A day after general manager Mike Gillis expressed doubt over his own future and that of his bench boss, Vancouver Canucks coach John Tortorella wouldn't let himself be drawn into the speculation over his job status after the season.
"Mike Gillis is my boss and I can't speak for Mike," said Tortorella of his boss's comments on Friday afternoon. "I don't know how to answer to him because I can't speak for him. I don't want to do that. Mike and I are always talking, but to answer that, I just can't. It's not fair to him or me."
Sitting six points out of the final wild card in the Western Conference with only five games to play, the Canucks are set to miss the playoffs for just the third time in 13 seasons and the first time since 2008. Still, Tortorella expressed no interest in publicly discussing his team's and, by extension, his own future.
"You're digging at a spot I'd rather talk internally about," he said. "That's probably something we can talk about after the season is over. I have to worry about coaching a hockey team. We have five more games, a team that needs to better and that's my focus."
Gillis spoke on Thursday of his team's inability to play up to the style and level of play that they're accustomed to for much of the season and Tortorella acknowledged his concerns, but maintained that he and Gillis shared a similar vision.
"The style of play that we're teaching, we're on the same page, yes," he explained. "And it was a style of play that we played at the beginning of the year and no one else is responsible for the falter of the team and not staying up with the style of play that needs to be played here than me. I let it go just through our whole situation with the injuries and didn't grab a hold of it quick enough. No one else is responsible."
While placing the onus on himself for his team's decline in play, Tortorella shot down the suggestion that he was overworking his star players to the point of injury. The Canucks have lost 282 man games to injury with key contributors including Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Ryan Kesler and Kevin Bieksa missing significant time.
"It's easy to look at numbers and say you played them too much and that is not why there's been a struggle there," said Tortorella. "You're not going to talk me into that. It just isn't, but I certainly have tried in the second part, as we've tried to get healthy in the second part of the year, tried to stretch it, but a lot of it is determined on depth within your line-up. I don't want to go much further than that because I think I'll be a little bit too critical and I don't want to do that here. That's an organizational-type situation and an organizational conversation."
The Canucks are next in action on Saturday night when they host the Los Angeles Kings.