Columbus Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella will not be behind the bench on Thursday night when the team visits the Nashville Predators due to a family emergency.
Assistant coaches Brad Larsen and Brad Shaw will handle the coaching responsibilities for the game in his absence.
Along with missing Thursday’s game, he will also miss the NHL All-Star weekend where he was supposed to be the coach for the Metropolitan Division team.
The Blue Jackets released the following statement from Tortorella:
“Regrettably, there is a personal matter that requires my immediate attention that will force me to leave the team temporarily and miss the All-Star Game in Los Angeles. This decision was not made lightly as representing the Columbus Blue Jackets is something I am very proud of, but it is the right decision for my family and I. I appreciate the support of our organization and the National Hockey League and my hope is to be back with the team next week.”
Neither Tortorella or the Blue Jackets revealed what the emergency is, but according to Rob Mixer of the Blue Jackets it does not involve his son Nick who is an Army Ranger.
The Blue Jackets hired Tortorella early last season following an 0-7 start. Since being hired by the Blue Jackets the team is 66-44-12 under Tortorella, including a surprising 32-11-4 mark this season that has them in second place in the Metropolitan Division just two points behind the Washington Capitals.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick caused quite a stir this preseason when he decided to not stand for the National Anthem as a form of protest to racial inequality and injustices in America. It is a protest that has not only received both criticism and praise, but also one that a couple of other athletes (both within the NFL and outside of it) have since followed.
One place you probably will not see it happen is on a team coached by John Tortorella.
Tortorella was asked about that very situation on Tuesday by ESPN’s Linda Cohn and was very clear about how he would handle it. That player would not leave the bench for the remainder of the game.
“If any of my players sit on the bench for the national anthem, they will sit there the rest of the game,” Tortorella said.
Along with his duties as head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Tortorella is also the head coach of the United States team at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, something that he obviously takes very seriously beyond what it means on the ice.
“It is hockey, but I also think it is a huge platform for us to represent our country, especially in today’s world, with everything is going on,” Tortorella said on Tuesday.
One player that seemed to have a disagreement with Tortorella’s approach was Tampa Bay Lightning forward J.T. Brown.
Along with his plan to bench any player that does not stand Tortorella, whose son is an Army Ranger, has also pledged to stop referring to hockey games as “wars” and “battles” because of the new perspective he has because of his son’s service.
Is John Tortorella still a relevant coach? Does he really make the Columbus Blue Jackets better?
He certainly seems like a better fit in Columbus than Vancouver, but who’s to say that means the Blue Jackets will be glad that they made this move?
Well, there’s a significant group of bystanders who are happy Torts is back: many in the media … and many who like to rubberneck at his hilarious dealings with the media and opponents.
The video above collects some of his greatest outbursts.
Here’s hoping he adds plenty more with the Blue Jackets.
It’s something that’s faded just a touch, but one might notice that more than a few New York Rangers made their way to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
At this time, it doesn’t appear that one of their most blustery faces in recent memory – former head coach John Tortorella – will be taking up residence in Ohio.
That goes for the rest of the NHL’s struggling teams, too.
The Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline floated a rather interesting nugget on Saturday: teams aren’t calling the Vancouver Canucks to receive permission to inquire about Tortorella:
Torts made quite the show about focusing on helping the U.S. on the international level, and here’s one clear reason (*cough* money *cough*) to see why he may be inclined to wait for the absolute perfect offer:
So, there you go. At the moment, no one’s asking about Torts.
Let’s admit that it would be fun to return his fiery spectacle to the headlines, and Columbus would rank as maybe the most bizarre locale (imagine him hugging it out with Brandon Dubinsky?).
The above at the moment is there for a reason: it’s dangerous to rule out much of anything, especially with a team in an increasingly desperate situation like Columbus.
Just look at how happy Todd Richards is to sleep:
The other bit of Blue Jackets news today is a bit off the beaten track, but still not very promising:
It’s official: John Tortorella is Team USA’s head coach for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.
“We’re excited to have John as head coach of our World Cup team,” said Los Angeles Kings and Team USA GM Dean Lombardi, per USA Hockey. “He knows what it takes to win at the highest level and I know that our entire management group looks forward to working with him and his staff.”
Tortorella has won 446 NHL games — more than any other American coach — and is a Stanley Cup champion. However, he was relieved of his duties with the New York Rangers in 2013 and his attempt to extend his career with the Vancouver Canucks ended disastrously.
As previously noted though, he does have experience when it comes to representing America in both the Worlds and Olympics. It’s also possible that the World Cup will favor bench bosses that aren’t currently employed by an NHL team, as seems to be the implication after the selection of Tortorella and Ralph Krueger as Team Europe’s head coach.
At the least, this gives him a stage to show that he can still be an effective bench boss.