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Blue Jackets fire Richards, hire Tortorella

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Wednesday, October 21, 2015, 10:30 AM

John Tortorella is an NHL head coach once again.Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press, AP

The five letters that once defined Rangers hockey for better or worse are returning to an NHL bench.

Torts is back.

Wednesday morning, the Columbus Blue Jackets fired coach Todd Richards following an 0-7-0 start and hired John Tortorella, 57, to replace him. Tortorella is making a big comeback to the game, after being named as head coach of the United States’ 2016 World Cup of Hockey team last month, as well.

TSN first reported Richards’ firing and Tortorella’s hiring.

RELATED: TORTORELLA GETS PRANKED ON USA HOCKEY CALL

Richards was canned because the Blue Jackets had their highest expectations ever this season after getting healthy and acquiring forward Brandon Saad from the Chicago Blackhawks. But his players haven’t responded, most of all former Vezina Trophy winning goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who has a 5.07 goals against average and .835 save percentage.

Tortorella’s relationship with Blue Jackets president John Davidson, a former Rangers goaltender and analyst, contributed to the opportunity. He is back after spending a much-needed full season out of the league.

Tortorella is the winningest American-born coach in NHL history with 446 career wins. He led the Tampa Bay Lightning to the 2004 Stanley Cup, winning the Jack Adams trophy, and turned the Rangers around to a 2012 Eastern Conference finals berth.

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But Tortorella’s relentless, overbearing style wore on the Rangers players, and due to those frayed relationships, GM Glen Sather fired him following a dismal five-game, second-round defeat to the Boston Bruins in 2013.

Tortorella resurfaced immediately with the Vancouver Canucks the following season, but he was fired for the second time in less than a year after another disaster season, this time in Western Canada.

Tortorella’s low moment occurred in January 2014 when he tried to enter the Calgary Flames’ visiting locker room to fight head coach Bob Hartley and his staff at first intermission. Flames players intervened and Tortorella was suspended for 15 days without pay.

What Tortorella needed after being fired by the Rangers was a year off. He didn’t get that, and everyone saw the effects in Vancouver. His coaching record speaks for itself, though, and clearly Columbus considers any answer a better response than the one it has right now.

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john tortorella ,
columbus blue jackets

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