The odd start of the NHL season was touched on in yesterday's game-day preview: certain talented clubs are struggling like the Anaheim Ducks and Pittsburgh Penguins, who have yet to score a power play goal between them two weeks into the NHL season (that changed last night as Pittsburgh put one on net).
The team in the worst situation is the Columbus Blue Jackets. Last season, it was a jungle of injuries that seemed to curtail any hopes for a competitive season. This time around, no wins in 7 games and a goal differential of negative-21 (13 goals for, 34 goals against) has resulted in the firing of Todd Richards as head coach of the Blue Jackets. There is no process of finding a replacement for him, as with his firing came the announcement John Tortorella will take over the club as head coach.
Can he right that ship on the fly? Would anyone be able to for that matter? A firing seven games into the season suggests a turn-over should have happened during the off-season that trouble was already in the cards for the coach. It's part of why Claude Julien in Boston seems destined to be relieved of his coaching duties - a shift in the front office and on the roster and mixed results (Boston is 2-3-0 in 5 games) seems to suggest change is inevitable.
Torts has come in on-the-fly before in two instances, though he had been an assistant in Tampa Bay when he took over for Steve Ludzik in 2001. His notable on-the-fly assumption of coaching duties happened in New York with the Rangers, taking the reins from Tom Renney and putting his mark of competitiveness on the Rags. Of course John Tortorella under the media microscope in the City that Never Sleeps wasn't going to fly forever.
If I invoke his time in Vancouver, it can serve as proof starting from scratch instead of on-the-fly may not suit Torts.
This is the Blue Jackets 15th season in the league, the club has only made the playoffs twice in franchise history (2008-09 and 2013-14), only making it to the first round in either case. It's early enough in the season to know everyone still has a chance, but it will be a challenge digging out of the hole that the club has started in