Tha Sports Junkies 101

Tortorella on the road to redemption

clyde via Flickr


On October 13, 2016, John Tortorella was possibly the most scrutinized and hated coach in all of the hockey world. He led Team USA to an embarrasing showing at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, where not only did the Americans not pick up a win, they did not pick up a single point in the standings in a group that was tailored for them to make the knockout stage with ease.

His NHL reputation wasn’t much better, as his time as the bench boss of the Columbus Blue Jackets was not of to a roaring start, as he held a 34-33-8 record in the 75 games he coached in the 2015-2016 season. Prior to that, he had a disastrous season with the Vancouver Canucks after being fired from the New York Rangers, which trampled his reputation.

The 2016-2017 season didn’t start right either. The season started off with the Blue Jackets being embarrassed on home ice, losing 6-3 to the Boston Bruins. The Blue Jackets finished the month of October at 3-4-1, and the month ended with a 4-0 win over the Anaheim Ducks.

Since then, it’s been sunshine and daisies for the once-forgotten NHL franchise

The Blue Jackets have lost a total of four games since October, and only one of the regulation variety. Tortorella’s grinding, shot-blocking, lack-of-offense system has been pouring in goals, most notably the 10-0 shellacking the Blue Jackets handed out to the Montreal Canadiens on November 4. The Blue Jackets score the second most goals per game (3.44), only trailing the Pittsburgh Penguins by one-thousandths of a goal per game. The large amount of goals hasn’t led the Jackets to drift away from the Tortorella system, as they allow the fewest goals per game in the league (2.02).

Oh, and not to mention, the Blue Jackets are currently on a 16-game win streak.

When looking at the Blue Jackets, they are the perfect team. A good group of young talent, with veterens to lead the team while pitching in every once in a while, plus a goaltender that is on fire. Cam Atkinson, a sixth-round pick in 2008, leads the team in points with 38 points. Behind Atkinson is Alexander Wennberg at 34 points, who was the 14th overall pick in the 2013 draft. Brandon Saad is making major contributions, just like the Blue Jackets hoped he would when they traded for him in the summer of 2015. Even Sam Gagner, who had been considered a bust since he was drafted sixth overall in 2007, has pitched in 28 points in 35 games played. Sergei Bobrovski has rebounded from a couple of struggling seasons to post a 25-5-2 record with a 1.92 GAA and a .934 save percentage.

The Blue Jackets take on the Washington Capitals tonight as they look to match the longest win streak in NHL history, set by the 1992-1993 Penguins. With a win, Tortorella can further cement why he is still one of the best coaches in the league. While his style, and comments, are controversial and considered out of touch, he has consistently lead teams to great success. One knock on him is that he has only won a single Stanley Cup with all of the talent, but if he can lead this Blue Jackets team to championship glory, he could go down as one of the greatest coaches to ever be behind an NHL bench.

It doesn’t seem too far fetched. He has a great group of young talent that is producing, along with veterans that know what it takes to win playoff games like Scott Hartnell and Brandon Dubinsky. Plus, Saad has won two Stanley Cups with the Chicago Blackhawks, and that experience is valuable to a younger team such as this. And while Tortorella has only grabbed one ring, he has won plenty of playoff games, 43 to be exact.

This is a dream season that is being put together by the Columbus Blue Jackets. While it is impossible to think that they will win out, they have a great chance to be a top seed in the Eastern Conference. A deep playoff run, and more importantly a Stanley Cup, will help Tortorella’s reputation. He has quickly become a pariah in the hockey world, as his crazy antics have rubbed people the wrong way since he hasn’t produced the results in the past two seasons.

But once again, Torts has worked his magic to quickly rise the Blue Jackets from basement-dweller doormats to the leaders of the NHL.