John Tortorella not expected back as Columbus Blue Jackets Head Coach next season

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John Tortorella (NHLI/Getty Images)

The Columbus Blue Jackets will be looking for a new head coach next year. According to Darren Dreger, current bench boss John Tortorella is not expected back. The longtime coach of the Jackets will have his contract expire at the conclusion of the season and be looking for a new locker room.

A mutual decision

General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen realized this was a lost season. He sold off some pieces at the deadline including UFA defenseman David Savard and their captain, Nick Foligno. There’s also some rumors that this isn’t going to be your typical dismissal and that John Tortorella is ready to move on. Per Aaron Portline it appears to be a mutual decision.

Coach John Tortorella is in the final year of his contract, as are his assistant coaches Brad Shaw and Brad Larsen. Tortorella has shown no signs that he’s done coaching, but he may be on his way out of Columbus, a mutual decision with management. If Tortorella leaves, Kekalainen will need to hire a new coach, and perhaps an entirely new coaching staff.

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If that’s the case, Torts may be a prime candidate for the head coaching job in Buffalo. They desperately need to turn around the culture of losing and for my money there’s no better coach. He’s done it in Tampa Bay, New York, and Columbus.

Torts’ run in Ohio may be over, but his quest for another Stanley Cup isn’t. It’s just a matter of where he will go next.

John Tortorella’s rocky season

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Mar 18, 2021; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella walks off the ice after the game against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

This has been a tough season for the Blue Jackets as they are dead last in the Central Division. It could be argued that Tortorella didn’t make things any easier. His public dispute with Pierre-Luc Dubois set the tone for the entire 2020-21 campaign. Sportsnet’s Christine Simpson sat down with Torts afterwards and he didn’t sugarcoat the situation.

“I don’t believe in trying to change someone’s mind,” he said about Pierre-Luc Dubois. “If someone doesn’t want to be here then that’s a hard thing for me to stomach.” When asked if he had any regrets about how it all went down he answered quickly, “No, I don’t have regrets.”

Things didn’t get any better in Columbus with Patrik Laine replacing Dubois via trade. Soon after being acquired Laine found himself stapled to the bench. “That’s going to stay in-house,” John Tortorella said when asked about it. “No, it wasn’t because of the missed assignment. There’s a number of things that come into play with that. That’ll stay in the locker room.” 

In fairness to Torts, Laine actually admitted he deserved to be benched after he mouthed off to one of the assistant coaches. Of course, that wasn’t the only benching Laine endured and it made many speculate if the head coach was looking for a way out.

Anyone who knows John Tortorella knows that notion is ridiculous. “I coached Luc like I coach every other player here,” Tortorella explained after Dubois was traded. “Like I’m gonna coach Laine when he gets in here. The best thing I can do for a player is to be honest with them everyday.”