There are things hockey players never say.

“This Stanley Cup ring hurts my finger.”

“It’s nice up here in the press box with the reporters.”

“I hate all this free stuff.”

“Do these hockey pants make my butt look big?”

And of course: “Darn I wish the coach played me less.”

No one in the National Hockey League has ever complained about too much ice time.

“Never no” Vancouver Canuck captain Henrik Sedin agreed.

So when teammate Ryan Kesler was asked Tuesday about playing 26½ minutes the night before — in a pre-season opener after being injured for much of the previous two seasons — the centre made the workload sound no more onerous than waxing his abs.

“Honestly I don’t think I even played that much” Kesler said after being deployed on the ice for nearly half of the Canucks’ 3-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks on Monday night. “It felt like I was out there a lot in the first period. But other than that I never felt like I was getting overplayed.”

True enough. At the rate associate coach Mike Sullivan who ran the bench in the first game of the John Tortorella era in Vancouver reined back Kesler in the final two periods the 29-year-old would have logged a mere 25 minutes over a full game.

For context consider that Kesler’s 26:26 of ice time is the most he has played in a 60-minute game since amassing 26:32 during a 3-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Feb. 22 2011.

Kesler’s busiest non-overtime night last season was 19:42 nearly seven minutes less than he played Monday in his first game in four months.

Had the Canucks’ old coach Alain Vigneault left Kesler on the ice for 26½ minutes of a pre-season opener some reporters would have carried pitchforks and torches to the press conference the next morning.

But with Tortorella well hey that’s Torts for you. And it is. The new head coach has always leaned heavily on his best players.

“I’m not a big believer in: ‘Holy crap he played him 26 minutes. Does he have anything left for Wednesday?’ ” Tortorella explained claiming he was unaware of Kesler’s TOI. “I don’t buy it. I’m going to take each game at a time and if this certain person is one of our best players I’m going to get him on the ice.”

Maybe Tortorella’s strategy will work. Vigneault’s way didn’t work the last two playoffs although the Canucks with minutes carefully managed and roles spread throughout the lineup did manage to win more games than any NHL team the last five years.

But the way the new coach plans to run the team — is running the team — raises issues including how playing the bejesus out of the best and most important Canucks meshes with general manager Mike Gillis’ long-standing ideals about fatigue management and maximizing player health and performance.

Gillis has said Tortorella fully supports sports science including the “sleep doctor” that is among the GM’s core beliefs.

But beyond any conflicting ideologies between coach and manager there is a profound logistical difference between what Tortorella is accustomed to and where he finds himself now: in the Western Conference and one of the NHL’s most remote outposts.