Coincidentally, the fired Vigneault also replaced Tortorella after the latter coach was let go by the New York Rangers. It will be interesting to see which team, and coaching style, leads to greater success for the two clubs in 2013-14.
But, Tortorella has big shoes to fill in Vancouver, bigger than the ones he left behind in the Big Apple, anyway. Vigneault led the Canucks to the playoffs in six of his seven years with the team. That run included six division titles (including the club's fifth straight Northwest title in 2013), back-to-back Presidents Trophies in 2010-11 and 2011-12, and a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2011. However, after a second straight first-round playoff exit in the spring of 2013 the Canucks decided it was time to part ways with Vigneault.
Of course, Torts does have something Vigneault doesn't: a Stanley Cup championship on his resume. Even if it was back in 2004 with the Tampa Bay Lightning, the fact that Tortorella has been to the top of the NHL mountain in the past means something to the Canucks, a franchise still awaiting its first championship.
Gillis also raised some eyebrows this summer when he opted to trade Cory Schneider to the New Jersey Devils while holding onto the highly-paid Roberto Luongo. For months and months, the GM tried to deal Luongo and make Schneider the undisputed No. 1, but he eventually accepted that the former player's annual $5.33 million cap hit through the 2021-22 season made him virtually un- tradeable.
Even Luongo was shocked by the decision, but he is on board at this point. Who knows? He may even flourish under Tortorella, who expects all his skaters to play a responsible defensive game in front of their goaltender.
Another change that comes from outside the organization is not a good development for the Canucks, as the NHL's realignment plan could put an end to Vancouver's string of division titles. The Canucks dominated the Northwest for years while teams like Calgary, Colorado, Edmonton and Minnesota fell on hard times. This season, however, Vancouver will play in the much tougher Central Division, which includes the defending Stanley Cup champions as well as the St. Louis Blues. The improving Wild are also in the Central, as are Colorado, Dallas, Nashville and Winnipeg.
FORWARDS - Despite the presence of the extremely productive Sedin twins up front, the Canucks somehow managed to finish 19th in the NHL with an average of just 2.54 goals per game.
Although there is some concern Tortorella will clash with the Sedins, it's not like he can afford to bench them. After all, Henrik Sedin led the team with 45 points in 2013, Daniel Sedin was next with 40 before a big drop-off to Jannik Hansen, who was third on the club with 27 points.
Henrik and Daniel have played center and left wing, respectively, on the same line since they were children and that level of familiarity shows on the ice. The brothers are adept at cycling the puck and playing keep away with the defense, a tactic that has produced countless offensive opportunities over the years.
Daniel has historically been the goal-scoring Sedin, with 291 of his 758 career points coming via goals. Henrik, meanwhile, has 792 points on 182 goals and 610 assists.
Although Alexandre Burrows has usually been the Sedin's right winger in years past, Tortorella is going to give Zack Kassian another shot to fill that role in 2013-14. Kassian had five goals in the first seven games of the 2013 season while primarily playing with the Sedins, but was eventually dropped down in the rotation and ended the season with just seven goals and four assists in 39 games.