If the Rangers and Canucks had known each other’s plans earlier, they could have just orchestrated a direct trade.
On Friday, while the Blueshirts introduced ex-Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault as their next head coach, former Rangers coach John Tortorella received an offer to coach the Canucks, according to the Winnipeg Free Press, and the two sides reportedly were close to a deal.
The Canucks fired Vigneault after seven seasons on May 22. One week later, the Rangers canned Tortorella after three-plus seasons behind their bench.
“I would like to thank John Tortorella,” Rangers GM Glen Sather said at Radio City. “We had a great time for four years. I expect we’re going to have a better time for the next five years.”
Sather reasoned that the Rangers’ defensive style under Tortorella was effective for a time but then wore on his players. He expressed excitement over Vigneault’s track record over embracing a more open approach on offense, where it was suggested Tortorella had been “stubborn.”
Corey Sipkin/New York Daily News
As the Canucks eye Tortorella, the Rangers introduce the guy Vancouver recently fired.
“Well, I’d say maybe beyond stubborn,” Sather said with a grin. “But I like that part of Torts. I like a lot of things about him. What happened here, he was perfect for us for a few years, and he’s gonna be perfect wherever he goes. I just felt that it was getting to be so hard on some of our players.”
Both Vigneault (2007) and Tortorella (2004) have won a Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s top coach. Tortorella is ahead, 1-0, in Stanley Cups, due to his championship 2004 season with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
In Vancouver, Tortorella would inherit two of the top offensive talents in the NHL, twin brothers Henrik and Daniel Sedin, and at minimum he would be expected to replicate Vigneault’s level of success that included six Northwest Division titles in seven seasons, two Presidents’ Trophies and a near-2011 Stanley Cup title.
The media scrutiny also would increase, if that seems possible, because the Canucks are covered in Vancouver like the Yankees are in New York: every detail is dissected, and even the seemingly smallest stories can blossom into back page material.
Vigneault sounded comfortable in his transition to New York. Meanwhile, Tortorella’s acclimation in Vancouver would be closely chronicled by the Canadian media if he is signed as coach.
“I know that at some point in time you’re gonna write things or say things about me that might not be as positive as they can be, but I respect that,” Vigneault said. “Everybody’s entitled to their own opinion, and you could ask the people that I worked with media-wise in Vancouver, and I respected that part.”