COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Changes were inevitable. After an 0-7 start to the season, changes are coming to the Blue Jackets.
Columbus has fired head coach Todd Richards and replaced him with long-time NHL head coach John Tortorella. The news was first reported by TSN’s Darren Dreger and confirmed by the team just before 11 a.m. Wednesday.
The team held a press conference at 12:45 p.m. Wednesday to introduce the the new coach.
Richards led the CBJ to the Stanley Cup playoffs in 2013 and led an injury-riddled roster on a late-season charge last season. But despite building perhaps the most talented roster in team history, Columbus flopped early this season. The Jackets have been outscored 34-13 through 7 games this season, including a 4-0 defeat to the Islanders Tuesday night.
Tortorella has had numerous NHL head coaching stops, most recently in Vancouver. Known as a fiery, intense coach, he stands as a sharp contrast to Richards who took a measured, calm approach to leading the team.
Tortorella won a Stanley Cup while coaching the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004. He’s also spent time as coach of the Rangers and the Canucks.
A few Jackets fans told NBC4 their thoughts on Wednesday night in the Arena District. Heidi Callender said she thinks the team can pull through.
“I think we’re going to rally around them,” she said. “I think they’ll be fine.”
Dustin Leiss said the team’s tough start will be hard to overcome.
“I don’t think they’ll be able to make the playoffs, honestly. I’m rooting for it, but 0-7 is tough to come back from.”
Eric Mayville was focused on the Jackets’ new coach.
“Well I think Tortorella is grumpy, but I think we’re going in the right direction finally, which is nice,” he said.
The Jackets play in Minnesota Thursday night and it’s expected Tortorella will coach the team there.
Columbus plays 7 of its next 8 games on the road.