Todd Richards Fired, John Tortorella Hired

The Columbus Blue Jackets seventh straight loss to start the 2015-16 season was the straw that broke the camel’s back. The Blue Jackets have reportedly fired head coach Todd Richards and are bringing in future U.S. National Team coach, John Tortorella to save their season, according to Darren Dreger.

Tuesday’s game, a 4-0 loss to the New York Islanders, saw the Blue Jackets outshoot the Islanders, but fail to execute. Down 1-0 in the third they had three power plays in the first seven minutes of the period, four power plays total in the period, and six in the game, yet failed to connect on any of the opportunities.

Richards coached the Jackets for three full seasons and a partial season back in 2011-12 when he started the season as an assistant coach following a two-year stint in Minnesota.

Richards brought the Jackets to the playoffs just one time, a first round exit where they were arguably the better team against the Pittsburgh Penguins. It was that run that instilled a lot of confidence in the team’s future. Last season’s miss felt like a fluke because of the enormous amount of man games lost to injury. That set the bar high for this season, with most assuming that last year’s miss wasn’t because of a dearth of talent.

Many analysts had the Blue Jackets as a bounce back team who would surprise and get themselves back into the playoffs, particularly after the acquisition of Brandon Saad over the summer. Instead the team has a league-worst -15 goal differential and a league-worst penalty kill.

Those combined with Sergei Bobrovsky’s .830 even strength save percentage, worst in the league no matter how many minutes a goaltender has played, sealed Richards fate. He’s the first coach of the 2015-16 season to lose his job.

Tortorella has been out of the league for a year following a disastrous one-year stint with the Vancouver Canucks, after which he was fired. Over the summer, he was named the coach of the U.S. National Team for the returning World cup of Hockey by U.S. GM Dean Lombardi. At that time he said teams hadn’t approached him about coaching and that he was happy to be in the position he was in.

Negotiations with Tortorella began yesterday, according to Elliotte Friedman, who also reports that Vancouver will still be paying a portion of his salary.

Tortorella is most winning American-born coach in history, with 446 wins.

(Above quote is from an Elliotte Friedman “30 Thoughts” column.)


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