Columbus Blue Jackets: Changing Coaches


Apr 13, 2014; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Canucks head coach John Tortorella signals from the bench during the third period against the Calgary Flames at Rogers Arena. The Vancouver Canucks won 5-1. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

With last night’s 4-0 loss to the Islanders, management decided it was time to make the change many so desperately craved. Todd Richards was removed from his post as head coach and replaced with John Tortorella.

It’s hard to defend Richards at this point, he’s got an 0-7 record to start the year and with lousy opening months (16-34-5 since 2012) each season he’s coached, yikes. But it is worth noting that these kind of changes should be made before training camp, not 7 games into the season. The new coach needs some time to institute his system, make changes, and… well coach. Once the season begins there really isn’t anytime for these things to take place.

All the complaints we have about Richards existed before the season started, so my main criticism here is why wasn’t this done at a more appropriate time?

Moving on, let’s talk about John Tortorella. Where oh where do we start with Torts.

It’s very possible that the Jacks couldn’t have found a more divisive pick if they had tried. Those who love Tortorella adore him as a gear grinder, defensive genius, and leader of men. Those who hate him do so with a similar passion.

Starting with the positive Torts has a very impressive career win total. With 444 wins he has more than any other American coach, and is 38th all time.Then again he’s mostly coached very talented teams and there’s very little evidence to show that his coaching actually made them better (and a great deal to suggest it made them worse). When his teams aren’t great they tend to lose and lose badly, which is why he has a career loss total of 449.

If you’re a fan of  toughness on your hockey team then it’s likely you’ll be jumping for joy this morning, Torts brings that in spades. Blocked shots, hits, fighting, all the things Don Cherry loves to see and we thought made for winning hockey in the 80’s, these are the things Tortorella coached teams are made of. Any player, and I do mean any player, that isn’t willing to put his body on the line each and every game will quickly find himself benched.

I can see how people find that appealing. With all the emotion and energy fans put into supporting their favorite teams, it can really suck to see a player not give his all every single night. I get that, I honestly do.

But not every player is meant to be a grinder. When he was in Vancouver Tortorella demanded that the Sedins block more shots, and even put them on the PK unit at times. Whatever you think of the Sedins you have to recognize that that’s just stupid. Each player produces value in their own way, you can’t turn a speedy play-maker into a goon anymore than you could turn John Scott into a 40 goal scorer. This is basically what Torts tries to do regularly, except when it doesn’t workout he proceeds too throw a big hissey fit and call the player mean names.

At the end of the day the Blue Jackets will get better, it’s inevitable, no team has gone 0-82 and the team has actually played much better than their record suggests. But it’s probably going to have very little to do with Tortorella. What the team really needs is a more talented defensive unit, I just hope management doesn’t forget that.

Update: For what it’s worth Torts acknowledged all of this in the press conference today, said he’s had time to reflect and claims to be different now. Hopefully it’s true but we’ll just have to wait and see.

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