This post is part of Blue Jackets Day on PHT…
John Tortorella has had success as a head coach in the NHL, but his last few stints behind the bench haven’t gone according to plan.
Tortorella, now 58, will have the unenviable task of turning around a Blue Jackets team that he helped guide to the fourth-worst record in the league one season ago.
Can the Jackets bounce back next season? Is Torts the right man to get this thing turned around? That remains to be seen, but getting the Jackets back on the rails won’t be easy.
“When you’re finished April 9 and you’re not playing in the real stuff (playoffs), I would think there would be some disappointment,”said Tortorella, per the team’s website. “I feel like I’ve let the organization down. I don’t feel like I’ve done enough to get this straightened out.”
In all fairness to Torts, Columbus was 0-7 when he took over for Todd Richards on Oct. 21. He led the team to a 34-32-8 record. This year, he’ll have the opportunity to go through camp with his squad, which should make things easier.
It’ll be interesting to see if the structure and gritty style that Tortorella deploys will eventually mesh with the players he has at his disposal.
The Jackets haven’t made many changes this off-season. Outside of the players they drafted in June, they really just added Sam Gagner in free agency. The boost Tortorella will be looking for might come from the farm.
The Lake Erie Monsters took home the Calder Cup in 2016 and several of the players from that team could make the jump to the NHL in 2016-17.
“Those guys took huge steps,” said GM Jarmo Kekalainen. “That gives them the type of experience they need to compete for an NHL spot and to make an impact on our team.”
Youngsters like Zach Werenski, Sonny Milano, Oliver Bjorkstrand and 2016 draft pick Pierre-Luc Dubois could be in Columbus come mid-October. Maybe a youthful spark could push the Jackets back into the playoff picture next April.