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John Tortorella Presser / Open Thread

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The road to 2014 starts today with the new bench boss.

Update: 1:00:

Here is Tortorella and Gillis answering questions from John Shorthouse and fans:

11:00 AM PT Update: First words from the man himself:

"My job as a head coach of a hockey team is to push athletes to be the best they can be, to push them to areas where they don’t think they can get, that’s my job and I’m going to do that," said Tortorella, matter-of-factly. "But let’s be honest, there’s a perception about me and some of the perception is put in an area where that’s all people think I am. I need to prove myself to the players that I’m not just that person and I think that’s going to be a relationship that grows. I want them to understand that I care, I care a lot about winning and losing, but I also care about the people and it’s my job to push people, but I also think it needs to be done in a respectable way and I don’t think a lot of people think it’s done that way, but really they don’t know what goes on in behind here.

"Right now I’m trying to figure out who the Vancouver Canucks are," admitted Torts, who studied team video throughout the interview process. "I know they’ve been successful, but they’ve got to that point and it’s just that next step they need to take. What’s needed there? I’m a big believer in ‘what is your identity’ and creating an identity, that’s what we’re going to look to. I think there’s some sort of identity there, but when a new coaching staff comes in, you have to put your stamp on that too."

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It's fitting that our current homepage has recaps of both goalies along with a Stanley Cup open thread since it gives the new coach an idea of the most immediate problem and the ultimate goal.

John Tortorella is expected to be announced as the 17th coach in Canucks history this afternoon and most fans (at least around here and on social media) have come around to Mr "Safe is Death" as being the ideal person in the driver's seat for a team that has lost its footing as an elite squad.

Of course all the questions that will be begged by Torts behind the bench are coming in fast and furious:

Would he increase the ice time of Henrik and Daniel Sedin, get Jason Garrison on the first-unit power play unit to improve a 22nd ranking and also be willing to go up-tempo to prop up a 19th-rate offence? And where does restricted free agent Weise fit into the bottom-six mix? He gave Tortorella mixed reviews, lauding him for an unrelenting drive, but wondering if that message works in today’s game.

"I think nowadays, you’ve got to be a little more of a communicator," Weise told The Province two weeks ago. "You just can’t put guys in the dirt and expect guys to get out of there themselves. He did a good job in New York. I don’t know how he’d be in Vancouver, so I guess we’ll wait and see."

Exactly.

One thing's for certain: for this gamble (if you still choose to call it that) behind the bench is going to pay off, Torts will have to whip the Canucks into a form that can handle 82 games in a tough division and be able to stay competitive against the likes of the current Cup holders.

Impossible? Not at all. But the climb up that hill starts today.

Welcome to your summer.