Winning a second Jack Adams Award can change a coaching career. For John Tortorella, it validated his comeback and showed just valuable he is to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
As the Blue Jackets head coach enters the last season of his contract, a priority for the team will be extending him to a brand new deal -- but that could prove difficult considering the recent spending boom for NHL head coaches.
The Columbus Dispatch's Aaron Portzline talked about the road ahead for both the Blue Jackets and Tortorella as they try to navigate muddy waters.
Tortorella’s situation bears watching. He’s entering the final year of his contract, a five-year, $10 million deal signed with Vancouver in 2013. Since the Blue Jackets hired him in October 2015, they’ve paid only $750,000 of his $2 million annual salary, with the Canucks picking up the rest. In other words, the Blue Jackets have been paying less for their coach than just about any other team in the NHL. Even the $2 million figure puts him only in the middle of the pack, but that’s about to change.
… The Blue Jackets, who have never paid more than $1.5 million for a coach (Ken Hitchcock), might need to pay Tortorella $3.5 million or more per season to keep him. But these negotiations are no longer simple. It’s possible that Tortorella, who declined to discuss his contract, will go into the season without an extension in place.
That would be one substantial pay raise for Tortorella if he ends up taking the standard market price. Whether or not you agree, Tortorella has the coaching hardware to back up any demands.
As Puck Daddy's Greg Wyshynski interestingly notes, the Blue Jackets do have an ace up their sleeve when it comes to these negotiations.
Let’s face it: John Davidson, president of the Jackets, tossed a life preserver to Tortorella after what was, at the time, the biggest professional embarrassment of his career in Vancouver. (Later trumped by Team USA flopped in a World Cup tournament constructed so they’d meet Canada in the final on ESPN.)
The Blue Jackets had a dream season in 2016-17 and they had plenty of things go right for them. Tortorella's ascension was one of them, and now, they'll need to pay up to keep his services.
A small market team can't spend like other franchises, and that puts the Blue Jackets at a decided disadvantage. The team can't miss on a decision as big as this and for as much as he has changed, a volatile personality like Tortorella makes for a somewhat risky investment.
Putting him in a pay tier with Mike Babcock and Claude Julien isn't that ridiculous thought when stacking up coaching records against one another. The solution is to find a middle ground that would make both sides happy in a no-win situation between head coach and management.