John Tortorella misses NHL All-Star Game for gravely ill dog

When Columbus Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella announced he was missing Thursday night’s game against the Nashville Predators and all of All-Star Weekend due to a personal matter, the speculation began. For example, the Columbus Dispatch had to clarify that it didn’t concern the wellbeing of the coach’s son, who is active military.

On Friday, Tortorella clarified the situation himself: One of his family’s five dogs is gravely ill, and his family needed him.

“I appreciate so much the number of messages I have received since the announcement,” Tortorella told Aaron Portzline. “But this absolutely is not an emergency. I want to clear that up. I needed a few days during the All-Star break – not having to go to the All-Star Game – to take care of something very important to my family and my son.”

From the Dispatch:

Tortorella has a long history of supporting animal rights causes, and his family’s foundation – The John and Christine Tortorella Foundation – has, among other things, found homes for several rescue and foster dogs.

He has an affinity for pit bulls. The dog that is ailing is a 10-year-old pit bull, Emma. She belongs to his son, Nick, who is a U.S. Army Ranger stationed abroad. “I needed to see this through,” Tortorella said.

As a fellow dog owner, props to Tortorella for being with a member of his family during this trying time. Not exactly easy to answer questions about the shot accuracy competition when your mind and heart are elsewhere.

For missing the game on Thursday, Tortorella won’t have to miss a game after the All-Star Break, as per NHL rules.

Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.