John Tortorella was not behind the bench for the Columbus Blue Jackets’ 4-3 loss to the Nashville Predators on Thursday night and will not be attending the All-Star game this weekend — where he was supposed to be the head coach of the Metropolitan Division squad — due to a family emergency.
On Friday, Tortorella wanted to clear things up on the nature of the emergency.
He explained to Aaron Portzline of the Columbus-Dispatch that he needed a few days over the All-Star break because one of his families five dogs — a pit bull that belongs to his son, Nick, an Army Ranger that is currently stationed overseas — is failing in health and that it was important for him to be there for his family and son.
Because the NHL has a strict policy in place that forces a player or coach to miss at least one regular season game for not participating in the All-Star game if they are selected, Tortorella had to miss at least one game to avoid a suspension.
With the Blue Jackets playing a division rival, the New York Rangers, in their return from the break, it made more sense to miss Thursday’s inter-conference game against Nashville instead.
Tortorella has always had an immense passion for dogs and does a ton of work with shelters to help find them good homes. He talked about this extensively one year ago, via the Blue Jackets.
Tortorella and his wife run the Tortorella Family Foundation.
The NHL has yet to announce a replacement for him at the All-Star game.