Columbus Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella isn’t exactly known for enjoying his time in Vancouver. The much-maligned bench boss spent exactly one season with the Canucks and led the team to its worst points percentage in 15 years and the first time in the previous five that the club missed the playoffs.
He also did this.
Oh, and he lived in Point Roberts the whole time.
So yeah, it wouldn’t appear that Torts has too many cherished memories in the city.
But that reportedly took a turn this season, as the University of British Columbia provided the site for the Blue Jackets turnaround that led to a blazing hot finish to the regular season and a sweep of the juggernaut Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round of the playoffs.
According to Blue Jackets president of hockey operations John Davidson, who was speaking on the ESPN On Ice podcast with Greg Wyshynski and Emily Kaplan, it all started at UBC.
The Blue Jackets had lost three in a row (including a 4-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers the night before) and were in danger of falling out of the wildcard race when the team landed in Vancouver for a March 24 game against the Canucks.
“The day of our practice, the second day in Vancouver, the day before the game, there was a practice at the University of British Columbia,” recalled Davidson around the 40-minute mark of the podcast. “And the players and the coaches had an all-out meeting, it was as raw as it can be, as honest as it can be, and with John Tortorella, I don’t care what people think about him… if you want honesty, he’s your coach. It was a very honest, air-it-out, cleansing type of meeting.
“And then when they came out for practice, sitting in the stands watching, that was by far the best practice we’ve had all year. So whatever was discussed I think was weighing on these guys. In my opinion, we were either going to go north, or we were going to go south. And we’ve gone north ever since.”
Have they ever. After the trip to Vancouver (which came with a 5-0 shellacking of the Canucks by the way), the Blue Jackets went 7-1 to end the regular season. And, of course, they polished off the Lightning (who had set records for excellence all year) in four games in the playoffs.
In fact, Columbus has only lost two of their last 13 games, both to the Boston Bruins, who they are currently facing in the second round. Game 2 of the series goes today, with the Blue Jackets down one.
Unfortunately, Vancouver probably can’t help them by the Bruins.
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