Jason Brough

Torts wants to help the Blue Jackets ‘strut’ again

17 Comments

It was classic John Tortorella at his introductory press conference today in Columbus.

The new head coach of the Blue Jackets performed all his greatest hits, including “Just Going About Our Business” to “I Don’t Pay Attention To The Other Team” to “It’s Not About X’s and O’s, It’s About Mindset.”

Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen was there, too, after making the “very difficult decision” to fire coach Todd Richards in the wake of his team’s 0-7-0 start.

But Torts, as always, was the star attraction. And he believes the situation in Columbus is salvageable.

“There’s some good players in that room, and it’s a good team,” said Tortorella. “It’s just gone…the confidence isn’t there. And so to come into a situation where we haven’t gotten a point as the season’s started, it’s a pretty good challenge.

“But I think it will make our team better. Once we get through it. In the big picture of an 82-game schedule, this will make us better, once we do get through it.”

Which begs the question: how do they get through it?

For starters, Tortorella thinks the Jackets’ four-game road trip — they play tomorrow in Minnesota — will help.

“It forces you to be together,” he said. “I think we need to really close ranks here, as a group, and just knock this down.”

Tortorella insisted that the negative momentum that’s been building as the Jackets have lost game after game can quickly be turned the other way. However, he admitted he’ll need to do a better job of listening to his players if that’s to happen.

“I think as a coach you’re always looking to improve,” he said. “I think that is one of my pitfalls. It happens to a lot of coaches, you kind of get the blinders on. You don’t really know what’s going on around you, you’re just kind of focused in. I think you can lose some people that way.”

Tortorella added that he’ll be leaning on forward Brandon Dubinksy, a player he coached and “went through the process” with during their time together with the Rangers.

“I had him at a different stage in his career, when he was a young kid,” said Tortorella. “We went through the process, him and I. Some good things, some bad things. But it was my first meeting today, was sitting down with [Dubinsky]. It was so good to see him. He’s a family man now. I need to lean on him.”

Predictably, Tortorella was asked to describe his coaching style.

“My coaching style, it’s a pretty simple approach,” he said. “We want to pursue. We want to be aggressive. We want to go north-south and play very quickly. There’s really no secrets. A lot of coaches are doing the same thing. It’s making sure you’re doing it better.”

In the end, Tortorella believes that winning hockey is more about mindset than tactics.

“You can talk X’s and O’s and analytics and all that stuff there,” he said. “But it’s how you feel about yourself. It’s amazing what you can overcome if you have that arrogance — the right type of arrogance — and strut, within your game.”

Bruins-Flyers: Beleskey out, Bergeron TBD, Manning out, Luke Schenn in

Andrej Sustr, Matt Beleskey
8 Comments

Some lineup notes for tonight’s Flyers-Bruins game on NBCSN:

— For Boston, winger Matt Beleskey is out with an upper-body injury while center Patrice Bergeron may or may not play due to personal reasons. Bergeron’s wife is apparently expecting the couple’s first child. Hence, the possibility Chris Kelly could be centering a line between Brad Marchand and Brett Connolly

Meanwhile, Loui Eriksson could take Beleskey’s spot on the other top line, with David Krejci and David Pastrnak.

The Bruins are back home after winning two straight on the road and improving their record to 2-3-0. Their three losses to start the season all came at home.

— For Philadelphia, Luke Schenn will reportedly replace Brandon Manning on defense. It will be Schenn’s third game of the season. He hasn’t played since Oct. 10 in a 7-1 loss to Florida. R.J. Umberger is also back in; he’ll replace Sam Gagner.

The Flyers lost 2-1 last night at home versus Dallas. Michal Neuvirth will start in goal versus the Bruins, coming off two straight shutouts.

Report: Flames GM ‘willing to talk about a very big deal’

Brad Treliving
31 Comments

The Calgary Flames lost again last night, falling 6-2 at home to the Washington Capitals.

The surprise team of 2014-15 is now 1-5-0 to start 2015-16. The Flames have been outscored 25-12. Their only win wasn’t even in regulation; it came in overtime.

So while it’s no surprise to learn that Flames GM Brad Treliving has been working the phones trying to make a trade, courtesy Sportsnet’s Mark Spector, the names reportedly being thrown around are certainly worthy of a raised eyebrow or two:

No small trade is going to fix his Flames, who are entirely broken right now, and word is out that Treliving is willing to talk about a very big deal if he can find one. We even heard that his conversation with Tampa Bay general manager Steve Yzerman was all about the Lightning’s obvious issues with signing soon-to-be unrestricted free agent Steven Stamkos.

The Flames would be willing to deal a top young player, perhaps Sam Bennett, to acquire Stamkos at this point.

Now, look, nobody’s saying that Stamkos is on his way to Calgary for sure. If you were a GM and you were talking to Yzerman, you’d probably ask how things were going with his pending UFA superstar, too.

But — but! — if Stamkos were to be traded, a young center like Bennett would be exactly the kind of player that Yzerman would no doubt request.

Anyway, Spector lists a few other Flames that could be trade bait (not necessarily as part of a Stamkos deal), so give his story a read.

One thing that Treliving definitely has to do is figure out his goaltending situation. The Flames still have three netminders on the roster, and that’s one too many. Unfortunately, neither Jonas Hiller nor Karri Ramo has played well so far, limiting their trade value, while young Joni Ortio has yet to make an appearance.

Update: 

Ramo is a pending unrestricted free agent with a $3.8 million cap hit.

Jackets confirm hiring of Tortorella, a ‘coach with a proven track record of success’

John Tortorella
AP
16 Comments

The Columbus Blue Jackets have confirmed today’s big news that Todd Richards has been fired as head coach and replaced by John Tortorella.

“After much deliberation and discussion, we have made the very difficult decision late last night to remove Todd Richards as our head coach and we’ve reached an agreement with John Tortorella to join the Columbus Blue Jackets in that capacity,” said GM Jarmo Kekalainen in a release.

“None of us saw our season unfolding the way it has and every one of us from management to coaches to players bears responsibility. There is still a lot of hockey to be played and we believe this change was necessary to give our team the best chance to accomplish the goals we’ve set for this season.”

On his new coach, Kekalainen said: “John Tortorella is an experienced National Hockey League coach with a proven track record of success. He is a Stanley Cup winner and we believe the right person to lead our team at this time.”

The Jackets will hold a press conference shortly.

Red Wings coach: If we keep playing like we’ve played, we’re not a playoff team

Jeff Blashill
6 Comments

The 3-2-0 Detroit Red Wings may have a winning record after five games, but their coach doesn’t like the way they’re trending.

“We told the team [Monday that] if we have the exact same process this five-game segment, we’re probably not a playoff team,” Jeff Blashill said, per MLIVE. “So our process has to get better and that’s what we’ve tried to work on these last two days.”

Shot totals have to be a statistical concern for Blashill. The Red Wings have yet to register more than 24 in a single game. Overall, they’ve been outshot 167-107.

Not surprisingly, Blashill wants his team to have the puck more in the attacking zone. He’s also had the Wings work on the power play at practice.

The Red Wings play the Oilers tonight in Edmonton. They’re in Calgary Friday and Vancouver Saturday.