John Tortorella has spoken on numerous occasions about building a culture of accountability – “it’s a nice word to use in the summer time,” he says – but certain moments throughout a season reinforce it naturally.
In the third period of Saturday night’s game against Colorado, Scott Hartnell was involved in a skirmish/exchange of words near the Avalanche bench, causing him to be late to the bench on a line change. The Blue Jackets were called for a too many men on the ice penalty, sending Colorado on the power play in a 1-1 game.
Tortorella didn’t like it and Hartnell didn’t play the rest of that game. Today, near the end of practice, Hartnell owned it.
With the team doing its end-of-practice stretch at center ice, Hartnell stood up and apologized to the group, and Tortorella was the first to start banging his stick on the ice in appreciation before the rest of the team followed suit.
It was an important moment for not only Hartnell but also for the entire team.
“That’s part of building your locker room. It’s important,” Tortorella said. “As we talk about – that’s honesty, and when there’s honesty, that’s good. That’s a step for our locker room right there. That’s a step for Scotty Hartnell, and for young players too, seeing how a locker room needs to be conducted.”
Tortorella said he wasn’t aware that media and fans in the OhioHealth Ice Haus witnessed the apology and wished it remained in the locker room, but with the whole team together, it was the right spot for Hartnell to speak up.
“It’s his call. It’s good for him, it’s good for our team,” Tortorella said.
Sergei Bobrovsky took part in his second straight full practice today and appears on the verge of a formal return to the net. He dressed as backup goaltender to Joonas Korpisalo on Saturday night and watched another solid performance from the 21-year-old Finn, who’s made 70 saves in back-to-back wins.
When asked if Korpisalo’s solid play makes it easier to be patient with Bobrovsky, Tortorella didn’t hesitate.
“If Bob’s ready, he’s in,” Tortorella said. “Listen – this has been a great experience for Korpi and Anton. A great experience. But Bob is our No. 1 guy.”
The Blue Jackets expect to know at some point this afternoon if Bobrovsky is 100 percent and ready to go tomorrow night against Washington.
The Blue Jackets sported a slightly different look today in practice but that’s not to say it will be their alignment tomorrow night. That’s still up in the air, Tortorella said, among a few other spots on the roster.
They expect to get players back healthy after the All-Star break, but for now, the coaching staff is trying a variety of combinations to spark an offense that has struggled all season to score goals consistently.
Here’s how they looked today: Saad-Wennberg-Anderson, Jenner-Dubinsky-Atkinson, Bourque-Karlsson-Rychel, Hannikainen-Campbell-Boll/Hartnell.
On defense: Murray-Jones, Johnson-Goloubef, Falk-Prout.