Vancouver Canucks general manager Mike Gillis declined to comment on the future of coach John Tortorella, saying on Wednesday that the Canucks' struggles do not fall at the feet of just one person.
The Canucks have followed up a December record of 10-1-2 by sputtering through 2014, putting up a 6-17-3 mark in the calendar year.
“From top to bottom, our whole team has underperformed,” Gillis said in Boca Raton, Fla., where he's attending a meeting of the NHL's general managers. “It isn't because of a lack of effort, it isn't because of a lack of caring. It's just we've had a very tough year for a lot of different reasons, and we have a slight opportunity to try and right that ship, and we're going to try and do it by rallying behind them and rallying behind our coaching staff."
When asked if Tortorella’s job was safe for the rest of the season, Gillis declined to comment on reports that a coaching change could be under consideration.
“That's rumour and speculation,” Gillis said.” I'm not commenting on that because then it just lends credibility to what's out there… it's unfair to comment on any future plans other than what we've already said, which is we're trying to get younger, we're trying to retool and we're trying to do some things a little differently the next one, three, five years.”
After the Canucks gave up seven third-period goals in Monday night’s 7-4 loss to the Islanders, a defeat some players called “embarrassing,” Tortorella shouldered the blame for the team’s eighth loss in the past 10 games.
“John's an honest guy and he took responsibility, but it's all of our responsibility and I don't want to focus on John,” Gillis said. “We have a hockey team, we have an organization. To focus on one or two people in that organization is unfair. We have to win as a group, and every guy in that room has to win as a group. To single out anybody is unfair and I'm not going to do that.”
As for what he’d like to tell Canucks fans, Gillis said the message to them has not changed.
“We're doing everything we can to win hockey games, and we're doing everything we can to put the absolute best team on the ice,” he said. “This is a time of transition for our hockey club. We have to recognize it. We maintained last summer that we needed to start to think about how to become really competitive again, and we're in that process and we're going to carry it through.
“Our only objective is to win the Stanley Cup. We have to find ways to do it, and you go through cycles and this is a cycle that we're going through and we have to find ways to make change.”