via Werenski's Twitter feed

Zach Werenski shares battle scars in selfie, gains Tortorella’s (colorful) praise


Zach Werenski‘s horrifying wound might just unseat Taylor Hall‘s grotesque injury and Logan Couture‘s damaged mouth as the grossest hockey wound in recent memory.

If nothing else, Werenski gets the edge over Hall because that wounded moment came in the playoffs.

Werenski returned briefly (following a scary, bloody moment) during the Columbus Blue Jackets’ eventual 5-4 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, but couldn’t return during OT. The reason why? He basically couldn’t see out of his right eye, as’s Nick Cotsonika and others report.

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We already saw some in-game evidence of the gore when he was able to come back but Werenski himself posted evidence that it (gag) got a lot worse.

As a comparison, here’s before the swelling got out of control:

To little surprise, Werenski’s willingness to battle through the injury as much as possible gained the respect of his Columbus Blue Jackets teammates:

To even less surprise, John Tortorella provided the money quote:

Oh, Torts. Never change. (Note: he might not even change the way he flatters … brave people.)

As a reminder, there’s still some debate surrounding the goal counting after Werenski was injured.

You’re unlikely to hear any quibbling about the rookie defenseman’s toughness, however … especially in the Blue Jackets’ locker room.

Tortorella says attitude change a key to Blue Jackets’ turnaround


There has not been a bigger surprise in the NHL this season than the sudden and drastic one-year turnaround of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

After finishing with one of the NHL’s worst records a season ago, the Blue Jackets have done a complete 180 and will finish the 2016-17 season with one of the NHL’s best records thanks in part to a 16-game winning streak earlier in the year. It is already the best season in the history the Blue Jackets when it comes to regular season record.

In an interview with Kathryn Tappen, coach John Tortorella attributed that turnaround to a number of different variables, including an infusion of young talent (specifically Zach Werenski, Alex Wennberg), a pretty good goaltender (Sergei Bobrovsky, a top Vezina Trophy contender this season) and an attitude change in how the team approaches its business.

“I think the biggest reason, I think we have just kind of changed our attitude a little bit, and approaching it one day at a time, and more business-like on how we go about doing our business,” said Tortorella. “And let’s face it, we added some talent to our group, some young kids that can play. It’s just been a process of just taking it one day at a time, not looking behind us, not looking forward, just concentrating on that particular day. And a pretty good goaltender, too.”

You can catch all of Tappen’s interview with Tortorella in the video above and get his thoughts on the Blue Jackets’ season to this point, as well as their chances in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

This will be the Blue Jackets’ third trip to the playoffs in franchise history and their first since the 2013-14 season.

They will face the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round with the Penguins have home ice advantage.

The Blue Jackets close out the regular season with a pair of games this weekend, playing the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday afternoon at 12:30 p.m. ET then taking on the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday at 6 p.m. ET.

Diverted flight really triggered Tortorella’s fear of flying


The way Columbus Blue Jackets executive John Davidson tells it, the Columbus Blue Jackets needing to divert their flight to Chicago was just a matter of following “protocol.”

He informed the Columbus Dispatch’s Tom Reed that no one was losing their cool.

“Not at all, honest to God,” Davidson said. “They said everything was fine. I wouldn’t (BS) you. It was actually quite normal. They would rather go back than have an issue.”

John Tortorella … well, he tells a different story to Aaron Portzline of the Dispatch:

Portzline notes that Tortorella has a fear of flying … so you can understand why he said that he (figuratively?) soiled himself.

On the bright side, such talk makes you think that Torts and his former goalie Roberto Luongo could find common ground.

Tortorella was irate after Roman Polak boarded Oliver Bjorkstrand


John Tortorella was left enraged after Roman Polak delivered a dangerous boarding hit on Oliver Bjorkstrand, and he probably wasn’t too pleased after the Columbus Blue Jackets failed to make Toronto pay for Polak’s misdeeds.

Polak received a game misconduct and boarding major for the hit, but the Blue Jackets failed to score on a lengthy power play. Tortorella played to script, as cameras caught him expressing his anger at the situation.

First, take a look at the hit:

Next, behold Tortorella’s anger:

Again, Columbus couldn’t capitalize on its opportunities, so that didn’t make things any better.

Right now, the Maple Leafs lead the Blue Jackets 3-2. If Toronto ends up winning, this will stand as one of the game’s pivotal moments.

It’s far from the only exciting moment, however, with these goals and big hits also standing out.

Tortorella would like to see more legends coach in All-Star Game


There was an unexpected change to the 2017 All-Star Game when Wayne Gretzky, the NHL’s all-time leading scorer and arguably its greatest player ever, ended up coaching the Metropolitan Division team as a replacement for Columbus Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella.

Tortorella was unable to attend the festivities over the weekend due to a personal matter.

With Tortorella unavailable, we had a chance to see Gretzky coach two of the games best players (Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin) in the All-Star game and it seemed to be a pretty big success.

One person that wants to see more of that in the future? Tortorella.

“I’ll tell you, it turned out to be something really good to have Wayne Gretzky on the bench,” Tortorella told Tom Reed of the Columbus Dispatch following their return from the break.

“Maybe it’s a little bit of a message to the league. That’s what should happen, because the boys had a blast. Maybe that’s the way you go. I don’t want to dictate policy to the league, but that was a pretty cool thing.”

It was a pretty cool thing, and it probably wouldn’t be the worst idea to experiment with in the future. And if there is anything we know about the NHL when it comes to All-Star games, it is a league that is not afraid to experiment given the different formats it has tried over the years. The current 3-on-3 format seems to be the best and most popular of the bunch.

The one problem it might create is that even though there are probably a few coaches that would rather have the break to themselves, there are also certainly some that would love the opportunity to take part in the weekend that would miss out on it. Like Minnesota Wild coach Bruce Boudreau, for example.

Boudreau, the coach of the Central Division team at the 2017 game, seemed to be legitimately thrilled to be a part of it and called it a “tremendous honor” and admitted that he was “probably way more excited than I should be” to coach in the game.