When the Columbus Blue Jackets hired John Tortorella to be their head coach on Oct. 21, 2015, there was skepticism in the hockey world. Tortorella had not coached in the National Hockey League for a full season and was unsuccessful the previous year coaching the Vancouver Canucks.
However after posting a record of 34-33-8 coaching Columbus in 75 games in 2015-16, Tortorella has implemented a winning formula in Columbus in 2016-17. The Blue Jackets have a record of 18-5-4 after 27 games. Tortorella is not only having his best coaching season, but the Blue Jackets are having their finest season in franchise history.
One area where the Blue Jackets have improved is their third period production. They are a +15 in the final 20 minutes, as they have outscored their opponents 32-17. Tortorella has a lot to do with that production as prior to the start of the season, he made skating a major part of the Blue Jackets' practice regime.
Tortorella is also close to a NHL milestone. Already the most winningest American-born coach in NHL history, Tortorella is only two wins away from 500 regular season wins.
In other NHL news, Alan Thicke of Kirkland Lake, Ontario passed away on Tuesday at the age of 69. Thicke was a regular host of the NHL Awards. He died of a heart attack while playing hockey with his son Carter in California. Another person who passed away this past week was former Philadelphia Flyers head coach Bill Dineen. Bill, the father of former Hartford Whalers star Kevin Dineen, passed away at the age of 84 in Lake George, New York. Bill also played for the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Black Hawks.
On the injury front, Max Domi of the Arizona Coyotes is out indefinitely following hand surgery. Domi was in a fight last week with Garnet Hathaway of the Calgary Flames.
Meanwhile the hottest player in the NHL continues to be Jakub Voracek of the Philadelphia Flyers. Over the last week, Voracek had two goals and six assists for eight points in only three games.