Tortorella missing NHL All-Star Game after son’s dog falls ill; Gretzky will coach in his absence

FILE - In this Oct. 8, 2016, file photo, Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella, center, talks with linesman Brad Kovachik (71), with Scott Hartnell, left, listening during the first period of a preseason NHL hockey game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh. Tortorella has returned to Ohio because of a family emergency, keeping him out of both Thursday night's game with Nashville and the NHL All-Star Game this weekend. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The AP is reporting Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella will miss the NHL All-Star Game because a pit bull belonging to his son, Nick, is ailing.

Tortorella earned the chance to coach the Metropolitan Division team during the Blue Jackets’ remarkable unbeaten run. Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky will coach at the All-Star Game, according to NHL.com. Gretzky is the leading scorer in NHL history, with more goals and assists than any other player.

Tortorella also missed the Jackets’ Thursday night game. Assistant coaches Brad Larsen and Brad Shaw are filling in until Tortorella returns.

“I appreciate everyone who has reached out to me this evening with their concerns about my family,” Tortorella said in a statement Thursday night. “My family is fine. We are just dealing with a situation that is personal and very important to us, but I will leave it at that. I’ll be back with the team very soon.”

Nick Tortorella is a member of the U.S. Army 75th Ranger Regiment, according to an NHL.com article. 

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