The Vancouver Canucks are a mess.
They’re 5-17-3 since Jan. 1 and have lost five of their last six games by a combined score of 20-6, including a 7-4 loss to the New York Islanders on Monday night in which Vancouver gave up seven third-period goals.
Those struggles have put head coach John Tortorella, who’s in the first year of his Canucks contract, on the hot seat. Canucks general manager Mike Gillis was asked about Tortorella’s future when speaking to reporters Wednesday at the NHL GM meetings in Boca Raton, Fla., and refused to give a vote of confidence to his bench boss.
“I’m not commenting on that because then it just lends credibility to what’s out there with bloggers and all kinds of different people,” Gillis said. “So it’s unfair to comment on any future plans other than what we’ve already said, which is we’re trying to get younger, we’re trying to retool and we’re trying to do some things a little differently the next one, three, five years.”
Entering Wednesday’s slate of games, Vancouver was six points behind the Dallas Stars for the second and final wild-card playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Tortorella is a fiery coach, and it was difficult to predict if his coaching style would be a good fit on a Canucks team that lacks the truculence and defensive skills needed to thrive in his system.
The 55-year-old coach also was involved in an incident two months ago when he confronted the Calgary Flames outside their locker room after a line brawl between the two teams Jan. 18 at Rogers Arena. Gillis described Tortorella’s actions that night as “hard to describe” on Wednesday.
With the Canucks likely headed for a rebuild, it will be interesting to see if Tortorella remains behind the bench after this season. He’s not a coach suited for a team that’s miles away from contending for a Stanley Cup.