Tortorella’s contract expires this summer. The Blue Jackets concluded their season on Saturday after a 5-4 overtime win over the Detroit Red Wings. The team finished last in the Central Division with an 18-26-12 record and will miss the playoffs for just the second time in Tortorella’s six seasons.
Tortorella, 62, will have a number of chances if he decides to return to an NHL bench next season with Vancouver, Montreal, Detroit and Buffalo among the non-head coach teams signed for next season. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports that two-time winner Jack Adams has no plans to retire.
Tortorella was hired by Columbus at the start of the 2015-16 season, but it was in his second season that the success began. In 2016-17, he led the Blue Jackets to their best campaign in franchise history with 50 wins and 108 points. This season began a streak of four straight playoff appearances highlighted by a stunning sweep from the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2018-19. Tortorella will leave Columbus as the winningest coach in franchise history, going 227-166-54 in the regular season and 13-18 in the playoffs.
However, that past success could not be replicated this season. In addition to the struggles brought on by the pandemic, the Blue Jackets have struggled to score goals this season – tied with the Buffalo Sabers for 29th overall with 2.39 goals per game. Injuries to key contributors including Zach Werenski and Boone Jenner, along with trade deadline changes that saw Nick Foligno and David Savard move, have seen the Blue Jackets win just four of their last 19 games.