Ranking the Most Likely Causes for John Tortorella's 1st Blow Up in Vancouver

Steve SilvermanFeatured ColumnistSeptember 11, 2013

Ranking the Most Likely Causes for John Tortorella's 1st Blow Up in Vancouver

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    When the New York Rangers fired John Tortorella after the team lost its conference semifinal series to the Boston Bruins in five games, it seemed the move was a long time in coming.

    Tortorella's Rangers had been the favorites in the Eastern Conference each of his last two seasons, but they were playoff disappointments. 

    The Rangers fired him, and it seemed that he might have to take a year or two off before he got hired again. However, the Vancouver Canucks came calling.

    Owner Francesco Aquilini thought his team needed a hard-nosed butt kicker behind the bench, and the Canucks hired Tortorella.

    While Tortorella was introspective after his firing in New York, it seems certain that the Canucks will have the same nasty, aggressive egomaniac behind their bench that the Rangers had behind theirs.

    Tortorella, of course, has a temper. He may keep that temper hidden for a week or a month, but at some point he will come out firing. 

    There are many potential targets, including his players, the officials, opponents and the media. In this piece, we rank who is most likely to be the subject of Tortorella's wrath first.

Owner Francesco Aquilini

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    Excuse me? Why in the world would the Canucks' owner be listed here?

    John Tortorella is a lot of things, but stupid is not one of them. However, he may look at his new team and start chafing at the thought of so many soft players.

    Tortorella knows that the care and feeding of the franchise begins at the top. Francesco Aquilini has created the atmosphere that has caused the Canucks to shrink so many times at crucial moments, and Tortorella is not going to lie to himself and say that somebody besides the owner is responsible for that.

    Tortorella will quickly get fed up and he will want to read his boss the riot act. 

    He may eventually do that, but Aquilini will certainly not be the first person to feel his wrath.

     

    Odds Tortorella will light up Aquilini: 50-1

The Twins

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    Ahh, Henrik and Daniel Sedin.

    They have been the Canucks' best offensive players throughout their tenure in Vancouver. When the Swedish twins were selected with the second and third picks in the first round of the 1999 NHL draft, they were hailed as the Canucks' saviors.

    They have lived up to the expectations, but they are not exactly John Tortorella's kind of players. They may be able to skate like the wind, pass the puck with beauty and precision and find the top corner, but the Sedins will never be physical hockey players.

    The Sedins will not initiate body checks, and that is going to irritate Tortorella.

    Is he going to show it, and is he going to unleash on the Sedins?

    Probably not. They will get under his skin, but it's not likely that they will be the subject of his first blowout.

     

    Odds Tortorella will light them up: 25-1

Roberto Luongo

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    Roberto Luongo knows just what he is.

    He is a good NHL goaltender, but he is also one with flaws. Luongo remembers better than anyone that he was driven from the net twice in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final vs. the Boston Bruins, and that he lost the seventh game 4-0 at home.

    He will never forget it, just like he will never forget the gold medal he won in the 2010 Olympics for Canada in Vancouver. 

    He is what he is, and he does not try to project some kind of false confidence. When he makes mistakes, he admits them and doesn't try to blame others or pretend they didn't happen.

    At one level, John Tortorella will appreciate that Luongo is a stand-up guy. However, he will not appreciate having a goaltender with flaws. Tortorella coached Henrik Lundqvist during his time in New York, and Luongo is not going to fare well in the comparison.

    Luongo's inconsistent play will anger Tortorella. The coach may make his irritation known to those around him.

     

    Odds Tortorella calls out Luongo: 18-1

San Jose Sharks Coach Todd McLellan

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    When John Tortorella is behind the bench, he will strike a pose with his hands on his hips and his jaw sticking straight out.

    Go ahead, make my day.

    Tortorella is not the only coach in the Western Conference who relishes confrontation. Take a look at San Jose coach Todd McLellan. While he can come across as a nice guy, he is not going to take any guff or foolishness from anyone.

    Tortorella is going to want to beat all of his new Western Conference rivals, but especially the Sharks, since they eliminated the Canucks in four games last spring.

    When McLellan's Sharks fight back against the Canucks, don't be surprised if Tortrorella lets loose with a volley about the Sharks' gameplan or the way they play hockey with an edge when the two teams meet in the first game of the season Oct. 3.

     

    Odds Tortorella engages McLellan: 13-1

General Manager Mike Gillis

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    Mike Gillis is John Tortorella's boss, so it may not be the smartest thing for the coach to start firing grenades in his direction.

    But Tortorella knows that Gillis is not in the strongest position. The Canucks have had their chances through the years, but their window of opportunity may have closed. It appears that their best days are behind them and that it may take a new general manager to restock the shelves.

    Tortorella may be of a mind to throw Gillis an anchor. Perhaps he wants to be the general manager as well as the coach. Of course he wants to be the general manager as well as the coach.

    If the Canucks struggle because there are personnel weaknesses, Tortorella will almost certainly put that on Gillis. However, if the Canucks get off to a good start, he may try even harder to identify Gillis's weaknesses, because it will make him look stronger.

     

    Odds that Tortorella embarrasses Gillis: 10-1

David Booth

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    John Tortorella regularly finds players to pick on because they are not playing the way he wants them too.

    David Booth could find himself to be the object of Tortorella's barbs. Booth played just 12 games last year and missed 20 games the season before. 

    Injuries don't sit well with Tortorella, especially when that player is earning $4.25 million and is supposed to provide the team with secondary scoring. 

    If Booth plays disappointing hockey, Tortorella won't hesitate to go after him.

     

    Odds Tortorella calls out Booth: 8-1

Patrick Kane

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    There is legitimate hatred between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Vancouver Canucks. The two teams met in the playoffs three straight times between 2009 and 2011 and each series resulted in bad blood between the two teams.

    If John Tortorella doesn't know about it now, he will pick up on it by the time the Blackhawks come to Vancouver Nov. 23.

    If the defending Stanley Cup champions play one of their signature games against the Canucks and Patrick Kane is making them look foolish because of his skill and quickness, Tortorella may go after him verbally after the game.

    Tortorella does not like to be humiliated, and Kane is capable of doing that to him.

     

    Odds Tortorella calls out Kane: 5-1

Media

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    This is too easy. 

    We all know that when it comes to the media, John Tortorella is going to let loose sooner rather than later. His well-known battles with the press during his New York run were punctuated by his one-on-one tirades against columnist Larry Brooks of the New York Post.

    Tortorella's game is intimidation, and he probably thought he could make Brooks shake like a leaf, but he was wrong. 

    The guess here is that Ed Willes of the Vancouver Province has the best chance to be the object of Tortorella's first temper tantrum. 

    In this piece, Willes analyzes the Tortorella hiring with honesty and insight. He pulls no punches, and he is quite clear that the Tortorella hiring smacks of desperation.

    Tortorella is aware of the column. It will stick in his craw. He will fire back when he gets the opportunity.

     

    Odds that Tortorella assaults the media: 1-2