The Canucks fired John Tortorella on Thursday, one year into the fiery coach’s long-term deal.
Tortorella, who signed a five-year contract last summer after being dismissed by the Rangers, went 36-35-11 and failed to reach the playoffs behind the Vancouver bench. Assistant coach Mike Sullivan was also fired.
The Canucks struggled to their worst finish in 14 years, and it came just three seasons after former coach Alain Vigneault led the team to Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals. Vigneault replaced Tortorella as coach of the Rangers and advanced to the second round of the playoffs on Wednesday with a Game 7 win over Philadelphia.
Tortorella’s dismissal came just weeks after general manager Mike Gillis was fired. The Canucks then named former team captain Trevor Linden as president of hockey operations.
‘‘We are making an important change in the direction of our team,’’ Linden said in a statement. ‘‘On behalf of the entire organization, we extend our thanks to John, Mike, and their families for their commitment to the Canucks and wish them the very best.
At his season-ending news conference last month, Tortorella took some of the blame but also placed a lot of it on the players. He said the Canucks are getting old, the core group has become complacent, and the team needs to get younger.
‘‘I felt from Day 1 that it’s stale,’’ he said. ‘‘That’s not their fault. This is a group that has been together for a long time.”
In 946 career games as an NHL coach over 14 seasons, Tortorella is 446-375-37-78.
Hart finalists named
Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby, Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf, and Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux are finalists for the Hart Memorial Trophy.
The league announced the finalists for the trophy, which essentially serves as the MVP award. The winner will be announced June 24.
Crosby scored 36 goals and led the league in assists (68) and points (104). Getzlaf scored a career-high 31 goals and ranked second in the league with 87 points. Giroux matched a career high with 28 goals and finished third in the scoring race (86 points).
Poti hangs ’em up
Longtime defenseman Tom Poti is retiring after 14 seasons. In 824 regular-season games with the Oilers, Rangers, Islanders and Capitals, Poti had 69 goals and 258 assists. The Worcester native played at Cushing Academy and Boston University and was drafted by Edmonton in the third round in 1996. The 37-year-old Poti helped the United States win a silver medal at the 2002 Olympics . . . The Islanders acquired the negotiating rights to goalie Jaroslav Halak from the Capitals for a fourth-round pick. If a new contract isn’t reached with Halak before July 1, the 28-year-old goalie can become an unrestricted free agent.
Kings erase deficit
Behind Anze Kopitar’s tiebreaking goal and 39 saves from Jonathan Quick, the visiting Kings defeated the Sharks, 5-1, in Game 7 on Wednesday night to become the fourth team to come back from a 3-0 series deficit. The win sets up a series against rival Anaheim in the second round. This is the first time the teams, which are separated by 30 miles, will face off in the playoffs . . . Minnesota will be heading into a second-round series with the Blackhawks with plenty of momentum after eliminating the host Avalanche on Nino Niederreiter’s goal 5:02 into overtime for a 5-4 win in Game 7 on Wednesday night.