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Torts promises to behave

New Canucks coach turns on the charm

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John Tortorella smiled at times  during Tuesday's press conference and  said he has learned from the mistakes he made in New York.

DARRYL DYCK / THE CANADIAN PRESS Enlarge Image

John Tortorella smiled at times during Tuesday's press conference and said he has learned from the mistakes he made in New York.

VANCOUVER -- John Tortorella was surprised the subject did not come up in the first question, but he didn't get angry or yell.

Yes, the new Vancouver Canucks coach acknowledged Tuesday, his reputation needs some restructuring, and he vowed to improve it as he attempts to give the city a long-sought Stanley Cup.

"This is the mess I put myself into, and this is the mess I'm going to get myself out of," he said during a news conference.

The Canucks named the fiery Tortorella as their replacement for Alain Vigneault, the winningest coach in franchise history.

Known for being abrasive, Tortorella is perceived as a bench boss who can lose his temper quickly, sometimes blasts players in public, and has little time for questions from reporters.

Vigneault was known more as a cerebral coach who laughed on many occasions and had a rapport with the media. But Tortorella, dressed in a dark suit and tie and smiling at times, turned on the charm at a news conference, even thanking a reporter for her question.

It was all part of Tortorella's effort to let people get to know him better and deal with the media more effectively.

"I know how important that part of the job is here," Tortorella said. "When you lose your job, you crawl into a hole a little bit, you reassess yourself, you try to learn, and I have certainly gone through that process.

"Have I made mistakes? Absolutely. I make my own bed in this type of situation with the perception of myself in the media. But I know how important it is with this job here, especially in this city and this province."

He is also known for battling verbally on occasion with players. But Tortorella, who has 24 years of coaching experience and won a Stanley Cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004, still vowed to be demanding of his charges and hold everyone -- including scoring stars Henrik and Daniel Sedin -- accountable.

"We have a really good leadership group... but we have not won the Stanley Cup," he said. "There's going to be more asked of (the players), and that starts from the twins right on down."

Gillis indicated Vigneault's tenure with the Canucks had run its course after seven seasons.

Why did the club go with a coach who has a markedly different style than Vigneault?

"You have a shelf life as a coach in the National Hockey League," said Gillis. "And, occasionally, a different voice is necessary.

"I think John just has a different voice than Alain. Alain's a very good hockey coach. John's a very good hockey coach. But they approach it from different places and they approach it in different ways, and I felt it was necessary to make a change."

Gillis said the team's ownership group was involved in the interviewing process, but he dismissed the idea the Aquilini family chose the new coach.

"At the end of the day, we were both unanimous in our selection," said Gillis.

Tortorella, a 55-year-old Boston native, has reached the playoffs on eight occasions and won the Jack Adams Award as NHL coach of the year in 2004.

He was let go four days after the Rangers' season ended with a second-round loss to the Boston Bruins.

An assistant with the Rangers in the 1999-2000 season, he took over for John Muckler as head coach for the final four games. Tortorella later spent seven seasons as head coach of the Lightning, with whom he won the Stanley Cup before taking over as head coach of the Rangers in February 2009.

Tortorella will attempt to rebuild his reputation while coaching for the first time in Canada -- something he has always dreamed of.

"To be involved with this, I couldn't be more excited," he said. "It's always something I thought about and wanted the opportunity."

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 26, 2013 C2

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