Vancouver Canucks hire former Ranger coach John Tortorella as head coach

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)

John Tortorella, who was introduced Tuesday as Vancouver's head coach, said both he and new Rangers coach Alain Vigneault -- formerly of the Canucks -- "have talked for two weeks, every other day, asking each other questions. He's a heckuva coach. But it is a bit bizarre."

Like Vigneault, who was introduced last Friday at Radio City Music Hall, Tortorella was given a five-year contract. Vigneault said that he was friends with Tortorella and respected him as a coach. "I needed to do my homework," Tortorella said of his conversations.

In his first public remarks, Tortorella, who coached in New York for four years, covered some of the same strategic themes and could not promise that he wouldn't be as volatile.

Asked why he has publicly lost some of his patience in the past, he said: "Because I hate losing. Everyone says be a good loser. If you're a good loser, you're a loser . . . It's not always yelling and screaming. There's going to be honesty, but I'll be fair."

Tortorella, 55, has not met the Canucks players yet, but has watched game video and read about the current roster. "I think we need more bite," he said, a phrase that he often used last season. As for having stars and finesse players, such as the Sedin twins, Henrik and Daniel, play tougher defensively, he said: "They're going to kill penalties. And if they're going to kill penalties, they're going to block shots."

In an earlier online Q and A with Canucks fans, Tortorella only briefly mentioned his often tumultuous stay in New York, noting that developing youngsters is a "must" and mentioned Derek Stepan and Carl Hagelin. As for his dealings with the media, he said: "I have made my own bed . . . I come with some baggage. I'm going to cultivate relationships. I want this to work."

Tortorella called it an "honor" to work in Vancouver, and noted that "when you get fired, you crawl into a hole; you reassess. But coaches will coach. I didn't know where that was going to be. But I love competing."

Rangers president and general manager Glen Sather, who fired Tortorella on May 29 after the Rangers were eliminated from the playoffs by the Bruins, said all coaches had a shelf life, and that the team needed a fresh approach, a new voice and a change in its defense-first style.

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