John Tortorella has coached his final game for the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The expected outcome of a frustrating season became a reality not long after the Blue Jackets wrapped things up Saturday night with a 5-4 overtime victory against the Detroit Red Wings at Nationwide Arena – a game that included chants of “Tort-or-ella!” echoing through the building.
As first reported by The Athletic and confirmed by The Columbus Dispatch, Tortorella has decided to let his contract run out and move on to the next chapter, whatever it might include. The veteran bench boss ends his Blue Jackets tenure with the most coaching victories in franchise history (227), the lone playoff series victory in team history and he was a finalist for the Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s top coach twice in Columbus – winning the award in 2017 for the second time in his career.
Tortorella, 62, declined to confirm his departure during postgame comments Saturday, but spoke fondly about helping the Jackets change their culture and the core group of players who got that done – including Nick Foligno, Cam Atkinson, David Savard, Seth Jones, Zach Werenski, Boone Jenner and others.
Foligno and Savard are no longer around after trades took them each to playoff contenders, but others who were around for Tortorella’s arrival still play significant roles.
“I love the guys on the team,” Tortorella said. “I don’t want to separate anything, but the guys that we have been…