VANCOUVER – Head Coach John Tortorella and Assistant Coach Mike Sullivan have been fired from the Vancouver Canucks coaching staff after only one year on the job.
Vancouver Canucks President of Hockey Operations Trevor Linden held a press conference Thursday to speak about the changes.
He said the changes were tough and difficult decisions, but necessary to create a new vision for the team.
“The ultimate goal is to win the Stanley Cup playoffs,” says Linden. “I understand fans are discontent, and I don’t blame them — it’s up to the team to change that and bring fans back.”
Linden says the firing of Tortorella was done over the phone, as John was back east at the time. He says he met with Tortorella for two days before making up his mind about letting him go. Linden says he approached the meetings from a “neutral place” and didn’t go into them with his mind already made up.
This season the Canucks finished 25th in the NHL, behind Toronto, Winnipeg, Ottawa and Montreal. It was Vancouver’s worst finish in 14 years.
Although he was signed to a five-year, $10 million contract, Tortorella will be paid out the rest of his contract, but the amount has not been disclosed at this time.
In January, Tortorella was suspended for 15 days after attempting an altercation with the Calgary Flames outside their locker room during the first intermission of a brawl filled game. He missed six games.
Linden was named as president of the Vancouver Canucks in early April, but remained tight-lipped about whether Tortorella would stay on as head coach. “Any coaching decision will be made in due time after a thorough evaluation,” was all he would say.
One day before, Mike Gillis was fired from the organization, collecting $8 million for the remainder of his contract.
Tortorella said he felt responsible for what happened to Gillis. “I feel responsible for Mike,” he said. “Mike’s a friend of mine. I worry about him and I worry about his family.”
Sullivan joined the Canucks coaching staff in July 2013, and began coaching in 2002. He played hockey for the San Jose Sharks and the Boston Bruins, among other teams. He was named as interim head coach when Tortorella was suspended in January.
© Shaw Media, 2014