John Tortorella Says He's Got A Lineup In Mind For The Blue Jackets' Qualifying Round Series Against The Maple Leafs

By Rob Mixer on June 14, 2020 at 9:05 am
Columbus Blue Jackets center Alexandre Texier (42) skates with the puck in the third period against the Ottawa Senators at the Canadian Tire Centre.
Aaron Doster – USA TODAY Sports

You didn't think John Tortorella was bored, did you?

The momentum is building league-wide as the NHL and its players' association move closer to a formal agreement on their 24-team "Return To Play" tournament.

Earlier this week, we got word that training camps are slated to open July 10.

It sounds like, in talking to sources around the league, that the tournament could begin the first week of August. The Blue Jackets, as you know, are going to play a best-of-five "qualifying round" series against the Toronto Maple Leafs, and Tortorella has spent the last couple of weeks game-planning for Game 1. 

"I have a lineup that I foresee," Tortorella told Carpenter and Rothman on 97.1 FM. "Some guys may play themselves in, (and) a couple guys may play themselves off. I'm excited about the group that could be our team playing in August."

Tortorella expects to have a full complement of players, too. Seth Jones and Oliver Bjorkstrand, both rehabbing ankle injuries at the time of the league's pause, are expected ready for Game 1 against Toronto. They're taking part in thee Blue Jackets' small-group workouts in Columbus this week.

The same goes for Alexandre Texier, who isn't skating with the Phase 2 group yet, but all signs are pointing to him being ready to go, as well.

"I think (Texier) is going to be there. Tex is a player that we really think highly of," Tortorella said. "We have some competition coming into this here – and that's where I really get my blood going, just looking at our lineup."

Tortorella has delegated the on-ice coaching work in Phase 2 to assistant coaches Brad Larsen and Kenny McCudden. Once training camp begins, Tortorella will have 2-3 weeks to spend with the group.

"We're going to be an affiliate to them in the drills they want to do," he said. "There's just not a lot of things you can do (with limited players). You want to sink your teeth into it and get going here because you think of what's ahead, but we'll have to be patient as we go through."