The Columbus Blue Jackets will soon be looking for a brand new head coach.
Although there has been no official announcement regarding the future of Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella, it now appears as though Tortorella has coached his final game for the Blue Jackets franchise. According to a breaking news report from Blue Jackets insider Aaron Portzline of The Athletic, Tortorella has decided to walk away from the team after coaching the Blue Jackets in their final game of the regular season on Saturday night.
The winningest coach in franchise history decided to move on when his contract expires this offseason, ending a six-year run in Columbus that included four playoff berths, the first playoff series win in franchise history, and some memorable and turbulent moments along the way.
Over the last several weeks and months there has been rampant speculation that Tortorella could be fired after public clashes with players like Pierre Luc Dubois and Patrik Laine, but based on tonight's report from Portzline it sounds more like it is Tortorella himself who has decided to walk away from the franchise. Tortorella largely helped the Blue Jackets overachieve during his tenure behind the team's bench, however the team has often struggled to retain their top talent over the years often losing key players to free agency. This no doubt was a point of frustration for the coach and this season, after effectively being forced into trading the aforementioned Dubois and completely upsetting the balance of the team, the Blue Jackets largely failed to deliver on the ice as well.
According to the insider Tortorella has already begun to inform certain players of his decision to move on at the end of the season and it would appear that general manager Jarmo Kekalainen has also been notified of the head coach's desire to leave the franchise after 6 largely successful years as the team's head coach.
The move will effectively make Tortorella a free agent at a time when many teams will be looking for a new coach, including most notably the Seattle Kraken expansion franchise that has yet to hire the first head coach in the history of their franchise. Whether or not Tortorella intends to come back and coach for another team however remains to be seen.