When the GM has to tell the coach he needs to spend more time decemenating the “word” / system it doesn’t look good. It might be the players on this team are “smarter” than the coach and have raised flaws in his system to which he has no answers

  • Graphic Comments

    Looking back at it now, I think Torts’ system wasn’t going to mesh with the team we have. At first I thought his accountability approach, appossed to AV’s it’s a process approach, worked with our veterans and this was a reason why we had some early season success. As time went on his system of dump it out/dump it in began to wear on the team. They’re worn out physically by the way it’s been hammered into them that blocking shots is more important than scoring goals. Not to mention that our top guys will be league leaders in toi. I think a blend of more accountability but maintaining puck possession would have been a better system.
    Torts will in all likelihood take the fall this year.
    My suggestion for the next coach:
    Don Hay

    Whether or not Torts was an ownership decision is debatable. Gillis’ trade record/asset management has fallen on hard times. Every GM has his worts, but I think his biggest mistake was not revamping our scouting department when he first got the job. What did they see in Prab Rai that they didn’t see in Jamie Benn?
    Gillis should be held accountable for allowing this asset deterioration to reach this point.
    My suggestion for the next GM:
    Igor Larionov

  • James M

    Gillis: I need to fire Torts.

    Aquillini: Then why did you hire him?

    Dedicating an entire post to a baseless rumour while attributing the possession difference between Torts & AV to their coaching “styles” as opposed to the talent on the roster.

    C-

    • andyg

      Talent on the roster is almost the same as last year. Add Santo and Kess has had a healthy year up until now. A full year of Tanev and the addition of Richardson and Stanton.

      Get your facts straight!

      • andyg

        “But Tortorella has shown he has no answers when it comes to dealing with the adversity of injuries and a run of bad puck luck.”

        You can’t simultaneously call it “puck luck” and expect Torts to throw fairy dust on his players to suddenly make them “lucky”.

        Not if you’re trying to be logical, that is.

        “If anything, his pride in the “moral victory” over LA, followed by the fiasco in Anaheim and culminating with his tirade and suspension, all in the space of a week, speak volumes about the tools in his coaching toolbox.”

        At least you’re getting to legitimate reasons to fire Torts now.

        Though they are the same reasons he never should have been hired in the first place.

        “That’s to say nothing of the utter lack of judgement he showed in alienating Luongo, and by all accounts, Kesler too.”

        If alienating Luongo bothers you, perhaps look at the incompetent GM who had started the process years ago.

        “The bottom line is, if Gillis wants to get out of the noose Aquillini put around his next last summer, now is his chance.”

        There is no way someone who works with fancystats can be this illogical.

        There is ZERO evidence that Torts was not Gillis’ #1 choice for the coaching position.

        And even if we take the rumour as true (which you absolutely should not), why would Aquillini allow Gillis to fire Torts NOW?

        Because you are the only person privy to the fact that the Canucks have endured some bad luck in 2014?

        “Anyway, the point above wasn’t to make the case that Torts should be fired. I’m not going to convince anyone that doesn’t want to be convinced.”

        You certainly won’t with this swiss cheese argument.

        “They were doing fine while not facing any adversity.”

        Why was there ZERO mention of this a mere 3 months ago?

        http://canucksarmy.com/2013/12/2/narratives-damned-narratives-and-statistifcal-anomalies

        Why was there not more attention paid to how/when the Canucks were controlling possession in a piece specifically written to deconstructing narratives?

        Where were these “system” criticisms 3 months ago?

        And, most importantly, why are you blaming Torts for the talent (and I use that term loosely) that Gillis has assembled at the bottom of the NHL roster and in Utica?

        For the record, I’m ready to move on from Torts as well.

        But not for any of these poorly argued & reactionary reasons that fit your preconceived notion of why he should be fired…

    • Graphic Comments

      They were doing fine while not facing any adversity. In those steady state conditions, I really don’t think theres much difference between most coaches.

      But Tortorella has shown he has no answers when it comes to dealing with the adversity of injuries and a run of bad puck luck. He hasn’t shown anything that would give me confidence in his decision making abilities, and he probably can’t fix a toaster either. If anything, his pride in the “moral victory” over LA, followed by the fiasco in Anaheim and culminating with his tirade and suspension, all in the space of a week, speak volumes about the tools in his coaching toolbox.

      That’s to say nothing of the utter lack of judgement he showed in alienating Luongo, and by all accounts, Kesler too.

      Anyway, the point above wasn’t to make the case that Torts should be fired. I’m not going to convince anyone that doesn’t want to be convinced. The bottom line is, if Gillis wants to get out of the noose Aquillini put around his next last summer, now is his chance. It’s a fleeting one, and it may have already passed.