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Tortorella takes blame for Vancouver’s woes

John Tortorella, in his first season as coach, accepts blame for the Vancouver Canucks’ struggles.

The Canucks, who are 34-32-11 and have five regular-season games remaining, are not expected to make the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

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In a story by The Canadian Press, the maligned Tortorella said he took “full responsibility” for a change in the team’s style of play that hasn’t worked.

“We were playing a style of game that we wanted to play the first couple of months, those first 35, 40 games,” Tortorella said after practice Friday. “It’s a style that we continue to teach right now.

“When we went to California and went through that twice in two weeks, got banged up a little bit, we did have to change a bit. We lost some guys. My mistake is not shaking us back to aggressiveness quick enough.”

On Thursday, Canucks general manager Mike Gillis went on a radio station and called for the team to play a more possession-oriented, up-tempo style. Gillis vowed anyone who did not want to play such a style would be gone, but admitted his own future is in doubt.

According to The Canadian Press, “Many observers viewed the comments as an effort by Gillis to distance himself from Tortorella as the Aquilini family, which owns the team, contemplates offseason changes.”

Alain Vigneault, fired by the Canucks last year, is coaching the New York Rangers (43-30-5) and has them in second place in the Metropolitan Division.

Tortorella coached the Rangers to a 26-18-4 record last season, which was shortened by a lockout, and was let go after the team was eliminated from the East semifinals.

College sports

Union official: Players have made contact

Players from other universities have expressed interest in forming unions in the wake of the landmark decision last week involving the Northwestern football team, a union organizer said.

Tim Waters of the United Steelworkers would not disclose the players or their schools, saying it was too early to reveal who they are. But he said they reached out after the decision last week by a regional director of the National Labor Relations Board declaring Northwestern’s football players have the right to form a union.

“We’re not giving out who it is or who they are, but the answer is yes,” said Waters. “There’s a lot of excitement out there.

“We’ve been contacted by a number of players.”

Northwestern players will vote April 25 on whether to become the first college athletes represented by a union. But it could be years, if ever, before college athletes are given a seat at the bargaining table to discuss issues such as practice hours and medical care.


Ibrahimovic suffers torn thigh muscle

Forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic is expected to be sidelined for at least several weeks because of a thigh-muscle tear and will miss the second leg of Paris Saint-Germain’s UEFA Champions League quarterfinal against Chelsea on Tuesday in London.

Ibrahimovic, who has scored 40 goals in 42 matches this season, likely would miss the Champions League semifinals if PSG advances. The French team won the first leg of the total-goals, home-and-home series 3-1 and could reach the semifinal round for the first time since 1995.

Impact of MLS acquires All-Star McInerney

The Philadelphia Union sent Major League Soccer All-Star Jack McInerney to the Montreal Impact for Andrew Wenger in a swap of forwards.

McInerney, 21, led the Union in scoring with 12 goals in 31 league matches last season and has one goal in four games this year.

Former Duke standout Wenger, 23, was the first player drafted in 2012.


• Second-seeded Jelena Jankovic of Serbia and No. 3 Sara Errani of Italy lost quarterfinal matches at the Family Circle Cup tennis tournament in Charleston, S.C.

No. 6 Eugenie Bouchard of Canada beat Jankovic 6-3, 4-6, 6-3. Belinda Bencic, a 17-year-old qualifier from Switzerland, defeated Errani 4-6, 6-2, 6-1.

Peter Gojowczyk and Tobias Kamke won in singles to give Germany a 2-0 lead over host France in a best-of-five Davis Cup tennis quarterfinal.

• Canadian Dick Pound, 73, has been appointed chairman of the board of Olympic Broadcasting Services, which serves as the host broadcaster for all Olympics.

• A federal query into whether Florida State adequately investigated whether Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston sexually assaulted another student in 2012 could result in the school losing federal funding, but history suggests a settlement will be reached instead, officials said.

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