John Tortorella gets win number 500 of his NHL coaching career against the struggling Vancouver Canucks. The Columbus Blue Jackets have been nothing short of a league-wide surprise this season. Tortorella plays a big role in the change going on in The Buckeye State.
John Tortorella Gets Win Number 500
Coach Tortorella has seen his fair share of ups and downs over the course of his 16-year career in the NHL. He got his start, with the Tampa Bay Lightning back in the 2000-01 season, and it’s been a wild ride ever since.
He turned Tampa Bay into a hard skating, gritty hockey team that could grind out wins night in and night out. The style that he instilled in his first NHL job has become a staple of his teams that have seen varying degrees of success.
His experience with the Lightning was mostly positive. He was the head coach for the better part of seven seasons, half of his career to date. During that spell he was able to add a Stanley Cup Trophy to his resume and a record of 239-222-36-38. He also made the playoffs in all but his first and last seasons in Tampa. This apparently wasn’t enough for him to keep his job.
It’s safe to say that going to markets like New York, with the Rangers, and Vancouver were failed experiments. The volatile man behind the bench didn’t see eye to eye with many of the New York or Vancouver sports journalist. This made his time unnecessarily difficult.
In all fairness to Tortorella, there were a few journalists in both of these areas who were known to stir the pot, if for nothing else than wanting a story. When you put a coach that has a short temper in the same room as unprofessional journalists, that’s never going to add up to a polite conversation.
Many thought he was going to have a hard time finding a job after being let go in Vancouver. His resume tarnished by his last two coaching gigs, and his attitude apparently unchanged. Fortunately the Blue Jackets were off to the worst start in the NHL modern era. His opportunity arose out of the misfortunes of others.
Surprisingly, he was offered the job to turn around the Blue Jackets. It started off with media outlets, almost all of them outside of Columbus, questioning the hire and saying it wasn’t going to work out. So much for that, huh?
Even though he wasn’t able to salvage the season in a historic run to the playoffs, something only a miracle worker would’ve been able to do, he brought the club back to respectability. The Blue Jackets finished the season with a 34-40-8 record, meaning Tortorella had a respectable record of 34-33-8 with a less than confident squad.
It’s safe to say that whatever Torts, as the Fifth Line faithful so affectionately call him, is selling the players are buying into. The team currently sits fourth in the NHL with a record of 19-5-4, with at least three less games played than all three of the teams ahead of them (Chicago Blackhawks, New York Rangers, and the Pittsburgh Penguins). Whether Columbus can sustain this play throughout the season, and possibly into the playoffs remains to be seen.
If one thing is for sure, it’s that John Tortorella, the winningest American-born coach in NHL history, now joins the 500-win club. This is something that he should be immensely proud of and he’s surely happy to be doing it in a city that’s welcomed him like one of their own. So, to coach Tortorella, congratulations on win number 500!