Blue Jackets season ticket holders enjoy numerous benefits throughout the season, and in terms of popularity, “exclusive” events rank near the top of the list.
And before the team took on the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday night at Nationwide Arena, they were treated to something completely new and totally exciting.
Head coach John Tortorella made his first public appearance since taking over on Oct. 21, meeting with season ticket holders on the Bud Light Terrace following the morning skate. A crowd of over 400 gathered to hear from the NHL’s winningest American-born coach and 2004 Stanley Cup champion, wedging in wherever they could after all the chairs had been occupied.
Fans also had the opportunity to submit questions for Tortorella in advance, and team television voice Jeff Rimer played the part of emcee/moderator with NBCSN analyst Keith Jones (a former NHLer) also on the dais.
"How have you changed as a coach during your time off?"
"What’s your favorite part about Columbus so far?"
"Can you describe your philosophy and coaching style?"
Those were a few of the questions directed at Tortorella, who answered the only way he knows how: honestly. He delved into prior experiences and relationships he’s built with players, explaining his approach to coaching and how he plans to modify that approach in his latest challenge.
“We have a really good group here, with a lot of young kids. We’re teaching. We’re going to find our way,” Tortorella said.
Of course, one of the first topics tackled was the status of center Ryan Johansen.
Tortorella let the season ticket holders know that Johansen would be returning to the lineup, and even went into detail about making him a scratch on Thursday, going over video with him, and getting him “reset” and understanding of what they expect from him.
Tortorella told the season ticket holders that if the Blue Jackets are going to win and win consistently, they need Johansen and they need him on top of his game.
“(Johansen) a really, really important part of our team,” Tortorella said. “He is only 23 years old.”
“Everybody’s looking for me and Joey to get into this public argument, but we’re not arguing. I’m coaching him, and he wants to become a better player.”
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