John Tortorella signed a two-year contract extension Wednesday to remain coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets. It takes effect at the end of this season and runs through 2020-21.
“I really appreciate the opportunity given to me to continue to keep working with this team,” Tortorella said at the Blue Jackets media day luncheon. “We’re not only developing as players, we’re developing as a coaching staff working with Jarmo and his staff. I appreciate the opportunity and some loyalty, too, that allows me to continue to work with the club.
“All around, I’m really happy about it because I really like the team. That’s the most important thing about it, the players. I really like the group we have. I really like some of the things we can add to it, some of the kids that are coming through, and to be part of that I feel very fortunate.”
No details on Tortorella’s contract were released by the Blue Jackets; they also did not release details of multiyear contract extensions for president of hockey operations John Davidson or general manager Jarmo Kekalainen on Sept. 6. Also, assistant GM Bill Zito agreed to an extension and was promoted to associate GM.
Davidson, Kekalainen and Zito joined Columbus between October 2012 and August 2013. Tortorella was hired to replace Todd Richards seven games into the season on Oct. 21, 2015.
Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno said he sees Tortorella’s contract extension as a sign of stability.
“We have something pretty special here,” Foligno said. “I always say what I’m impressed most about is Jarmo, Billy, [Davidson] especially because he’s the top, and now with [Tortorella] and the coaching staff, is that we’re doing this together.
“You’re not thinking, ‘What is Coach thinking?’ [or] ‘What is management thinking?’ We know. They’re outstanding at keeping us informed, the dialogue that goes on, the communication, because everyone feels like we’re doing this together, we’re in this together. That’s how you really grow as an organization and a team and get to where we want to go, which is to win the Stanley Cup.”
Tortorella, 60, is 129-87-23 in four seasons with the Blue Jackets and the winningest coach in their history. He won the Jack Adams Award as NHL coach of the year for the second time in 2016-17 after the Blue Jackets had the best record in their history (50-24-8), including a 16-game winning streak from Nov. 29, 2016-Jan. 3, 2017. The streak was one win shy of the NHL record of 17, set by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1992-93.
“On a personal note for my wife (Christine) and I, we’re thrilled,” Tortorella said. “We love the area. We’re involved in the area. We’ve met some great people and we feel part of it.”
Tortorella ranks 19th in wins on the NHL all-time coaching list. He’s 575-462-101 with 37 ties in 1,175 games with the New York Rangers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Vancouver and Blue Jackets. He won the Stanley Cup with the Lightning in 2003-04 and is the winningest United States-born coach in NHL history.
Defenseman Seth Jones said he appreciates Tortorella’s directness and candor.
“The one thing I love about [Tortorella] is he’s never going to lie to you,” Jones said. “He’s always going to tell you how it is and what he’s thinking. To some people they may think that’s a bad thing sometimes, but I think it’s a great thing.
“Not just me, but anyone on our team can go into his office any day during the season and ask how you’re playing or ‘What do you think of this?’ It’s great that he pushes everybody every day throughout the season to be the best we can be.”