John Tortorella had an aisle seat on his latest flight to Vancouver. The Canucks coach strained to catch views of the city because he needed to know if those amazing post-card images were accurate. Kind of like the roster he has inherited. Not bad on paper but on the ice? With a push to promote youth in a salary-cap challenged environment and a pledge to push a veteran core the new bench boss doesn’t need to get a feel for Roberto Luongo Ryan Kesler and Henrik and Daniel Sedin. They come as advertised. Luongo has changed agents — from Gilles Lupien to J.P. Barry and Pat Brisson at CCA Sports — and Brisson confirmed Thursday that his new client will honour his contract and report to camp. Tortorella has a short New York Rangers history with Chris Higgins and Dale Weise but has no idea what to expect from Zack Kassian Brendan Gaunce Brad Richardson or Frank Corrado. And when Cody Hodgson trade questions repeatedly surfaced for general manager Mike Gillis on Tuesday during the annual summer summit with season-ticket holders it gave Tortorella a sense of the angst among the local hockey populace. “If we get the consistency out of Zack you might change your opinion of that trade” Gillis told the Rogers Arena faithful. Fair enough. But that falls on Tortorella and assistants Mike Sullivan and Glen Gulutzan to get Kassian to that level where his game isn’t one-dimensional and his mind doesn’t wander. He had five goals in his first seven games last season on the first line and wound up with just seven goals in 39 games. A wide-eyed fun-loving free spirit Kassian is like that impressionable kid brother that could use a mentor. Blessed with size good speed and great passing ability the 22-year-old winger has all the tools. But does he have the tool box?
Canucks: Steep learning curve as new coach gets to know his players
Vancouver Province | Jul 25