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Candid Gillis says he and Tortorella both face uncertain futures

Vancouver Canucks general manager Mike Gillis addresses a news conference in Vancouver, British Columbia May 9, 2013.

ANDY CLARK/REUTERS

For the second time in three weeks, the general manager of the Vancouver Canucks did not express support for his head coach.

Speaking on local radio in Vancouver on Thursday morning, an off day for the team, Canucks GM Mike Gillis was asked about the future of coach John Tortorella. Gillis said he wasn't sure and said everyone, including himself, will face scrutiny after the season.

"Our problems are far reaching, and they will be addressed," said Gillis of the team that will miss the playoffs for the first time in his tenure, which began in mid-2008.

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Gillis was speaking on Team 1040, the Canucks radio broadcaster, and echoed the non-support of his head coach he issued three weeks ago in Florida. After the NHL general managers meeting, Gillis called questions about Tortorella's future rumours and speculation but then emphasized Tortorella's suspension in January – "an incident…that was hard to describe" – as one of the main reasons for the team's tailspin.

On Thursday, Gillis expressed regret over the team's style of play, which this season is shaped in the image of Tortorella's hard-driving defensive-minded ethos. The result is one of the lowest-scoring teams in the league.

When Gillis started in 2008, he believed in an offensive game played with skill and speed. After losing the Stanley Cup final to Boston in 2011, and losing in the first round to Los Angeles in 2012, Gillis was swayed to remake the Canucks in the guise of those two squads, hardier, tougher.

The experiment, Gillis suggested Thursday, has failed, and he wants to get back to his original vision as the team's true long-term strategy

"I'm tired of chasing a moving target," said Gillis.

"If people don't want to get on side with how I view this team and how it's supposed to play, then they won't be here," he also said.

When Gillis fired former coach Alain Vigneault last year, the general manager said the quickest way to remake a team was by changing the coach. He said on Thursday that there is more than one reason for the Canucks problems this year but, in general, spoke starkly about what has happened. The Canucks are among the worst teams in the entire league in the season's second half and fell out prime contention – the top three – in the Pacific Division way back in November.

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"When you have an entire team's level of performance drop off," said Gills, "there has to be reasons for it."

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About the Author
National correspondent, Vancouver bureau

David Ebner is a national correspondent based in Vancouver. He joined The Globe and Mail in 2000 and worked in Toronto and Calgary before moving to Vancouver in 2008. He has reported on a wide range of stories – business, politics, arts, crime – and has covered sports since 2012. More

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