Hockey World Blog

Washington Capitals should pursue John Tortorella

After being let go by the Vancouver Canucks today after just one season behind the bench, coach John Tortorella could be a hot commodity this off season for teams looking to make a change.

Both the Washington Capitals and Nashville Predators are in the hunt for a new coach. The Predators relieved longtime head coach Barry Trotz, who spent 15 years behind the bench with the team and was nominated for the Jack Adams trophy in 2010, shortly after the team’s season ended early last month with the Predators failing to make the playoffs for the second year in a row. Subsequently, Trotz could be a leading candidate to replace Tortorella in Vancouver.

The Washington Capitals made two big management changes after the team failed to qualify for the playoffs. Shortly after the season ended, the team announced that General manager George McPhee would not have his contract renewed, and head coach Adam Oates, who had just completed his first full season as head coach of the Capitals, would be relieved of his duties. The moves were a clear sign that change is needed in Washington and that McPhee and Oates were not the right people for the job.

Known for his fiery attitude and his commitment to a defensive style of hockey and shot-blocking, Tortorella would probably be a good fit for Nashville. The team lacks the powerhouse forwards capable of scoring 80+ points a season. Under Trotz, they relied on defensive ability and strong goaltending more than offensive prowess. However, Tortorella’s style might just be more of the same. Nashville management will likely want to go in a new direction, otherwise they would have kept Trotz behind the bench.

For Washington, however, perhaps Tortorella is the type of jolt the teams needs. They were 21st in the league in goals against per game, and 27th in shots against per game this past season. In recent years, the team has seemingly struggled defensively, and Tortorella could help turn that around. In his lone season with Vancouver, he was a strong advocate of defensive play and shot blocking, and often used stars Henrik and Daniel Sedin on the penalty kill – a role otherwise unfamiliar to them under other coaches. A former Stanley Cup champion, Tortorella has the killer instinct that the Capitals lack, and could help turn the team into champions.

If Tortorella was brought on to coach the Capitals, it would be interesting to see how his defensive approach would go over with star players like Alexander Ovechkin. In 2011-12, Ovechkin clashed with head coach Dale Hunter, who also preached a defensive style of play.

Former Tampa Bay Lightning coach Guy Boucher will likely get consideration for the jobs in Washington, Nashville and Vancouver as well. But if management in Washington is keen on winning a championship, Tortorella has the experience and just might be what they need to turn their ship around. John+Tortorella+Vancouver+Canucks+Announce+mklvTT-cJw7l


  1. C

    May 6, 2014 at 6:53 am

    I agree with you completely. Having watched the Capitals play 100+ times I agree that the Capitals lack defensive awareness and overall solidity. In my opinion the Capitals have some of the worst defenseman in the league. For example Mike Green. He is excellent on the offensive side of the ice, but is appalling at doing his actual job, keeping the puck out of the net. I do believe that Tortorella could provide the Capitals with the changes that need to be made defensively, but I believe that he is also a liability to any organization he coaches. Throughout the years Tortorella has been fined and suspended many times because he loses control of his emotions. For example, earlier this season when he tried to enter the Calgary Flames locker room after a brawl occurred on the ice, or a few years ago when he was suspended while playing against the Caps in the playoffs for throwing a waterbottle at the fans. Its times like these that I am uncertain of Tortorella’s leadership. Yes, I believe you need a coach that is fiery, but not one that lacks discipline. The job of a coach is to lead the team, and you can’t do that if you are not even on the bench.

  2. Mike Rizzuto

    May 7, 2014 at 9:19 pm

    I disagree completely. The caps biggest success is when they unleashed the biggest offensive threats in the league. Ovi, Semen, Backstrom, & Green. They need a puck possession coach like Toddy boy out in San Jose. When the Caps have the puck they are the most deadly team in the league when they don’t, Ovi finished -50 and coaches get fired. Seems like a no brainer for me. As for Torts… nobody likes that style anymore, it’s antiquated. If he doesn’t transform and go through a huge amount of personal growth, he won’t have success at the NHL level going forward. It’s a mistake to hire this guy in his current state… for any team.

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