Respect doesn't come easily in the National Hockey League.
Blue Jackets' head coach John Tortorella knows that from experience. Your play is what earns you respect, and the Blue Jackets' play at the end of last season certainly turned heads.
Despite sweeping Tampa Bay, the President's Trophy winners in the first round of the playoffs and taking a 2-1 series lead against Boston, the Stanley Cup runners-up, Tortorella still feels that the Blue Jackets don't have enough respect.
He sat down with The Athletic's Aaron Portzline to discuss.
"I thought we still saw that even going into the playoffs last year," said Tortorella. "I told our team this: I spent three days prior to the start of that Tampa series and nobody asked a question about Columbus...I don’t think people believed that the Columbus Blue Jackets were on the map, and I still don’t think we’re there. That’s a tremendous motivation for us."
While most people have written off the Blue Jackets entering the 19-20 season, Tortorella still believes in his guys. The critics talking will be motivation for the locker room, but the most important piece of the culture is how the Blue Jackets carry themselves.
He continued, "the most important part of our entry into this camp and into this season is how we carry ourselves. Do we have the right strut that we had during the playoffs, that little bit of “F--- you!”
"Do we have the right strut that we had during the playoffs, that little bit of “F--- you!”– John Tortorella
There's no doubt that the Blue Jackets found their swagger at the end of the regular season and throughout the playoffs. While some players chose to leave, that culture does not leave with them. It'll be instilled in every skater to suit up for the Blue Jackets this year.
Both Tortorella and GM Jarmo Kekalainen have repeated that they believe in the group they have right now. Only time will show the aptitude of this edition of the Blue Jackets, but one thing is for certain: they'll be exciting to watch.