When John Tortorella was brought in as the new head coach of the Vancouver Canucks this past summer, there was a significant divide among fans as to whether or not it was the right move. Some believed his lack of tolerance with the media in a hockey-crazed city like Vancouver was a disaster waiting to happen. Others thought his tough style was exactly what an underperforming Vancouver team needed.
Now with 16 games in the books, we're able to judge based on performance rather than speculation.
Although the Canucks currently sit fourth in the Pacific, they have an impressive 10-5-1 record and have proven a lot early in the season. Even more impressive was the team's 5-1-1 record on a grueling seven-game road trip and their 6-2-1 overall road record.
There's no doubt that the strong start can be attributed to strong goaltending, usual Sedin' dominance and some offense from unexpected sources (Mike Santorelli, Brad Richardson). But whether Tortorella has something to do with that is unknown.
What we do know, thus far, is that a coach with a bad reputation for losing his temper, both during the game and after, has kept himself in check. He said he would try to change, and he has lived up to that.
After Daniel & Henrik Sedin re-signed matching four-year, $28 million contracts last week, Torts stepped up to defend the Sedins and the reputation they've had (Toronto Sun). After publicly damaging the relationship with New York Rangers' star Brad Richards last year, this is once again a showing of his commitment to change.
If Tortorella and the Canucks continue along the path we've witnessed early this season, we may be pleasantly surprised with the result. But as we've learned in the past with characters like Tortorella, things can take a wrong turn in the blink of an eye.
Only time will tell.
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