The Blue Jackets have made it to the postseason three consecutive years and have raised expectations, but the public view of head coach John Tortorella is teetering between the "right fit" and "overrated."
That's right. Despite the recent success Columbus has had, there are plenty of critics out there who believe Tortorella is, perhaps more simply, not a good fit for the Blue Jackets anymore. Whether that's fact or fiction can't be settled here, but the results speak for themselves; the Blue Jackets have never been more successful than under Tortorella's watch.
So, why does it feel like Tortorella is in the crosshairs these days?
Bobrovsky is easy to point out as a player who willed the team to victory on numerous occasions with his spectacular play in net the past three seasons.
Over the past couple of years the Jackets had been spoiled with the playmaking abilities of Panarin, a point-per game forward who was an essential piece to the top line.
Don't forget, at the trade deadline in 2019 the Jackets acquired Duchene, a player who's currently regarded as a No. 1 center.
Lack of playoff success
Despite defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round of the playoffs in 2019, Tortorella has never made it past the second round of the postseason during his tenure in Columbus and was eliminated in the opening round in 2017 and 2018, respectively. The second time was a six-game loss to Washington after the Blue Jackets had won the first two games on the road.
Ironically, Tortorella could become a victim of his own success. If the new roster struggles, things could get ugly quick due to expectations created by the previous three seasons. This result wouldn't come as a surprise, considering there's no surefire No. 1 goalie along with the notion of a few young prospects competing for ice time at forward.
Let's not forget, there's also the possibility that Tortorella once again gets a lot out of his players and leads the Blue Jackets to their fourth consecutive playoff appearance. You can bet he's already working on his "us against the world" approach for 2019-20, after the departures of Bobrovsky, Panarin and Duchene this summer.
Should the Blue Jackets be in the mix next spring, the approval for Tortorella would be overwhelming and he'd probably be a serious contender for a second Jack Adams Award (given to the top coach in the National Hockey League) with Columbus, and the third such honor of his career.
Whether it's fair or not, Tortorella will get a bulk of the praise or criticism for how the Blue Jackets perform in the 2019-20 season.