Columbus started out 0-7 to begin the 2015-16 NHL season. The team finally cut ties with head coach Todd Richards and hired the bulldozer John Tortorella.
The Blue Jackets are one of those NHL teams that if you’re not a fan of hockey, you may not realize they exist. They are still fairly new for pro team standards, but they should have more national name exposure by this point.
Tortorella has the playoff experience Columbus needs to push them in the right direction. How will they react to Tortorella’s hard-line demeanor?
The reason I think Tortorella will be a success in Columbus is that he’s had success with a young team in a market with a marginal fanbase in Tampa Bay. Richards clearly lost the respect of his captains. They have looked like they are just going through the motions.
Tampa Bay is a bigger market, but let’s be honest, it isn’t exactly a ‘hockey town’. Columbus isn’t a hockey town either. Having lived there for a few years, the casual fan doesn’t even know the NHL season started until after Ohio State’s bowl game is over. The Blue Jackets need those casual fans to fill the arena.
Columbus does have a great, passionate group of fans, but it’s a small market. They need a winner to gain the casual fans. The city wants to root for the Blue Jackets, but why bother when they are near the bottom of the league? The Browns have already filled the ‘lovable losers’ column in their life.
I hope Tort can bring a winner to Columbus. This season is probably already lost due to not getting a single point in their first seven games. He will put Columbus back in the playoff hunt in the coming years.
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.