Can John Tortorella make the Canucks a contender again? | Hockey | CBC Sports

Hockey Night in CanadaCan John Tortorella make the Canucks a contender again?

Posted: Sunday, September 29, 2013 | 11:57 AM

Back to accessibility links
Vancouver Canucks head coach John Tortorella, centre, during a pre-season game against his former team the New York Rangers in Vancouver on Sept 26, 2013. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press) Vancouver Canucks head coach John Tortorella, centre, during a pre-season game against his former team the New York Rangers in Vancouver on Sept 26, 2013. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

Beginning of Story Content

CBC Sports is previewing each of the seven Canadian teams leading up to opening night of the 2013-14 NHL season. Here, the Vancouver Canucks step into the spotlight.

CBC Sports is previewing each of the seven Canadian teams leading up to opening night of the 2013-14 NHL season. Here, the Vancouver Canucks step into the spotlight.

The skinny

The Canucks will be an intriguing soap opera situation to watch this season with new coach John Tortorella and goalie Roberto Luongo staying in town ... Luongo thought he would have a new address this season, but then was shocked when general manager Mike Gillis traded Cory Schneider to New Jersey at the draft last June ... So far the cranky Tortorella has been on his best behaviour with his players and reporters, but how long will this act last? ... The Canucks have an excellent defensive unit with Dan Hamhuis, Kevin Bieksa, Jason Garrison, Alex Edler and Chris Tanev, but Edler needs to bounce back from a middling lockout-shortened season ... The health of second-liner David Booth still remains a question mark, although he did get into some game action this week ... With an abundance of training camp injuries, teenager Hunter Shinkaruk still is with the club. Bo Horvat was returned to the London Knights on Sunday ... Canucks improved their organizational depth when they acquired right wing Zac Dalpe and centre Jeremy Welsh from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for Kellan Tochkin and the fourth round pick late Saturday.

Three questions for assistant general manager Laurence Gilman

  • All eyes were on Roberto Luongo entering training camp. What makes you comfortable that he is ready to get down to business and provide the type of goaltending he has in the past for the Canucks?

"Roberto's a consummate professional and has an incredible work ethic. He's well respected in the room and his desire for excellence continues to inspire his teammates and our new coaching staff."

  • What is the biggest difference you have witnessed with the change in coaching from Alain Vigneault to John Tortorella?

"Alain did a lot of great things for this organization. John brings a fiery passion that we think will translate well onto the ice. Historically, John's teams have been relentless on the forecheck and we've seen evidence of that through the pre-season. He's also a gifted communicator and has clearly defined roles and expectations for our team early on."

  • Among all the young talent in the organization, which young player or players made a leap up the depth chart in training camp?

"Our organization is focused on developing young prospects right now. Every team has to have youth coming up; it's a product of the cap era. We're going to do everything we can to put our prospects in a position to succeed. We have a number of young players that have impressed us throughout the pre-season, including our 2013 picks Bo Horvat and Hunter Shinkaruk. We feel we have a number of prospects in our depth chart who will be key contributors for this team this season and in the coming seasons."

Player on the hot seat

Ryan Kesler. The veteran centre, who kills penalties and sees time on the power play, has been hindered by injuries the last couple seasons. If he can stay healthy and return to the form he exhibited in his Selke Trophy-winning season of 2010-11, the Canucks will be one of the league's elite teams again. 

Training camp development

Zack Kassian received an eight-game suspension (three regular season, five preseason games) for breaking the jaw of Edmonton Oilers forward Sam Gagner with a high stick. Tortorella wants to give the 22-year-old right wing a shot at playing with the Sedins this season.

"I'm trying him there," Tortorella said. "I can see he has some skill, see he has some size. He can skate well. There is willingness in his game. There are a lot of things there. But it's a matter of consistency. It's a matter of practice habits. It's a matter of conditioning. It's all those things, the little things that he has to take care of."

Key stat

1 - Playoff game victory since their Game 7 loss to the Boston Bruins in the 2011 Stanley Cup final. The Canucks were eliminated in five games during the first round by the Los Angeles Kings in 2012 and swept by the San Jose Sharks in the opening round last spring.

End of Story Content

Back to accessibility links

Story Social Media

End of Story Social Media

Starting soon: To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, for all new accounts, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted for existing community members in June.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Submission Policy

Note: The CBC does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that CBC has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Please note that comments are moderated and published according to our submission guidelines.