VANCOUVER, B.C. – The Vancouver Canucks gave John Tortorella a five-year contract to be their new coach Tuesday.
Tortorella was recently fired by the New York Rangers after they lost to the Boston Bruins in the second round of the NHL playoffs in five games.
The 55-year-old Tortorella replaces former Canucks coach Alain Vigneault, who took over for him as the Rangers’ coach last week.
Tortorella guided the Tampa Bay Lightning to the 2004 Stanley Cup. He had a 171-118-30 record with the Rangers.
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At a news conference, the Boston native said he has longed to coach a team in Canada.
“To be involved with this, I couldn’t be more excited,” Tortorella said. “It’s always something I thought about and wanted the opportunity.”
Tortorella led New York to the playoffs three times in the past five seasons.
Canucks general manager Mike Gillis was quoted by The Vancouver Sun as saying, “What impressed me the most was his attitude about coaching a team, how to bring it together, how to prepare it for the playoffs and how to prepare for specific opponents.
“I was really impressed with the level of details.”
Tortorella has led teams to the playoffs eight times and won the Jack Adams Award as the league’s coach of the year in 2004. Known for his fiery and often abrasive style with players and media, he was let go four days after the Rangers’ season ended against the Eastern Conference champion Bruins.
Of dealing with media, Tortorella said, “I know how important that part of the job is here. When you lose your job, you crawl into a hole a little bit, you reassess yourself, you try to learn and I have certainly gone through that process.
“Have I made mistakes? Absolutely. I make my own bed in this type of situation with the perception of myself in the media. But I know how important it is with this job here, especially in this city and this province.”
Tortorella said he won’t change his stance on player accountability, and said everyone — including scoring stars Henrik and Daniel Sedin, who are twins — will have a lot asked of them. That means killing penalties and blocking shots.
“We have a really good leadership group … but we have not won the Stanley Cup,” he said. “There’s going to be more asked of (the players), and that starts from the twins right on down.”
Vigneault was let go after the Canucks were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs for the second straight year. He guided the Canucks to a berth in the Stanley Cup Final in 2011, when they lost to Boston in seven games.