John Tortorella was about to head into training camp as a “lame duck” coach, but the Columbus Blue Jackets made sure that that wouldn’t be the case.
On Wednesday morning, the Blue Jackets announced that they had signed their head coach to a two-year extension. The new deal will keep him behind Columbus’ bench through the 2020-21 season. Could you imagine how awkward it would have been for reporters to continuously ask Tortorella about being the final year of his contract? Uncomfortable situation avoided!
Despite not having much success in the playoffs under Tortorella, the Jackets have still put together some impressive seasons. And whether hockey fans like it or not, that counts for something.
“Our team has been one of the winningest in the NHL over the past two seasons and John Tortorella has played a critical role in that success and in raising the level of our team’s play since his arrival,” GM Jarmo Kekalainen said in a release. “His passion and commitment to being the best has permeated our team and we believe will lead to even greater success in the future.”
Further to last Tweet …
Put another way, since the puck dropped on Oct. 7, 2000, the Blue Jackets have never gone more than two years, 11 months without firing their coach or general manager.
Kekalainen has been in place since Feb. 14, 2013.
Tortorella since Oct. 21, 2015.
— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) September 12, 2018
The Jackets have won 95 games over the last two years. In each of those seasons, they flamed out of the playoffs rather quickly, as they dropped an opening-round series to the eventual Stanley Cup champions (Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals). Of course, the 60-year-old took home the Jack Adams Award for his team’s 50-win effort during the 2016-17 season.
You’d have to think that the team would have to have some kind of success in the playoffs if Tortorella is going to stick around throughout the whole length of the contract (or if he wants to earn another extension eventually).