The Columbus Blue Jackets season has ended, and so has John Tortorella’s tenure as head coach. Aaron Portzline of The Athletic reports that Tortorella, whose contract expires at the end of this season, will not return for 2021-22.
Portzline adds that “all indications suggest” that the veteran coach wants to continue running a bench in the NHL, meaning there is suddenly a very experienced option on the market. Tortorella sits 12th on the all-time list for NHL games coached with 1,383. One more full season would put him into the top eight, passing Mike Keenan (1,386), Pat Quinn (1,400), Ron Wilson (1,401), and Dick Irvin (1,449). He has won the Jack Adams award twice, one of only four coaches to win it with two different teams.
It’s been six full seasons for Tortorella in Columbus, with him taking over in 2015-16 and leading the Blue Jackets to the postseason four times. This season has been very different, however, with the Blue Jackets winning just 18 of 56 games and finishing behind the rebuilding Detroit Red Wings. It’s been a season full of headlines, with Pierre-Luc Dubois forcing his way out of Columbus, while Tortorella clashed with newcomers Patrik Laine and Max Domi. Big changes appear imminent for the Blue Jackets, who already sold off Nick Foligno and David Savard at the deadline, among others.
Even though it has been clear for a while that Tortorella likely wasn’t being brought back, there has still been no official announcement from the Blue Jackets. Whenever it comes, there will be plenty of accolades heaped on Tortorella’s time in Columbus. His numbers for the organization dwarf those of Ken Hitchcock, Todd Richards and Dave King, the only three other coaches who have been behind the bench for at least 200 Columbus games. Tortorella’s tenure ends with 447 games coached and a 227-166-54 record. He has been the coach in 31 of the Blue Jackets' 41 postseason appearances.