Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella is no stranger to conflict, and it seems he’s still adopting that approach despite being much calmer in Columbus.
In an excellent piece by Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch, Tortorella opens up about the changes he’s made. Torts discusses becoming more of a teacher, while not doing so much yelling in practice – something Blue Jackets forward Rene Bourque agrees with.
“Being honest, he has a reputation as a mean-ass coach, hard on superstars. That’s been built up a lot over the years. Maybe he was like that before, but he’s been really good with the guys in here. He wants the back-and-forth, he wants the interaction. He’s a really good teacher.”
The Jackets are settling into a groove under Tortorella, collecting points in nine of their last 10 games while winning six of those contests. Still, the team is last in the Metropolitan Division with 53 points.
You can’t take the fight from the Torts, as he admitted he still uses manipulation and conflict in order to light a fire under his players and get them to be more honest.
“I even try to manipulate situations to try and cause an argument,” Tortorella said. “I want an argument. I want the conversation. If they’re not going to come in and talk to me, I’m going to cause something so you have to talk to me.
“It may turn into conflict. But I think that’s some of the most important stuff you can have with the player. When there’s conflict, there’s honesty.”
A leopard can’t change its spots. Columbus knew they were going to get the best and worst of Torts when they fired Todd Richards earlier this season. As long as he’s helping and not hurting player development, conflict should be welcome.