Farhan Lalji of TSN reported late Wednesday night that the team would be parting ways with the veteran head coach:
BREAKING - John Tortorella will be fired by #canucks tomorrow— Farhan Lalji (@FarhanLaljiTSN) May 1, 2014
Metro's Cam Tucker saw the writing on the wall when team president Trevor Linden failed to offer much of a defense for his beleaguered head coach:
Linden earlier today about Tortorella: "Working through that process..." He didn't actually say ANYTHING so, may have been big indicator.— Cam Tucker (@CamTucker_Metro) May 1, 2014
The Canucks confirmed the news Thursday via a release:
Linden spoke about the direction of the franchise going into the offseason:
We have a lot of important work to accomplish this off-season as we build our management and coaching staff, improve our roster and connect with our fans. Our General Manager search is well underway and we will begin assessing head coaching candidates immediately.
The Canucks provide more from Linden:
“This was a tough decision. A difficult one. A fresh start is needed.” - Linden— Vancouver Canucks (@VanCanucks) May 1, 2014
“I had multiple conversations with John. I felt we needed a new direction.” - Linden— Vancouver Canucks (@VanCanucks) May 1, 2014
Canucks Misconduct reveals Linden's disappointment with how the situation transpired:
“Everyone’s disappointed with the results…it was just the right thing to do moving forward."— Canucks Misconduct (@nucksmisconduct) May 1, 2014
David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period sheds light on Linden's plans for the next coach of the team:
Linden on next coach: Career coach, experienced in many levels, a teacher, able to communicate well with players,— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) May 1, 2014
Tortorella spent only a year with Vancouver, leading the Canucks to a 36-35-11 record. Their 83 points were the third fewest in the Western Conference. It was the first time the franchise failed to make the postseason since the 2007-08 season.
Back on April 4, then-general manager Mike Gillis refused to throw his head coach under the bus, per TEAM 1040 in Vancouver (via Karen Thomson):
John is a proven winner and competitor. The running of this team is my responsibility and I feel that the last few seasons we have been chasing goal posts that have been moving and got away from our core principles of how I want this team to play and how we want to perform and the tempo we want to play with.
People want someone to blame but the reality is that as an organization we have deviated from things that have been successful and I know will be successful. We will get back to those levels and that style of play that we started six years ago and we have the personnel to do it.
Head coaches are almost always the first to get the blame, though, and it's much easier to get rid of them than it is to reshuffle the roster. Tortorella's well-known abrasive personality does him no favors either in terms of building political capital.
There's no doubt the Canucks have been headed for disaster for a few years now, as evidenced by their back-to-back exits in the first round of the playoffs in 2012 and 2013. Tortorella just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Now Vancouver has to hire both a new head coach and general manager this offseason. It's a great opportunity for the organization to hit the reset button and implement the systemic changes that will make it a contender once again.
At 55 years old, Tortorella may have had his last head coaching gig. Teams may be a bit wary in taking a chance on him from here on out given his failure with the Canucks. If this is indeed the end for him, the NHL is losing one of its best characters.