SAN JOSE – After getting swept out of the playoffs in 2012 by your San Jose Sharks, the Vancouver Canucks fired head coach Alain Vigneault and replaced him with John Tortorella, who himself was fired from the New York Rangers at the end of the season.
Tortorella is known as much for his “exchanges” with the media and his fiery demeanor behind the bench and in the locker room as he is for his coaching accomplishments. That's despite winning a Stanley Cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004, a team that included current Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle.
Boyle and the rest of the Sharks will get to see much more of Tortorella now that the coach has relocated to the newly realigned Pacific Division. Tortorella will get his first taste of the Sharks-Canucks rivalry on Thursday night in his first regular season game behind Vancouver’s bench.
As for Boyle, he gave a very blunt assessment of what the Canucks players are probably going through as they adapt to their new coach.
“He’s definitely going to light a fire under certain people’s [rear ends]. That’s for sure,” Boyle said. “I’ve always said you need thick skin to play for him. The guys that don’t have it are probably going to fall apart, but if you have thick skin, there’s definitely some good things that are going to come out of that. Depending on what type of player you are, guys are going to react differently to his coaching methods.”
Boyle continued: “He wants to win. He definitely has a different approach than most coaches. It’s well documented; it’s in your face and pretty loud. It’s definitely tough at times, but there’s no question he wants to win. That’s pretty obvious.”
Incidentally, Sharks head coach Todd McLellan considers himself a friend of Tortorella, whom he got to know at the 2012 NHL All-Star Game in Ottawa when they served as co-coaches for “Team Alfredsson.”