How are the Vancouver Canucks going to be different under new coach John Tortorella?
For one thing, Henrik Sedin may soon find himself in the firing line on and off the ice.
“I’ll tell you right now, [the Sedins] are going to kill penalties,” said Tortorella at his unveiling Tuesday at Rogers Arena. “And if they’re going to kill penalties, they’re going to block shots. I think they’ll welcome it because they want to get better, they want to win a championship, and that’s how you win a championship.”
The Canucks, in their never-ending and frustrating quest for the Cup, will no longer be a club that keeps their top offensive players off the penalty kill and leave the sacrificial defensive plays to grinders.
“There is going to be more asked of them,” said Tortorella, a Stanley Cup winner with Tampa Bay in 2004. “That starts from the twins, right on down. I think we need some more bite. I think the attitude of being a stiffer team is going to come to the forefront as we try to get to another level.”
Henrik, who has been largely kept off the PK by former coach Alain Vigneault (who effectively swapped clubs with Tortorella with this hiring last week in New York), says he’s ready to make the adjustment.
He is also ready to play under a coach whose bark is notoriously as loud as his teams’ bite.
“As a player you want honesty, I don’t think it matters how it’s put toward you,” said Sedin. “It doesn’t matter if you have a coach that comes in and yells at you. If it makes sense, and you buy it, then it’s totally fine.”
Forward Christopher Higgins played 55 games under “Torts” with the Rangers and called the move a good fit for Vancouver.
“He gets his team to compete, first of all,” said Higgins. “That’s what he brings out of his players the most. I had a lot of respect for him [in New York] … he’s a fair and honest coach.”
More than anything, Tortorella says he wants to put his reputation back on track after an acrimonious relationship with media during his time with the Rangers threatened to overshadow his career accomplishments.
“I’d like to rectify that. This is the mess I’ve put myself into. I make my own bed with this stuff that is on me,” he said. “But you know what? I think I’m a pretty good coach too.”
But maybe that temper and competitiveness is just what the Canucks, who have been bounced from the first round of the playoffs two years on the trot, is just what the team needs.
“I hate losing,” the coach said in classic fashion. “Everybody says ‘be a good loser.’ I think if you’re a good loser, you’re a loser.”