Unless John Tortorella chooses unemployment over the coaching job in Vancouver, it's fair to assume the man known for his interactions with the media is headed to one of the most involved hockey markets in the game. As reported by ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun, Tortorella is expected to take that position following contract negotiations.
After two decisive first-round exits in the past two years, we knew big changes were coming to the Vancouver Canucks (and they still are), but few would have predicted such a dramatic change behind the bench.
There's no question Tortorella will bring a certain spark to the team, but the real question is whether that spark will help. We all know how Tortorella coaches. He's honest, harsh and doesn't forget when a player makes a costly mistake.
Let's start with the Sedin family. Henrik and Daniel Sedin are used to leading the team with their cycle game. They've done it the same way their entire careers, and they're not going to change now—nor do they need to. The Sedins will continue to lead as they have, and they will succeed in doing so.
Ryan Kesler, on the other hand, has a huge opportunity to grow under Torts. Tortorella coaches with fire, and Kesler plays with it. Despite his skill, Kesler can be inconsistent. Tortorella is the coach who will quickly call Kesler out for poor play, and Kesler is the player who will respond to that.
By the end of the 2013-14 season, there will be no doubt that Ryan Kesler is ready to lead the team when the Sedin era comes to an end.
David Booth and Keith Ballard could also respond well to Tortorella's style, but I'll refrain from speculating further, as their status on the team is very much in question.
Then we have Cory Schneider, the talented young goalie who we can only assume will be the starter for the Canucks next year. For years, Schneider has shined in the shadow of Roberto Luongo, proving time and time again that he's ready for the No. 1 role. He's handled the goalie controversy as well as any, but he ended last year in unspectacular fashion.
Despite his years of consistency and poise, Tortorella could be the man who finally gets to Schneids and damages his confidence. Although a concern, this is dependent not only on Tortorella accepting the job, but Schneider remaining with the team.
On the whole, we can expect change with Tortorella behind the bench, but change is all. The Canucks will not slip under his lead, nor will they thrive.
The fate of the team is not up to Tortorella—it's in the hands of general manager Mike Gillis, who still has some major offseason changes to make in order to win back the support of the fans.
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