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Tortorella with big praise for Gulutzan

The pair coached together in Vancouver in 2013-14

by Torie Peterson @ToriePeterson / CalgaryFlames.com

COLUMBUS, OH -- They may have only coached together for one season in Vancouver but Calgary Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan left a big impression on John Tortorella.

"I think he's progressive," Tortorella said after the Blue Jackets' morning skate. "I think he's got a really interesting insight to the game. I think he's a terrific coach, I really do."

Gulutzan was relatively unknown to Tortorella before he was hired by the Canucks back in the summer of 2013 - something he welcomed. With Mike Sullivan on board as an assistant coach, Tortorella was looking for a new face with a different perspective to serve as his other assistant coach.

"Remember, (Sullivan) and I were glued to the hip. We had coached together for a long time," Tortorella noted. "We both knew that we needed some different blood, some different thoughts brought into our foundation as coaches and how we felt about the game.

"Gully was being chased by a lot of people at that point in time during the summer. A number of teams were after him. He was driving back home and I called him and I could tell right on the phone call … I don't know where he was but the phone would cut out and he would have to pull over and call me back … but I could tell, just through the amount of work I did in asking people about him that he was the right guy for us."

The 2013-14 season was a tumultuous campaign for the Canucks, finishing fifth in the Pacific Division and missing the playoffs. But those experiences have shaped each of those men behind the bench, for the better.

Tortorella was hired as the Blue Jackets bench boss on Oct. 21, 2015. They didn't make the playoffs last season but are off to a great start this year. With a 10-4-3 record and 23 points, they hold the first Wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference.

Sullivan signed on with the Pittsburgh Penguins organization on Jun. 18, 2015, as the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins head coach, and was promoted to Pittsburgh's head coach on Dec. 12, 2015, after Mike Johnston was fired. He led the Penguins to win the Stanley Cup this past spring.

And Gulutzan is now in his second stint as an NHL head coach, being hired by the Flames this past June. While Calgary hasn't gotten off to the start they would have liked; Tortorella is steadfast in his belief in his former coworker.

"We went through some philosophy things, as the three of us, when we were going through the ups and downs in Vancouver," Tortorella reminisced. "I do think it made all three of us better coaches, going through some of that stuff. Gully always says that: he says, 'I'm a better coach now than I was in Dallas.' It may not be in the results yet but he is.

"Terrific guy, terrific family. Very intellectual about the game. That's where the game is going. A lot of different things are being brought into coaching and I think Gully is on top of those things."

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