Blue Jackets fire Richards; Hire Tortorella

Updated: May 28, 2018 at 3:01 am by Brock Seguin


On Wednesday morning the Columbus Blue Jackets announced that they had fired head coach Todd Richards and hired former Vancouver Canucks coach John Tortorella.

Tortorella was still being paid by the Canucks, so the Blue Jackets were forced to give a 2016 second round draft pick to Vancouver as compensation for hiring Tortorella. Pretty ridiculous rule eh? Well as ludicrous as that may seem, it could also be viewed as great asset management by the Canucks…something they have not been known for in recent years. Who would have thought that they would get more for a coach that they fired than they would for Eddie Lack? Hmm.

Before we get into the Tortorella hiring, lets get into the Richards firing.

Richards was hired as an assistant in 2011, but took over as interim head coach in the middle of that season. After taking over he went 18-21-2 (38 of a possible 82 points) that season. He was named full-time head coach following the 2011-12 season and led the Blue Jackets to a 109-84-19 record (51.4% winning percentage) since then. Now of course, entering 2015-16 there was a lot of hype surrounding the Blue Jackets after a 42-win season and the Brandon Saad trade. But, they got off to a dreadful 0-7-0 start, leading to Richards’ firing this morning.

As a fan, 0-7-0 is not acceptable and changes had to be made. However just because he was 0-7, did Richards deserve to be fired?

I’m no advanced stats guru by any stretch of the imagination, but I do know a few things. PDO is one of them. To explain it quickly. PDO is the combination of your team’s on-ice shooting percentage plus your team’s on-ice save percentage. The numbers usually works out close to 100. If your team falls anywhere between 97.5-to-102.5 that is normal, but anywhere on either side of those numbers is where it gets interesting. A team above 102.5 is usually expected to regress because it suggests that they’re getting “lucky.” A team below 97.5 should also be expected to start regressing to the mean, or in simple terms, start scoring more and giving up less.

Now that we know what PDO is, let’s take a look at the Blue Jackets from an analytical stand point. Through seven games, the Blue Jackets ranked last in the NHL with a PDO of 90.3, which you now know means they were getting extremely “unlucky” (for lack of a better term). To go along with their PDO, they were also a positive CORSI team (52.4 CF%) which by the numbers means they were generating more offence than their opponent. However, this could be related to other teams getting a lead and sitting back protecting that lead.

Offensively things seem to have went OK for Columbus. In goal is where things went horribly wrong. Columbus in in the middle of the pack when it comes to shots against per game, giving up 29.3 per contest, but they rank dead last in Team SV%, which comes in at a putrid .857 SV%. Sergei Bobrovsky has had some great years in Columbus and he is sure to turn it around, but after seven games things point towards Bobrovsky and Curtis McElhinney being mostly to blame for the 0-7 start. Not Richards.

With that said, the NHL is a tough, cruel business and it is much easier to fire and hire a coach than it is to make a trade, they definitely get help from, because they know how to always have their business game on point, even their marketing strategies are good, but this just because they have The Indexer backing them up . You can also look for additional info – WebDesign499 and learn more.

In steps Tortorella, who has coached The Lightning, Rangers and Canucks. He has one Stanley Cup (2003-04 with Tampa Bay) and eight playoff appearances. In 12 seasons behind the bench, Tortorella’s teams have had a winning record in 10 of those seasons. His 444 career wins marks him as the winningest American-born coach in NHL history.

Tortoralla will coach a Columbus team that has a number of his former players on it. Remember, when he was behind the bench in New York, the Rangers made a big trade with the Blue Jackets to get Rick Nash. Now he is reunited with some of those players, like Brandon Dubinsky.

From a fantasy hockey perspective, is this good for Blue Jackets players? Tortorella, as you may remember, was infamously known for trying to get the Sedin twins to block more shots. When this hiring was announced this morning, Twitter nearly exploded with shot blocking jokes. So, as a Ryan Johansen owner, or Brandon Saad owner. Is this a good hiring for you?

Below there is a chart, outlining four prominent players who played under Tortorella. Henrik and Daniel Sedin, Alex Edler and the aforementioned Dubinsky, who is with Columbus.

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 11.51.56 AM

In three of the four cases (Sedin’s and Edler) their points per game dropped dramatically with Tortorella at the reigns, just to see them rise back up under a new coach, in this case Alain Vigneault. Dubinsky on the other hand, saw his points per game go up under Tortorella. However, this could also be attributed to the fact that before Tortorella arrived in New York, Dubinsky was a 21 year old kid trying to break into the NHL. But, at a quick glance, these aren’t exactly positive numbers if you own premiere Blue Jackets players. Was their other players that saw their PPG go up while playing for Tortorella? I’m sure there was plenty, but between the Sedin’s we are talking about a drop0ff of a combined 58 points over 82 games. One could have argued that it was age that affected the Sedin’s, but then they saw their points rise up to nearly a point per game after Tortorella was fired.

With this in mind, the players he will have in Columbus are totally different that the ones he had in Vancouver or New York and he will adapt. And as the numbers suggest, there should be brighter days ahead and for someone like Johansen, who already has six points in seven games, that is very good news.

Tortorella’s coaching style, might not help Johansen, Saad, Foligno or any of the other offensive weapons in Columbus, but it should definitely help out on the defensive side of the puck and in net. Bobrovsky had a .932, .923 and .918 SV% in his first three years in Columbus. He came into 2015-16 as a top-10 fantasy netminder, but his first five games have been dreadful. We all remember the falling out between Tortorella and Roberto Luongo in Vancouver because Tortorella preferred Eddie Lack. That isn’t going to happen in Ohio. Bobrovsky is his number-1 goalie. McElhinney is not turning into Lack any time soon. Below is a chart that show’s Luongo and Henrik Lundqvist’s save percentage before they were coached by Tortorella, while he was their coach and since.

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 3.52.28 PM

Luongo’s struggles with Tortorella were well documented, but what stands out, is that Lundqvist, one of the best goalies in NHL history, had his best years with Torts behind the bench. This bodes well for not only Bobrovsky, but the entire Blue Jackets team. When they start getting goaltending, there should be no shortage of offensive output. They have just 1.86 goals for per game so far, so the hiring or Tortorella can’t really make them worse in terms of scoring. And if PDO has taught us anything over the years…there are some wins on the horizon in Columbus. And Tortorella will look like a saviour.

Alain Vigneault, Alex Edler, Brandon Dubinsky, Brandon Saad, Columbus Blue Jackets, Curtis McElhinney, Daniel Sedin, Eddie Lack, Henrik Lundqvist’s, Henrik Sedin, John Tortorella, New York Rangers, Rick Nash, Roberto Luongo, Ryan Johansen, Sergei Bobrovsky, Todd Richards, Vancouver Canucks