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The John Tortorella era in Columbus is over.
Tortorella will not return as the Blue Jackets head coach, according to multiple reports, after their season ended on Saturday with them in last place in the Central Division (18-26-12.) The 62-year-old former Rangers coach was in the final year of his contract.
“It was awful,” Tortorella said of Columbus’ season, according to ESPN. “This one was a kick in the teeth for me. I struggle with it.”
Fans in Columbus chanted Tortorella’s name during his last game Saturday night, a 5-4 victory over the Red Wings.
The Blue Jackets went 227-166-54 in the regular season during Tortorella’s six seasons behind the bench. He led the franchise to its first-ever playoff series win in 2019, a stunning first-round sweep of the NHL-best Lightning.
Columbus had never made consecutive playoff appearances — and had only qualified twice in 14 seasons — before Tortorella’s arrival. He took them to the postseason in four straight seasons before this year’s dismal campaign.
Tortorella led the Lightning to its first Stanley Cup win in 2003-04. He replaced Tom Renney as Rangers coach in 2009 and made the playoffs four out of five times, including a conference finals loss to the Devils in 2012.
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