John Tortorella (born John Robert Tortorella on June 24, 1958 in Boston, Massachusetts) is the head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
John is known for his outspoken nature (such as criticizing his own players) and his unusual system of regularly rotating goaltending duities during his time with Tampa Bay (the system was later discontinued when he began coaching the New York Rangers & used Henrik Lundqvist as the team's regular starting goaltender).
Early Playing CareerEdit
For three years (from 1978 to 1981), John played right wing at the University of Maine of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) where he played with his brother Jim.
After completing college, he played in Sweden for a year in Kristianstads IK (from 1981 to 182) after which he came back to the United States to play four years of minor pro hockey (from 1982 to 1986) in the Atlantic Coast Hockey League (ACHL).
During these years, John skated with the Hampton Roads Gulls, Erie Golden Blades, Nashville South Stars and the Virginia Lancers.
During his days in the ACHL, Jhn briefly played with Oren Koules while with the Hampton Roads Gulls. He never played a game in the NHL.
John's coaching career began with the American Hockey League (AHL)'s Rochester Americans and the ECHL's Virginia Lancers.
He was also an assistant coach for the AHL's New Haven Nighthawks and Rochester Americans and the NHL's Buffalo Sabres, Phoenix Coyotes and New York Rangers.
John won the Calder Cup with the 1996 Rochester Americans.
Tampa Bay LightningEdit
John took over the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2000–01 as a mid-season replacement.
He inherited a team that had been among the dregs of the league for four years, having lost 50 games or more in every season during that time.
The team won only 12 of its last 43 games under his watch, finishing last in the division.
The following season, the team finished well out of playoff contention despite finishing third in the Southeast Division, however, they showed signs of life for the first time in five years, cracking the 60-point barrier for the first time since 1996-97.
The 2002–03 season marked John's first winning season as an NHL head coach, as the Lightning won their first Southeast Division title, losing to the New Jersey Devils four games to one in the second round of the 2003 playoffs.
At the end of the season he was also recognized as a finalist for the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year, losing out to the Minnesota Wild's Jacques Lemaire.
In 2003–04, John's fourth season with the team, the Lightning ran away with the Southeast Division title, tallying 106 points—the second-best record in the league.
The Lightning were the top seed in the Eastern Conference and proceeded to defeat the New York Islanders, the Montreal Canadiens, and the Philadelphia Flyers to win the Prince of Wales Trophy and the Eastern Conference Championship.
In the Stanley Cup Finals, they defeated the Western Conference champion Calgary Flames four games to three, winning the first Stanley Cup in franchise history.
In doing so John became just the third American-born coach to win it and the first in 13 years.
The team was in its eleventh year of existence. It was the last Stanley Cup won before the 2004-05 NHL lockout.
A few days after winning the Stanley Cup, John won the 2004 Jack Adams Award as coach of the year.
Before the start of the 2005–06 season (which was the NHL's first post-lockout campaign) Tampa Bay's starting goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin left the team due to the newly implemented salary cap restrictions.
Despite the Lightning winning a 2nd-team best 44 games in 2006–07, the Lightning were unable to defend their division title.
John was involved in controversy yet again after game five of Lightning's series against the New Jersey Devils during the 2007 Stanley Cup playoffs.
During a press conference during which John was visibly disappointed, he refused to answer questions directly, saying only, "We know what we did" each time a reporter asked a question.
When New York Post reporter Larry Brooks asked John, "What did you do?" he refused to explain.
Frustrated, Brooks eventually asked him, "Are you not answering questions, or what?" and when John answered that he was not, Brooks called the interview "'a waste of time."
Then, John then told Brooks to "get the fuck out of here" live on CBC television.
John was fined $10,000 by the NHL for negative comments that he made about the on-ice officials after a 4–3 overtime loss at the Atlanta Thrashers on November 19, 2007.
On March 11, 2008, (with the Lightning defeat of the New York Islanders), John passed Bob Johnson as the most successful American-born NHL coach with 235 victories.
After he left the Lightning, John was an in-studio panelist on the NHL on the TSN network.
During this time, on November 7, 2008, Peter Laviolette would overtake his victory total for an American coach.
New York RangersEdit
On February 23, 2009, John was named the head coach of the New York Rangers, replacing Tom Renney, who was relieved of his duties earlier that day.
On March 17, 2009, he again became the American-born coach with the most wins in NHL history, this time surpassing Peter Laviolette.
John was suspended one game by the NHL for an altercation with several Capitals fans behind the bench in the third period of Game 5 in the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Replays show the fan clearly heckling John through verbal jeering before he responded by throwing a water bottle at a fan before grabbing a stick from Aaron Voros and trying to spear the fan through a space between two panes of glass.
John receive a penalty on the play despite the fact that NHL rules state any physical altercations with fans result in ejection from a game; however, the next day, the NHL suspended him.
When Peter Laviolette became coach of the Philadelphia Flyers in 2009, the rivalry between the two teams became further heated with John and Peter being the U.S. born coaches with the most wins in NHL history.
In the 2011–12 season he guided the Rangers to the franchise's third ever 50-win season and the best record in the Eastern Conference with a total of 51-24-7 for 109 points, however New York lost in the Conference Finals to the New Jersey Devils in 6 games.
At season's end, John became a finalist for the Jack Adams Award for a 3rd time, but lost to Ken Hitchcock of the St. Louis Blues.
On March 26, 2013 with a 5-2 defeat of the Philadelphia Flyers, John became the first U.S.-born coach to reach 400 career victories.
On May 29, 2013, the Rangers fired John four days after the Rangers were eliminated from the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Boston Bruins.
On June 25, 2013, the Vancouver Canucks announced John as the team's new coach, replacing Alain Vigneault who coincidentally had been hired by the Rangers to replace John.
On October 5, 2013, he earned his first victory with the Canucks against the Edmonton Oilers with a final score of 6-2.
During the first intermission of a game on January 18, 2014, John entered the Calgary Flames dressing room area in an apparent attempt to confront the Flames coach Bob Hartley.
After a line brawl in the opening seconds of the 1st period, John angrily attempted to confront Bob, suspecting that he may have sent a lineup intent to injure a major player. He had to be physically restrained by several players and coaches.
Subsequently, the NHL suspended him for 15 days without pay, barring him from being in contact with the team during his suspension.
Canucks assistant coach Mike Sullivan took over the head coaching job during John's suspension.
On May 1, 2014, John was fired by the team.
Columbus Blue JacketsEdit
U.S. National Men's Hockey TeamEdit
John was also the assistant coach of the U.S. National Men's hockey team in 2008-2009 replacing Peter Laviolette (which included leading the squad at the 2008 IIHF World Championship where they finished sixth).
John attended Concord-Carlisle High School in Concord, Massachusetts where he is listed on the school's athletic Hall of Fame wall (1976).
He also attended the University of Maine, graduating in 1981.
John's brother Jim Tortorella is also listed on the wall. Jim now serves as the assistant men's coach for the University of New Hampshire Wildcats.
NHL Coaching RecordEdit
|Team||Year||Regular Season||Post Season|
|NYR||1999–2000*||4||0||3||1||-||1||4th in Atlantic (73 Pts.)||–||–||–||Missed Playoffs (Interim Coach)|
|TB||2000–01*||43||12||17||1||3||28||5th in Southeast (59 Pts.)||–||–||–||Missed Playoffs (Interim Coach)|
|TB||2001–02||82||27||40||11||4||69||3rd in Southeast||–||–||–||Missed Playoffs|
|TB||2002–03||82||36||25||16||5||93||1st in Southeast||5||6||.455||Lost in Second Round (NJ)|
|TB||2003–04||82||46||22||8||6||106||1st in Southeast||16||7||.696||Won Stanley Cup (CGY)|
|TB||2005–06||82||43||33||-||6||92||2nd in Southeast||1||4||.200||Lost in First Round (OTT)|
|TB||2006–07||82||44||33||-||5||93||2nd in Southeast||2||4||.333||Lost in First Round (NJ)|
|TB||2007–08||82||31||42||-||9||71||5th in Southeast||–||-||-||Missed Playoffs (Fired)|
|NYR||2008–09*||21||12||7||-||2||26||4th in Atlantic (95 Pts.)||3||4||.429||Lost in First Round (WSH)|
|NYR||2009–10||82||38||33||-||11||87||4th in Atlantic||-||-||-||Missed Playoffs|
|NYR||2010–11||82||44||33||-||5||93||3rd in Atlantic||1||4||.200||Lost in First Round (WSH)|
|NYR||2011–12||82||51||24||-||7||109||1st in Atlantic||10||10||.500||Lost in Conference Finals (NJD)|
|NYR||2012–13||48||26||18||-||4||56||2nd in Atlantic||5||7||.417||Lost in 2nd Round (BOS) (Fired)|
|VAN||2013–14||76||34||31||-||11||79||5th in Pacific (83 Pts.)||-||-||-||Missed Playoffs (Fired)|
|Total||930||444||371||37||78||1007||3 Division Titles||43||46||.483||1 Stanley Cup
8 Playoff Appearances
- – Mid-season replacement