John Tortorella was named coach of the Vancouver Canucks, completing what amounted to a coaching swap with the New York Rangers.
Tortorella will succeed the fired Alain Vigneault as the 17th coach in the Canucks’ history, the team said today in a statement on its website.
Vigneault was hired last week to fill the Rangers’ vacancy left by Tortorella’s firing after 4 1/2 years in New York, a run capped by National Hockey League playoff berths the last three seasons.
Tortorella, who turned 55 yesterday, has won 410 games over parts of 13 seasons as an NHL coach and captured the Stanley Cup title with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004. The Boston native has more victories than any other American-born coach in NHL history.
“John has coached championship teams and is passionate about winning,” Canucks General Manager Michael Gillis said. “He has a proven ability to bring the best out of his players and we believe he has all of the qualities to bring our team success.”
The Canucks went 26-15-7 this season before being swept by the San Jose Sharks in the first round of the playoffs.
Vigneault, 52, had a 313-170-57 record in Vancouver and the team won the Northwest Division each of the last five seasons, though 2012-13 was a step back for a franchise that has become one of the NHL’s regular Stanley Cup contenders. The Canucks were 19th among the league’s 30 teams in goals per game, and ranked in the bottom 10 in power-play percentage and faceoff percentage. They’ve also lost 10 of their last 11 playoff games.
Tortorella was fired by the Rangers on May 29 after the team lost in the second round of the playoffs. He drew criticism throughout his tenure for short, often heated news conferences, and struggled to get consistent production from five-time All-Star forward Rick Nash, the team’s highest-paid skater, who scored one goal in the playoffs, and three-time All-Star Marian Gaborik, who was traded in April to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Vigneault gained favor among media members in Vancouver for his openness, including the public handling of a goaltending competition last year between Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo. When he was introduced as the Rangers’ coach, he said he intended to give the team’s starters more freedom on the ice.
Tortorella took responsibility after the season ended for the Rangers not being psychologically prepared during their playoff series against the Boston Bruins. Rangers owner Jim Dolan praised Vigneault last week for being able to get the most out of his players.