The Columbus Blue Jackets are moving on from the winningest coach in the franchise’s history.
On Sunday, the team announced it has mutually agreed to part ways with head coach John Tortorella. Tortorella's contract expired at the end of the 2020-21 season, and neither he nor the team are interested in an extension.
“Torts and I have had numerous conversations throughout the season, and we have agreed that the time is right for both he and club to go our separate ways,” Columbus general manager Jarmo Kekalainen stated. “He is a great coach and his accomplishments with our club over the past six seasons speak for themselves. He has played an integral role in our success since his arrival, and we are extremely grateful for his passion and commitment to the Blue Jackets and our city. He was the right coach at the right time and helped us establish a standard that we will carry forward.”
Tortorella was behind the Blue Jackets bench for the past six seasons, leading the team to a winning record in five of those years and qualifying for the playoffs in four. He won a Jack Adams Award with Columbus in 2016-17 and helped the organization win its first-ever playoff series in 2018-19, when the team pulled off an unlikely upset over the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“After discussion and consideration of the future direction of the team, Jarmo and I have come to a mutual agreement to part ways,” Tortorella said. “I'd like to thank the Columbus Blue Jackets organization for the opportunity to coach this team and live in the great Columbus-area. It has been a privilege to work with the players, coaches and hockey operations staff, which is one of the best in the League. Also, I want to thank the CBJ fans and the community for the support they've given the team and for the work of the CBJ family in support of the community.”
This past year was a tumultuous one for the Blue Jackets. It was the first time the team had experienced a losing season with Tortorella behind the bench, finishing the campaign 18-26-12, the worst record in the Central Division.
The two-time Jack Adams Award winner made some headlines this season that likely played into him and the organization parting ways. The bench boss, known for his short fuse and disciplinarian approach, benched star Pierre-Luc Dubois just days prior to the former third-overall pick’s trade to the Winnipeg Jets. Tortorella then proceeded to bench the centrepiece of Columbus’s return in the deal, Patrik Laine, a move the forward didn’t necessarily agree with.
Tortorella, 62, has coached in the NHL for 20 seasons and is a one-time Stanley Cup winner.
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