It was never made clear what was going to happen with John Tortorella and the Columbus Blue Jackets this offseason.
It began with talk of an extension, but the length and the money were going to be sticking points in the deal. Mike Babcock was paid a lot of money by the Toronto Maple Leafs ($6.25 million per season) and set the standard for future deals.
After a Jack Adams winning season for Tortorella, figuring out where he lands in the spectrum of coaches is a tough proposition.
Tortorella, while winning in every stop, has always worn out his welcome. He got the most that he could out of the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers while with them, but always left on less-than-grand terms.
Extending Tortorella was always going to happen. After being named the best coach in the league, the optics of not extending him would have been horrible. How the Blue Jackets went about it may have been the savviest move of their offseason.
Three of the most important Blue Jackets players will have contracts expiring at the end of 2018-19. Artemi Panarin, Zach Werenski, and Sergei Bobrovsky will all be looking for new contracts at that time. What the team does before that in the postseason will likely set the table for their collective deals.
Their supposed "all in" approach coincides with the end of these deals, and now, the end of the Tortorella contract. They have given a "prove it" deal to Tortorella to ensure that he is capable of staying with the team for the long haul and that his personality changes have stuck for good.
Only paying for one full season out of their own pocket, the Blue Jackets don't have much to lose and the risk is minimal. At worst, Tortorella knocks everyone's socks off again and he is given a mega deal on the same level as Babcock and Joel Quenneville. Not terrible for a premium level coach.
For now, the core and the coach are in place. Excellence is now being demanded and the clock is ticking.