John Tortorella fired by Canucks
Missed playoffs in lone season behind Vancouver bench
John Tortorella was let go Thursday after only one season as head coach of the Vancouver Canucks.
Assistant Mike Sullivan was also fired, the team said in a media release.
The moves come as new president of hockey operations Trevor Linden seeks to put his stamp on the Canucks.
A former star player with Vancouver, Linden was hired last month, a day after former president and general manager Mike Gillis was shown the door.
The GM vacancy has yet to be filled.
"This was a tough decision," Linden told a news conference. "I have a great deal of respect for John and Mike, and what they've accomplished in their coaching careers."
"The more I looked at the situation I felt a change was necessary and a fresh start was needed obviously with the direction we're going with a new manager," he said.
Tortorella joined the Canucks last off-season, just weeks after being let go by the Rangers. New York hired Alain Vigneault, Tortorella's predecessor as the Canucks' head coach.
The Canucks got off to a promising start under Tortorella but won just 11 of their last 41 games, finishing at 36-35-11 and missing the playoffs. Vancouver's 25th-overall finish was its worst in 14 years.
Winningest American coach
Tortorella didn't help his cause by incurring a 15-day suspension after a testy game in January between the Canucks and Calgary Flames.
With the Canucks clearly headed to a finish outside of the playoffs, both Gillis and Tortorella took their turns presenting their view of the season last week to local media, as well as their thoughts on the team's style of play.
The coach said the Canucks are a team in transition.
"It needs youth. It needs a change. The team needs to be retooled. It's a young man's game," Tortorella said.
The decision by Gillis to hire the abrasive Tortorella, whose previous teams played a style not consistent with the brand the Canucks have played in recent years, raised eyebrows last summer.
Now both men are gone, and Linden promises that there will be more moves on the way for the Canucks.
"This is a fresh start for our team and you'll see us make some other changes this summer," he wrote in a letter to season ticket holders. "It starts with how we shape our management and coaching staffs and the roster improvements we're able to make. Our goal is to be back in the playoffs next spring as we continue developing this group into a team that can challenge for the Stanley Cup. "
In his NHL coaching career, Tortorella has posted 446 wins in 936 regular-season games, more wins than any American-born coach in history.
In 2004, he won the Stanley Cup with Tampa Bay and was the Jack Adams Award winner as coach of the year.
He spent several seasons as an assistant prior to the Lightning job.
With files from The Canadian Press