Last season started with John Tortorella as the early favorite to be the first coach fired.
By the end of June, however, he was the Jack Adams Award winner as the league’s coach of the year.
The Columbus Blue Jackets underwent quite a transformation, setting single-season franchise records in wins (50) and points (108), while goalie Sergei Bobrovsky was sensational and claimed the Vezina Trophy.
The success of last season could have an impact on the dollar figure Tortorella may be able to demand for his next contract, according to the Columbus Dispatch, which spoke with Torts’ agent Neil Glasberg.
Remember, not only was he favored to be fired early last season, he was previously let go by the Canucks after a disastrous single season in Vancouver. Charging down a hallway to the Calgary Flames dressing room to get at Bob Hartley during an intermission — and the subsequent suspension for his actions — was the low point for Tortorella with that franchise.
That was during the 2013-14 season.
Three years later . . .
Tortorella’s situation bears watching. He’s entering the final year of his contract, a five-year, $10 million deal signed with Vancouver in 2013. Since the Blue Jackets hired him in October 2015, they’ve paid only $750,000 of his $2 million annual salary, with the Canucks picking up the rest. In other words, the Blue Jackets have been paying less for their coach than just about any other team in the NHL. Even the $2 million figure puts him only in the middle of the pack, but that’s about to change.
“Who just won coach of the year?” Glasberg said. “It’s not the first time he’s won the Jack Adams Trophy, either. He’s won a Stanley Cup. The Blue Jackets just had the best season in franchise history, and it’s not even close. Yeah, he should be among the top-paid coaches in the league.”
Mike Babcock of the Maple Leafs, hired by that franchise in May of 2015, signed an eight-year deal worth an estimated $50 million in Toronto. According to CapFriendly, he makes $6.25 million per season, listed as the highest paid coach in the league. Joel Quenneville is second, making $6 million.