Blue Jackets have worst NHL start in 72 years, lose Tortorella debut

Having been the Columbus Blue Jackets’ head coach for less than 48 hours, John Tortorella was candid about his learning curve before their game at the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night.

“I don’t know who they are,” he said of his players. “I see them, I see their faces, and I don’t know who they are yet.”

Tortorella knows them now. They’re the team with the porous goaltending and the sputtering offense. The team whose star leaders aren’t worthy of either superlative at the moment. The team that, by virtue of their 3-2 loss to the Wild on Thursday night, is 0-8-0 and off to the worst start for an NHL team in 72 years.

The 1943-44 New York Rangers were 0-11-0 to start their season. It was the first season the NHL had a red line. They ended up winning six games

"There were a lot of good things that went well with our club. But now we're 0-8. Moral victories aren't going to help us right now. But for a number of minutes, I thought we played hard. I thought we played the way we're going to have to play to get out of this, but we come up empty as far as points,” Totorella said after the game.

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The Jackets got down early, as Zach Parise’s sixth goal at 5:04 made it 1-0. But then the Jackets rallied: Alexander Wennberg scored at 10:16 and then Brandon Dubinsky, who had a crumbling relationship with Tortorella with the New York Rangers, scored on the power play at 19:39 for the lead.

But then Nino Niederreiter scored a soft goal against Sergei Bobrovsky (20 saves) and Thomas Vanek scored on the power-play – with Cody Goloubef in the box on two minor penalties – for the 3-2 lead and eventual win.

Already, the Jackets saw Tortorella impose his will on the team: Ryan Johansen, the franchise center, was benched in the third period, failing to see the ice for the final 6:10 of the game.

Dubinsky, meanwhile, played 8:29 in the third period, with Nick Foligno and Brandon Saad, who are Johansens linemates.

Message, sent.

“We’re 0-8. We need to find a way to get a win. But I thought we took a step in the right direction for what we need to do to get out of this,” said Tortorella.