John Tortorella’s contract with the Blue Jackets expires this summer and Athletic’s Adam Portzline reports that the veteran coach will not re-sign with the team. The Blue Jackets’ season ended Saturday with a 5-4 overtime victory over the Red Wings.
“People talk about a lifespan. I don’t think there is a lifespan for a coach, but what I believe in is, is it the right thing to do?” Tortorella said after the game on Zoom when asked if he would like to return next season. “I think the adjustment of the coach and the players and the staff, I think that’s the most important thing and that’s something that (Jackets general manager) Jarmo (Kekalainen) and I have discussed very honestly. Very honestly. I get it. Am I right? These are the things Jarmo and I have talked about.
“I think this will come to a solution very quickly here.”
Tortorella joined the club after the 2016-17 season started 0-7-0 with Todd Richards.
“John Tortorella is an experienced National Hockey League coach with a proven track record of success,” Kekalainen said at the time of hiring. “He is a Stanley Cup winner and we believe he is the right person to lead our team at this time.”
While he did not lead the Blue Jackets to a Stanley Cup, he did lead the team to four consecutive Stanley Cup playoff appearances from 2016-17. The team also had one of the best postseason performances in NHL history when it swept the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Lightning in the first round of the 2019 playoffs.
This season, the club finished last in the Central Division with a 18-26-12 record. It marked the first full season the club finished below .500 with him at the helm. It didn’t help that the year started shaky with disgruntled forward Pierre-Luc Dubois wanting to leave Columbus. He was soon sent packing, but the player he was traded for, Patrik Laine, also seemed to struggle under Tortorella.
Tortorella will leave with a 227-166-54 record for Columbus. In four teams (Lightning, Blue Jackets, Rangers and Canucks) he has posted an overall record of 672-541-37-132 and holds the record for the most wins among American-born coaches.
While he noted that he joined the Blue Jackets as a senior coach, the 62-year-old doesn’t seem like he wants to hang up his whistle just yet. With that, here’s a quick rundown of five possible landing spots for the colorful trainer:
New York Rangers
If David Quinn is shown the door, could there be a return to Broadway for Tortorella? He posted an impressive 171-118-1-29 record and led the team to four postseason appearances, including a conference final in 2012. Oh, and guess who his captain was for part of his tenure. . . the guy who’s just been named general manager and team president, Chris Drury.
Like Tortorella, Travis Green has not signed beyond this season and there could be a vacancy in the Pacific Northwest. The Canucks and Tortorella also have some history: an 82-game season that was, well, interesting, to say the least. Maybe the duo should do it again?
Bench boss Rick Tocchet will also not be signed beyond this season and could be shown the door after four seasons in the desert. Tortorella could fit in here with the team’s mix of young and veteran players.
All signs point to Gerard Gallant heading to the NHL’s newest club, but Tortorella could land here if general manager Ron Francis wants to stray off course.
Could the Stars part ways with Rick Bowness after the team continued their journey to the 2020 Stanley Cup final by missing the postseason? Maybe. Tortorella has some history with players like Joe Pavelski (Team USA).
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.