NHL Franchise Notes: Canucks "Gambling" With Hiring Of John Tortorella
In Vancouver, Tony Gallagher wrote the move by Canucks President & GM Mike Gillis and team ownership to hire John Tortorella as coach is a "calculated gamble which could reap significant rewards or land them out of the playoffs in the newly realigned NHL." Gillis is "gambling his job," and that is "consistent with what he’s all about, to say nothing of the push from the highly charged and recently disgruntled ownership." Gillis "didn’t get into this business to hang onto his job as long as possible so as to make as much money as possible." He took the job to "win a Stanley Cup, not for any other reason." This move is "entirely consistent with trying to give it one last shot to win" (Vancouver PROVINCE, 6/23). But NBC Sports Network’s Anson Carter said of Tortorella, “He’s jumping from the frying pan into the fire. You thought the media here in New York was tough? The media in Canada is a killer” (“NHL Live,” NBC Sports Network, 6/22).
LOW-RISK MOVE: In New Jersey, Tara Sullivan wrote Rangers’ management has "for too long made it too easy to make them a punch line, down to the actual curtain owner James Dolan passed in and out of to deliver a short opening statement of welcome" to new coach Alain Vigneault. But this time around, the Rangers’ "brain trust took the smart turn toward experience and enlightenment." Hockey HOFer Mark Messier "would have won his news conference, but with a team built to win now ... the risk was too high." Vigneault "had the résumé to win this head-to-head matchup" (Bergen RECORD, 6/22).
CITY OF GOODWILL: In Seattle, Geoff Baker writes the NHL has a "Plan B" for the Coyotes which involves "uprooting by September to a Seattle market with foggy ownership, no firm arena deal and questionable hockey demand." Quebec City is the "more plausible threat, given its new arena being built, solid temporary facility, local ownership and rabid fans." But the league would "rather expand there later and charge hundreds of millions in fees." That leaves "little else but Seattle to throw in Glendale’s face." Baker: "Even if no one calls the NHL’s bluff, it’s worth examining why we suddenly became leverage for a second sports league in two months" (SEATTLE TIMES, 6/24).