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Live from Vancouver: AV and Torts, a tale of two coaches

John Tortorella reacts to a penalty call against

John Tortorella reacts to a penalty call against his team in the second period of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Ottawa Senators at Madison Square Garden. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Call it a tale of two coaches…

In Vancouver, Alain Vigneault confessed Thursday is that he is having trouble navigating the streets of New York and its suburbs, promising to reveal a “Lincoln Tunnel story” at another time.

He did find his way to the visiting team’s room and the podium in Rogers Arena without any trouble.

But it was an odd feeling.

“Strange  could be a word I could use right now,” Vigneault said after the Rangers skated. “I came in here this morning, said “Hi” to the staff that worked with me for a long time; it was a little special…I’ve been able to talk to almost everyone I worked with and thank them for all they had done. But you have to turn the page and move on. Maybe getting this out of the way right now in an exhibition was a good thing for me.”

Vigneault downplayed what should be a warm reaction from the fans tonight, but said: “Fans don’t come to see coaches, they come to see players. I don’t expect anyone to come tonight to see me. They’re coming to see great players on two teams that are trying to get ready for the regular season.”

His replacement behind the Canucks bench after seven years is none other than John Tortorella, of course, who said: “Alain did a helluva job here. This was a very successful team. There were a lot of good things when I came here. I think there’s a number of things we’re doing that Alain did…We both change teams: He’s going to do something different there and I have my philosophies in certain situations and I’ll try and teach that.” 

As for New York, Tortorella said: “I loved working there, did I want to leave? No. Now I’m knee-deep in it here.  I’m not going to go back to what happened. I wish them the best. I think in this situation here, it’s an older team…I have had to make adjustments, respecting where they are in their careers…when you lose your job, you reassess what went wrong and what went right, you always try to be a better coach and work on some of your weaknesses.”

“I don’t think changing the culture of a team happens overnight…I don’t want to put any negative on Alain what he’s done with the team. I do think our team needs to continue creating offense, and I’ve said right from the get-go need to be a harder team in certain areas. As much as you think offense needs to be pretty, it doesn’t happen in our league.”

Tortorella, who with his family lives south of the city, (“in the country,” he said) on a peninsula in Washington State, an hour’s drive away, is wary of team travel, however.

“The travel is insane,” he said. “For me, I’m very fortunate to have Glen Gulutzan (the former Stars coach), just to understand the personnel and style of play in the West, we don’t get out here and because when you’re in the season, you’re living under a rock in the East, just worrying about those teams.”

But you don’t teach an old dog new tricks. After a quick update on injuries, which he was reluctant to do in New York, Tortorella warned: “This is preseason”


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