Blue Jackets GM backs John Tortorella amid team's struggles

Arun Srinivasan
·2-min read

Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella's job is safe for now after receiving an endorsement from general manager Jarmo Kekalainen.

The Blue Jackets are slumping, losing five straight with one win over their past eight games, while Tortorella has made a few controversial moves, including the temporary benching of newly-acquired star forward Patrik Laine. Tortorella had also previously benched Pierre-Luc Dubois before he was traded to the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for Laine.

"This coaching staff has gotten us out of slumps before. They've done a great job in the past five or six years they've been here. They are the ones that are going to get out of this jam as well, with the team that we have," Kekalainen told reporters on Tuesday.

Tortorella, to his credit, said Tuesday he's not coaching merely to save himself.

John Tortorella isn't going anywhere, for now. (Photo by Jason Mowry/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
John Tortorella isn't going anywhere, for now. (Photo by Jason Mowry/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

"We're all big boys here. When you're losing games and you're playing as poorly as we're playing, those questions should be asked," Tortorella said. "I'm not going to coach a team to keep my job. I'm going to coach the team to do the best I can for the team. That will never change.

"Accountability is accountability. It's a great summertime word. People like to use 'accountability' and 'culture' during the [offseason] but it needs to be at hand every day when the season starts," Tortorella added. "Don't confuse accountability with paralyzing players or tightening them up. I feel like as professionals, you have to be held accountable. The coach's responsibility is how to do it with each individual. Pushing the right button in one instance may be different from one guy to the other. That's what we have to walk through."

It doesn't appear that Tortorella's fiery style is going to change anytime soon and with a needed vote of confidence from his general manager, the Blue Jackets will have to fight their way out of a hole in what's been a turbulent season to date.

Forward Cam Atkinson also went to bat for his coach on Tuesday, putting the blame on the players and dismissing the notion that Tortorella has lost the room.

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The Blue Jackets are currently fifth place in the Central, seven points back of Chicago for the final spot in the division.

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