Whatever Happened To: Ron Tugnutt, The First Starting Goalie In Columbus Blue Jackets History?

By Ed Francis on December 3, 2020 at 1:20 pm
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The Hockey Writers

While we wait on the Columbus Blue Jackets 20th NHL season to begin, 1st Ohio Battery is revisiting some of the names from the early years in franchise history, but with a twist: what happened to these guys after they said goodbye to Columbus?

Today: Ron Tugnutt

After two full seasons in a Blue Jackets sweater, Tugnutt was dealt to the Dallas Stars in exchange for a first round draft pick (that was traded, as well). 

"Tugger" played sporadically over two seasons with the Stars, which was be his last two as an NHL goalie. He appeared in 42 games, posted an 18-17-5 record, but had a still-impressive 2.45 goals against average, well below his career average of 3.05 and slightly better than his 2.62 mark during his 97 games as a Blue Jacket.

Following the 2003-04 season, Tugnutt called it a career and announced his retirement. He was set to join the booth for the CBC's Hockey Night In Canada, but the nearly year-long NHL lockout that wiped out the entire 2004-05 season put a hold on that move.

When the lockout ended, Tugnutt spent just one season working with the CBC before getting back to organizational hockey. This time though, it was as goalie consultant for the Hockey Canada. Helping develop coaches and players alike, he worked closely with several Canadian national teams, particularly with young players. 

The former Blue Jacket served as a goalie consultant for both Canada's National Junior Team in 2010 and the IIHF World Junior Championship a year later. 

Following a couple of brief coaching stints - one with the OHL's Oshawa Generals and another with the Peterborough Peters, he would take on a new venture: owning a team. 

Along with his wife Lisa, the Tugnutt's would run the Kemptville 73's, a Canadian Junior "A" team in the Central Canada Hockey League. His sons, Jake and Matt, were part of the 73's roster, and it became an opportunity for the entire family. 

During the four years of ownership by the Tugnutt's, the 73's qualified for the postseason in three out of four years, though advanced only once during that time. In May of 2017, the Tugnutt's relinquished ownership of the team. 

Today, the Tugnutt's are still living in Ontario and Tugnutt remains loyal to the Ottawa Senators, where he spent four of his best seasons as a goalie.