Torts calls Jackets ’embarrassing’ and ‘weak mentally,’ blasts veteran leaders

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Looks like John Tortorella’s found a new target in Columbus.

After the club’s third straight loss on Sunday — a 3-2 defeat in Florida — Tortorella called the team “embarrassing” before laying into his veterans for a perceived lack of leadership.

“I’m not getting squat from the top players as far as that stuff,” he said, per the Columbus Dispatch. “I see weakness. I think we’re weak mentally, and it’s not the kids.

“I worry about the kids getting into bad habits by watching other people.”

Presumably, Tortorella was referring to — at least in part — the penalties taken in Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the Lightning, a game that Columbus actually led 2-1 before Tampa ripped off three unanswered goals, all on the power play, in just over eight minutes in the second period.

Things weren’t much better on Sunday, as the Jackets sent the Panthers to the power play six times (which included three minor penalties in the final eight minutes of the first period).

As it stands, Columbus now leads the NHL in minor penalties (157) and total penalty minutes (518).

Scott Hartnell, one of the oldest and most experienced guys on the team, is a prime culprit here. He’s of the NHL most frequent sin bin visitors (sitting seventh with 69 PIM), and was tossed from Saturday’s game for charging Bolts goalie Ben Bishop.

More: Torts explains why Hartnell was a healthy scratch

While these latest quotes might be harsh, they aren’t super surprising, as Tortorella hasn’t been shy in challenging veterans this season.

In addition to Hartnell, the likes of Fedor Tyutin, Cam Atkinson and Dalton Prout have all been healthy scratched this season. He’s also done the same with “young veterans” Ryan Murray and, most notably, Ryan Johansen.

These aren’t the only problems Columbus has had in terms of leadership, though. Team captain Nick Foligno has been out of the lineup since Dec. 19 with an injury.

That’s only further exacerbated CBJ’s lack of veteran authority, at least according to Tortorella, who finished his rant by saying Columbus is getting “nothing” in the leadership department right now.