FanPost

Looking Forward to October

With the firing of Alain Vigneault and his subsequent replacement, for the first time in years fans are unsure of the future. I would also bet that the Canucks players are very uncertain. Just for kicks, let's look at the current group that Mike Gillis has assembled.

Sedin - Sedin - Burrows/Kassian/Other?

Higgins/Booth- Kesler-Burrows/Kassian?

Higgins/Booth - Schroeder/Richardson/Other? - Hansen

???? - Richardson??? - ????

Sestito/???

Hamhuis - Bieksa

Edler - Garrison?

Corrado - Tanev

Weber/Sauve???

As you can see, there are a lot of question marks on this roster. Due to John Tortorella, we have no clue who is going to end up where. We don't know how many rookies are going to make the team. Could Nicklas Jensen, Brendan Gaunce, or even Bo Horvat beat out any of the regulars? Will Brad Richardson become the third line center ahead of Schroeder? Will Schroeder even make the team? For the first time in a while, this roster really is in flux. We haven't seen a lot of Canucks rookies make the big team since Cody Hodgson finally made it in for a half season, because rookies were either not good enough or the team was one of the deepest in the NHL (as was the case in 2010.)

A lot of people have claimed that John Tortorella is going to run this team like he ran the Rangers. The narrative, of course, is that he was a super defensive coach who put his best players in the doghouse constantly - Marian Gaborik ring a bell? I question this, however. In New York, he was stuck for most of his tenure with no real superstars. When Marian Gaborik came in, he was the only superstar on the team until Brad Richards was signed for an obscene amount. Last season, Rick Nash had the Rags up to three - but Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards slumped the whole season and it didn't really work out - leading Slats to basically trade his 2010-11 core for the Jackets core. For a while, Torts' best player was Ryan Callahan, a grinder who is good enough to be on the second line on most teams. When your best player is your goalie and you're stuck fighting for every goal, of course you're going to run a defensive style. However, he did encourage some initiative from his players. For a very good breakdown of Torts' systems, I have a link below that explains it beyond the "TORTORELLA IS ULTRA DEFENSIVE" narrative.

Tortorella's System in New York

It is clear however, that the Canucks have far more talent than the Rangers have had over the past few seasons. Dan Hamhuis is arguably a better defenseman than anyone on the Rangers - although they boast solid defensive depth and have some defensemen who are close, such as Marc Staal when he's not concussed out of his mind, and Ryan McDonagh. Henrik and Daniel are far better than Rick Nash or Brad Richards, even though they are supposedly declining - which I dispute. Ryan Kesler is a better player when healthy than anyone on the Rags second line, and Chris Higgins and David Booth are both very solid players when they're on their game. Alex Edler is a better offensive d-man than anything that Torts has had to work with since Dan Boyle on Tampa.

Ultimately, I think John Tortorella is going to run the Canucks very similar to how he ran the Rangers - but he will get better results because his players are, put simply, better. What I'm not sure of is John Tortorella's penchant for benching players. He did this on the Rangers because he couldn't afford for anyone to take a night off - if his best players weren't his best players, they weren't winning. The Canucks have better offensive depth and I don't think he is going to have to bench his best players. For one, the Sedins are quite clearly the best players on the ice night in and night out. Ryan Kesler is always bringing it - when healthy. I doubt that he will have too many problems getting this team back to winning.

I also think that he will bring in a lot of younger players this time around. He never had trouble bringing up young players in New York, and I don't think that will change. In fact, he has been willing to rely on younger players in important positions if they are defensively responsible and work hard every night - think Ryan McDonagh. So I expect Brendan Gaunce to compete for the third/fourth line center spot this season, and I wouldn't be surprised if he was able to beat out Brad Richardson and snag the third line spot as long as he works hard and shows that he is better. I think that this team has a lot of Tortorella's favorite type of player - hard workers. If David Booth stays healthy, I wouldn't be surprised if he can make the second line, and I wouldn't be surprised if Jannik Hansen gets some powerplay time either.

Ultimately, there are a lot of questions surrounding this upcoming season. I am optimistic, but I also caution fans - John Tortorella reminds me a lot of Mike Keenan. Part of me feels like this is 1996 all over again and I hope that John Tortorella doesn't destroy this Canucks core like Keenan did. Both coaches had reputations of being hard nosed, d-bags. Both coaches also coached the Rags. Let's hope that this doesn't happen. Ultimately, beware of the narratives surrounding John Tortorella. For an 'ultra-defensive' coach, he had a lot of high scorers on some of his former teams.

2003-04 Tampa Bay Lightning

Ultimately, I think John Tortorella is a better coach than Alain Vigneault. He is often able to make smart line changes on the fly that have been successful - something that AV struggled with at times, and did at inopportune times. The jury is still out, but I liked this from the start.

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This is my first fanpost on this site. I hope you guys enjoyed it.

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