Preseason hockey has already been rife with drama, from Sam Gagner's broken jaw at the hands of Zack Kassian to the John Scott-Phil Kessel-David Clarkson debacle that followed just a day later. Thursday night in Vancouver will provide another interesting storyline to follow.
That is when John Tortorella and Alain Vigneault will cross paths for the first time since playing Coach Swap this summer. Following seven seasons with the Canucks, the last of which ended with a first-round sweep by the San Jose Sharks, Vigneault was brought to New York as the affable, even-keeled antithesis to his brash, tough-talking predecessor.
Meanwhile, Tortorella, who wore out his welcome in the Big Apple and made his fair share of players bristle under his watch, is back behind the bench in Vancouver, trying to provide a skilled team with a jolt.
The two clubs square off Thursday night in a match that has less to do with the personnel on the ice and more to do with the regime change in both cities.
The Rangers have touted their “clean slate” mentality under Vigneault, a clear message that they had endured enough under Tortorella’s tenure. Meanwhile, the Canucks have also seemed to embrace their new voice, even if it means some profanity-strewn tirades along the way.
Tortorella, whose rocky relationship with reporters is well-documented, has not spoken to anyone from the New York media since his departure in late May. Perhaps he’ll have some things to get off his chest when they all descend on Rogers Arena before the game.
Vigneault has already said he plans to thank people he didn’t get a chance to thank upon his hasty exit, but don’t bet on Tortorella taking the same diplomatic, genial approach.
Of all the things you can say about the fiery coach, he’s never boring.