Washington Capitals: Effects Of Blue Jackets Hiring John Tortorella


Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

The Columbus Blue Jackets have made a bold coaching change by firing head coach Todd Richards and hiring Washington Capitals nemesis John Tortorella. How does this affect the Caps?

The Washington Capitals and Columbus Blue Jackets have forged a bit of a rivalry over the past two seasons. Their games have often been close and hard fought. The Blue Jackets don’t have a huge rival, but the Capitals are probably on their short list of rivals since they are in the same division. The rivalry between the two Metropolitan Division teams has had the equivalent of a fuel can dumped on it due to Columbus hiring John Tortorella as their new head coach.

Washington Capitals fans can probably think of a thousand excuses to hate Torts. He was the head coach of the Rangers and was a frequent adversary to the Capitals in the playoffs. Torts might be the LEAST likable head coach in the NHL because he loves to yell and he gets on everyone’s nerves. Did I mention that he once shot water out of a water bottle at Caps fans and Caps fans proceeded to troll him two games later? It’s not a secret – Caps fans hate Tortorella and the feeling is most likely mutual.

Columbus hiring Tortorella will have some effects on the Washington Capitals. Let’s take a look at how the hiring of Torts could cause ripples across the Metropolitan Division and the NHL.

The Blue Jackets will likely see a shift in their strategy and focus. The Washington Capitals have yet to play the Blue Jackets this season. However, it’s not a secret that Columbus relied heavily on their forwards under former head coach Todd Richards. Richards’s system was more offensive-focused. Their defensive system involved setting their forwards up for breakaways and relied heavily on the play of goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky

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Tortorella will likely adopt a defensive-focused system. With the Rangers and the Canucks, his teams were among the leading shot blockers in the NHL. That worked well when he had Henrik Lundqvist as his goalie with the Rangers and to a certain degree, it worked with Eddie Lack in Vancouver. Both of those goalies tend to play deep in their crease, so blocking shots was a fairly effective strategy since if shots got through, they could easily save them.

Bobrovsky likes to play towards the top of the crease. Whether that will work with Tortorella’s system remains to be seen. It’s worth noting that Roberto Luongo, who has a similar playing style to Bobrovsky and certainly had success before Tortorella’s stint as the head coach of the Vancouver Canucks, did not have success under Tortorella. One thing is for sure, though. The Washington Capitals will have to earn their shots on goal against the Blue Jackets.

Games between the Caps and Blue Jackets just got more entertaining. Tortorella is a good head coach. You don’t have the success that he has had (including a Stanley Cup with the Lightning) without being a good head coach. However, that’s not what Torts is famous for. He’s famous for his antics and being an entertainer. Richards was more reserved. Tortorella could not be further from “reserved”. He’s competitive and emotional. He’s often angry even if his team is winning 5-0. Games between the Caps and Blue Jackets have become “must see TV” thanks to the hiring of Tortorella. 

The Blue Jackets are likely going to see some roster changes. As one might imagine, Tortorella’s system is not for everyone. It will be interesting to see if forward Brandon Dubinsky can survive round two of Tortorella after round one ended with Dubinsky hating Torts. Tortorella is known to bench anyone who doesn’t buy into his system. That could include guys like Brandon Saad or Ryan Johansen. Tortorella is going to bring change to Columbus. Whether that change is good or bad remains to be seen. Torts claimed that he’s different now in his press conference with the Blue Jackets, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

Tortorella being back in the NHL certainly affects the Washington Capitals in more ways than one. The NHL has missed you so dearly Torts. It’s been boring without you. Welcome back! Be sure to check out Fansided’s Blue Jackets blog Union And Blue as they experience the roller coaster ride that is John Tortorella.

Next: Scouting The Blue Jackets

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