It seemed more and more likely as the season went on, and we now have confirmation.
On Saturday, Aaron Portzline of The Athletic reported that John Tortorella will not be returning to Columbus to coach next season. After his contract expires in the summer, Tortorella will pursue other opportunities. The club confirmed Tortorella's departure on Sunday morning.
NEWS: #CBJ and head coach John Tortorella have mutually agreed to part ways.— CBJ Public Relations (@BlueJacketsPR) May 9, 2021
Tortorella is the winningest coach in team history, guiding the club to a 227-166-54 record (.568 points percentage) in 447 games over 6 seasons.https://t.co/KmK2cwJzUd
The club went 227-166-54 during his tenure, and went from a perennial basement-dweller to making the playoffs in four out of the last five years. This season was an anomaly, and his legacy shouldn't be tarnished by it.
Tortorella wouldn't comment on his future after the Blue Jackets' overtime win on Saturday night vs. the Red Wings, only saying that he and Jarmo Kekalainen would continue to have discussions. Despite that, the writing seemed to be on the wall for quite a while.
"For these guys here, I loved being with them and it was an honor get them and to watch them and be part of that," said Tortorella after the game. "(We) fell off the mountain this year and you’ve got to start over, so whatever happens, my relationship with those guys, it’s never going to change."
During his time in Columbus, Tortorella preached accountability, consistency, and perseverance as three virtues he wanted to see in his players. Throughout the years, the Blue Jackets became respected for the way they played, thanks to Tortorella's style.
"Torts and I have had numerous conversations throughout the season, and we have agreed that the time is right for both he and club to go our separate ways," said GM Jarmo Kekalainen in the statement released by the club this morning. "He is a great coach and his accomplishments with our club over the past six seasons speak for themselves. He has played an integral role in our success since his arrival, and we are extremely grateful for his passion and commitment to the Blue Jackets and our city. He was the right coach at the right time and helped us establish a standard that we will carry forward."
This seems like a mutual understanding to move on. The Blue Jackets are at a dire crossroads, with contract negotiations looming, three first-round picks, and a lack of offensive superpower. There will be a new man for the job, and it'll benefit every party involved.
"After discussion and consideration of the future direction of the team, Jarmo and I have come to a mutual agreement to part ways," said Tortorella in a statement. "I'd like to thank the Columbus Blue Jackets organization for the opportunity to coach this team and live in the great Columbus-area. It has been a privilege to work with the players, coaches and hockey operations staff, which is one of the best in the League. Also, I want to thank the CBJ fans and the community for the support they've given the team and for the work of the CBJ family in support of the community."
Thanks for the sweep over Tampa, countless tirades at referees, always-interesting press conferences, and everything else.
We'll miss you, Torts.