Jason Brough

Jackets are far better fit for Torts than Canucks were


When the Vancouver Canucks fired John Tortorella, a lot of people thought he was done as an NHL coach.

I actually wasn’t one of those people, even though I thought he was an awful fit for the Canucks and spent a good deal of time trying to prove my point.

When the end finally, mercifully came to his time in Vancouver, I wrote that I could “see him having success with a young team with more impressionable” players.

Like, say…Columbus!

Ryan Johansen, Boone Jenner, Alexander Wennberg, Brandon Saad, Ryan Murray, David Savard. All of those players are 24 or younger. The captain, Nick Foligno, is only 27.

Jackets forward Brandon Dubinsky knows what it’s like to play for Torts as a young guy.

“He got things out of me I didn’t know I had,” said Dubinsky, who was in his early 20s when he started playing for Tortorella in New York.

“He’s helped my career and I anticipate he’s going to help my career and help a lot of guys here, especially with the amount of young guys we have here.”

Nobody was talking about all the young guys the Canucks had when Tortorella took over. Vancouver was a veteran group that had enjoyed a great deal of success, nearly winning the Stanley Cup in 2011. And just as importantly, they’d enjoyed it playing a certain way. 

Columbus hasn’t had that kind of success. Not even close. The Jackets’ minds should be wide open to whatever he’s preaching.

The Canucks, let’s face it, were also a team on the decline. Tortorella wasn’t wrong when he said the mix was stale. Why else do you think Vancouver hockey fans are so excited about Bo Horvat, Jared McCann, Jake Virtanen, and Ben Hutton? It’s because the Canucks haven’t had such a promising crop of kids in ages.

Look, I’m not saying Tortorella is absolutely going to be successful in Columbus. What I’m saying is that he’s got a much better chance than he did in Vancouver.

And he’d better make the most of it, because if he fails this time, he’s done as an NHL coach.

Related: Torts wants to help the Jackets ‘strut’ again

Sharks call up Mueller; Martin not practicing yet

Mirco Mueller, Bo Horvat
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The San Jose Sharks have recalled defenseman Mirco Mueller and forward Micheal Haley from their AHL club, while sending down d-man Dylan DeMelo and forwards Nikolay Goldobin and Bryan Lerg.

Meanwhile, per CSN Bay Area, veteran defenseman Paul Martin and center Ben Smith did not practice on Wednesday and their availability for tomorrow’s game against the Kings appears to be in doubt.

If Martin needs more time to recover from his lower-body injury (and that sounds likely), expect Mueller to be in the lineup tomorrow versus the Kings, likely paired with Matt Tennyson.

DeMelo, a 22-year-old rookie, took Martin’s spot Saturday and Monday in losses to the Islanders and Rangers, respectively.

Related: Logan Couture out 4-6 weeks

Goalie nods: ‘It’s time’ for Varlamov, who has not been good so far

Semyon Varlamov

Semyon Varlamov will be back in Colorado’s goal when the Avalanche host Carolina tonight.

Varlamov, after registering a lowly .841 save percentage in three starts, was forced to watch backup Reto Berra play the last two games. Berra won the first, shutting out the Ducks in Anaheim. He lost the second, but stopped an impressive 38 of 40 shots as the Avs fell 2-1 to the Kings.

Despite Berra (.975) owning the better numbers early, Varlamov is still the man for the Avs.

“Varly is our No. 1 goalie,” coach Patrick Roy told the Denver Post. “It’s time for him. He’s been practicing really well.”

No word yet if it’ll be Cam Ward or Eddie Lack for Carolina. The Hurricanes play back-to-back Friday and Saturday in Los Angeles and San Jose, respectively, so both goalies should get some action on the road trip.


Tuukka Rask for the Bruins versus Michal Neuvirth for the Flyers, as previously mentioned here.

Jonathan Bernier for the Leafs versus Chad Johnson for the Sabres.

— Petr Mrazek for the  Red Wings versus Cam Talbot for the Oilers.

Blues put Stastny on IR with broken foot

Paul Stastny

The St. Louis Blues will be without Paul Stastny for a while.

The club announced today that the 29-year-old center has been placed on injured reserve with a broken right foot, an injury he suffered in Friday’s game in Vancouver. Stastny missed the Blues’ next two games in Winnipeg and Montreal.

Stastny will be re-evaluated in five weeks. He had one goal and four assists in his first five games, skating mostly on a line with Alex Steen and Vladimir Tarasenko

Jori Lehtera was in Stastny’s spot last night in Montreal. The Blues lost to the Habs, 3-0.

Torts wants to help the Blue Jackets ‘strut’ again


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.”