The Blue Jackets' next head coach was there all along.
Today, the club announced that Brad Larsen would take over the reigns from John Tortorella, becoming the eighth head coach in franchise history. Larsen has signed a three-year deal, so he'll be here through the 2023-24 season.
In his playing days, Larsen was a left winger. He played in 294 NHL games for Colorado and Atlanta, tallying 19-29-48. After he retired, Larsen jumped into coaching, joining the Blue Jackets organization as an assistant coach for the Springfield Falcons (AHL) in 2010. Then, he was named Springfield's head coach, and turned in two very impressive seasons at the helm from 2012 to 2014, going 92-45-15.
He was then promoted to the Blue Jackets, where he began his tenure as an assistant during the 2014-15 NHL season. Larsen served one year under Todd Richards, and then the next six were spent with John Tortorella.
"We underwent an exhaustive process in which we looked very closely at a number of outstanding candidates to be the next coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets and the one individual we kept coming back to throughout was Brad Larsen," said Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen. "Brad was one of the top young coaches in the American Hockey League when he joined our club as an assistant coach and over the past seven years has earned the respect of our players, staff and organization with his work ethic, hockey acumen and the way he treats people, and we couldn't be more pleased to introduce him as our next head coach."
There are pros and cons when you hire a coach from within versus someone outside the organization. One of the biggest pros that will come from this decision is familiarity. Most of the Blue Jackets roster next season will already know Larsen quite well, due to the length of time that he's spent with the organization. Jarmo Kekalainen knows him well, as does John Davidson. It'll likely be easy for the three of them to be on the same page as they progress through this new stage.
"Brad understands the standard that has been set here in recent years for how we expect to play on the ice and how we represent our city and fans off the ice," said club President of Hockey Operations John Davidson. "He shares our values and our vision for what it means to be a Blue Jacket and where we want to go as a franchise and is the right person to lead our team moving forward."