The Columbus Blue Jackets have had the worst possible start to the 2015-16 season. Not only were they pinned as a playoff contender this year, some had them down as a possible Stanley Cup dark horse. With all of that new hope, a fresh new star in Brandon Saad, everybody would have thought they would have been ready to meet those expectations… That certainly haven’t yet.
The Blue Jackets have been a ginormous disappointment. They’re now 0-7-0 after taking another beating at home to the New York Islanders last night, 4-0. This defeat didn’t just come with the usual moans and groans from all involved with Columbus. It came with the dismissal of their head coach, Todd Richards.
Todd Richards out in CBJ. Torts in.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) October 21, 2015
The guy replacing Richards is the overtly aggressive, unorthodox, in your face, Stanley Cup champion (Tampa Bay, 2004), John Tortorella. The 57 year-old leads American-born coaches with 446 career wins. He is also set to coach Team USA at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. For a heavily criticized guy, ‘Torts’ sure has a lot going for him. Perhaps it’s some of those idiotic moves he throws at teams like the ‘start the game with the 4th line and cause a brawl’ move, or the ‘force a way into the opposing team’s locker room’ style of coaching that people have had such a problem with.
Tortorella last coached in the National Hockey League in 2013-14, for the Vancouver Canucks, where he was fired after failing to get the team into the playoffs. Due to his appointment, the Canucks will receive a second-round draft pick from the Columbus Blue Jackets as compensation since Tortorella remained under contract there and was hired in-season. With that, he no doubt comes into Columbus with the expectation to start winning games, and turn the Jackets into the team they were supposed to be this year.
It’s a funny old situation, even if Columbus were sitting at an even 500., Todd Richards would most probably still be behind the bench. However, this hockey club really hasn’t got anything going. Even Brandon Saad, Stanley Cup champion last season, has just 4 points in seven games. They need to play through him, and he needs to step it up if this team has any hopes of stringing a few wins together.
Richards has a career coaching record of 204-183-37 with the Minnesota Wild and Blue Jackets. He took Columbus to the playoffs in 2014 for the second time in franchise history. They were defeated by the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games, then dropped down to 11th in the Eastern Conference standings the following season.
If a team later in the season comes in need of a head coach, there’s no doubt Todd Richards’ name will be frequently mentioned.
The Blue Jackets now sit bottom of the Eastern Conference, only seven games played, a lot of the season left. They have a new head coach and a new chance. But the fact they’ve been taken over by a new coach, doesn’t give them a chance to use that as an excuse. It’ll only take a couple of wins and people’s expectations will begin to rise once more, but they’ve got win a hockey game first. One win at a time.