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.”