John Tortorella’s run with the Columbus Blue Jackets nearing its end?

John Tortorella
Mar 6, 2021; Dallas, Texas, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella argues a call during the second period against the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

All coaches have a shelf life and in the NHL that’s usually around three years. That’s why John Tortorella’s 6 year run with the Columbus Blue Jackets is so impressive. Come the end of this season it’s very likely the Torts era in Columbus will be over.

John Tortorella’s rocky season

This has been a tough season for the Blue Jackets. 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.”

Make no mistake about it, Torts is a man of his word.

john tortorella
Aug 11, 2020; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella gestures as he speaks to his players in game one of the first round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs against Tampa Bay LIghtning at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

John Tortorella moving on could be a mutual decision

The Blue Jackets are 15-20-9 and sit in 7th place in the Central Division as of this writing. They are closer to last place then to the 4th and final playoff spot held by the red-hot Predators. Being 10 points out, Jarmo Kekkalainen 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. Once again, this is speculation but it has traction with Aaron Portline writing about it in The Athletic.

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.

The Athletic

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.