John Tortorella and Canucks a strange pair

John Tortorella. (Reuters)

John Tortorella. (Reuters)

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:23 AM ET

When John Tortorella arrived at Vancouver International Airport on Friday afternoon, he quickly slipped through a side door before he could be cornered by the waiting media.

And so it begins.

We can almost see it now.

The bombastic Tortorella, reportedly on the verge of becoming the new head coach of the soap opera known as the Vancouver Canucks, stepping to the podium for his introductory press conference.

“John, what’s your take on the Cory Schneider-Roberto Luongo mess?”

Torts: “Next question.”

“John, can you tell the difference between the Sedin twins when they aren’t wearing jerseys with their numbers and names on the back?”

Torts: “Maybe.”

“Coach, are we going to see a more mellow John Tortorella, one who will be more engaging with reporters?”

Torts: “Are we done here?”

Let the circus begin.

On the day the New York Rangers introduced former Canucks bench boss Alain Vigneault as their new head coach, all signs indicate ex-Rangers coach Tortorella is about to take over the Canucks.

Interesting trade.

AV for Torts?

Most observers would say the Rangers have come out ahead in this one, although only time will tell.

If Tortorella thought being in the public eye in The Big Apple was uncomfortable, “he ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”

No matter how bright the spotlight was in New York, he could still walk down Park Ave. without instantly being recognized by the majority of pedestrians. Even when the Rangers are a big story, they still trail the Jets, Giants, Yankees, Mets and Knicks on the Gotham sporting radar.

Not so in hockey-mad Vancouver. Public anonymity is not an option. Stroll down Robson St. and he will be instantly pestered. That’s a simple fact of NHL life on Canada’s left coast.

With his team eliminated in the first round of the playoffs the past two seasons, emotional moneybags owner Francesco Aquilini is believed to have his fingerprints all over this potential hiring.

Having provided GM Mike Gillis with the finances needed to spend to the cap along with other services such as a sleep doctor, there is a school of thought in Vancouver that Aquilini wants a hard-ass coach for an aging team that needs to win now.

After two interviews — one of which that reportedly included a discussion on if he could be more personable with the media — Tortorella apparently fit Aquilini’s criteria better than the likes of John Stevens and Lindy Ruff, who was officially announced as the new coach of the Dallas Stars on Friday.

The window is closing on the Canucks as an NHL powerhouse. The Sedins, for example, will turn 33 in September and have been linked to rumours that they will return to their native Sweden when their contracts run out after the 2013-14 season.

Scrape through his bluster and the fact remains that Tortorella can flat-out coach. He won a Stanley Cup with Tampa Bay in 2004. He regularly led the Rangers into the post-season.

At the same time, how will the accompanying baggage play out in Vancouver?

Imagine what the fan outcry will be if, say, he makes one of the twins a healthy scratch like he did with Brad Richards. How will his defence-first philosophy play out for a Canucks team that was starved for offence at times last season? And will he be able to get finesse players like the Sedins and Chris Higgins to block shots, which he demanded of his players in New York?

As of Friday afternoon, the Canucks had not made an official announcement. If and when they do, it will be a strange head-scratching marriage to be sure.

COACHING CAROUSEL

Vigneault got a taste of New York life Friday when he was introduced at the fabled Radio City Music Hall. “I was thinking about the opportunity to coach the New York Rangers, one of the Original Six teams, in this great city, and there wasn’t a chance I could pass that up,” Vigneault said ... Could Mark Messier join AV’s coaching staff? Stay tuned ... Good move by new Stars GM Jim Nill in hiring Ruff, one of the best in the biz. Ironically, Ruff’s only visit to the final as a coach saw his Sabres lose to the Stars on Brett Hull’s “in-the-crease” goal in 1999. “It’s a long time ago — I’ve got past that,” Ruff said Friday ... Friday’s announcement that Dave Tippett had agreed to a five-year contract extension speaks to his loyalty to the Coyotes, the financially-strapped team which he has led to a 156-96-42 record and three playoff appearances in four seasons. Had Tippett opted to go elsewhere, teams would have lined up for him.

LAST MINUTE OF PLAY

Kings goalie Jonathan Bernier’s comments to espn.com about possibly being dealt has ignited a firestorm of speculation involving the Leafs, Flyers, Panthers, Islanders and Wild. “It’s actually exciting,” Bernier said. “But I really can’t control anything. It’s up to (Kings GM) Dean (Lombardi). If there’s the right trade for him, I’m sure he’ll make the right call” ...Word out of Raleigh suggests the Hurricanes are contemplating trading the No. 5 pick in next week’s draft in order to move down.


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