You can't think about John Tortorella and Martin St. Louis without thinking of their time in Tampa Bay together.
A Stanley Cup championship will bond a player and coach forever, and when the Blue Jackets were in Tampa a few weeks ago for a game against the Lightning, the recently minted Hockey Hall of Famer came up.
"That's a guy I think you have to really look for, as his kids get away from him and he stops coaching them as the kids say, 'I don't want to listen to you anymore Dad,' as far as a guy at this level that could be a really good coach," Tortorella said to laughter. "It'll be interesting to see what happens."
Now we know, at least in the short term, what will happen. The Blue Jackets announced Monday that St. Louis has joined the organization as a special teams consultant, reuniting former player and coach in the Columbus organization.
Video: Martin St. Louis joins CBJ as a special assistant
The new role came about after some recent conversations with Tortorella and St. Louis, who spent parts of seven seasons together with the Lightning from 2000 through 2008. It will also allow St. Louis to spend the bulk of his time at his residence in Connecticut, where he serves as a coach for on teams featuring his three sons, Ryan, 16, Lucas, 13, and Mason, 11.
"Torts called me a few weeks back," St. Louis told BlueJackets.com today. "He knows what I'm doing right now with my kids and asked if I want to get involved without taking my time with my kids away from me, so to me, I thought it was a win-win for everybody. I still get to do the things I need to do and want to do with my kids but get to help Columbus as well.
"I think it's a chance for me to get my feet wet, get inside the ropes a little bit but still do what I love to do with my kids."
St. Louis' credentials precede him. The Quebec native who began his pro career as an undrafted free agent worked himself into one of the top players in NHL history, as he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame this November. A six-time All-Star in his 17-year career, St. Louis registered 391 goals, 642 assists and 1,033 points in 1,134 games with the Calgary Flames, Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers from 1998-2015.
His biggest success came in 2004 when he won the Stanley Cup championship on a Lightning team coached by Tortorella, the season in which St. Louis won the Hart Trophy as league MVP. That season, St. Louis had 38 goals and led the NHL with 56 assists, 94 points, a plus-35 rating and eight shorthanded goals before adding 24 points in 23 postseason games. The bond between player and coach has remained strong, and Tortorella was part of St. Louis' jersey retirement ceremony two seasons ago in Tampa.
When it comes to special teams, St. Louis scored 101 power-play and 29 shorthanded goals, showing a knack for playing in all situations. While St. Louis' exact job description is still to be figured out, he's looking forward to helping the Blue Jackets, whose penalty kill has been among the best in the NHL over the past month but whose power play has been inconsistent the past few seasons.
"I have a lot of respect for Torts," St. Louis said. "I think he works extremely hard. He's passionate. He cares. And I think we have a lot of similarities that way. So for me, I'm very appreciative of the opportunity that he's given me at a time that he knows and I know that I'm not ready to do this full-time as a day-to-day guy, but I can help from a distance.
"I know I'm going to have to come in every now and then but I would love to be able to share my knowledge from my experience and add something good to what's already a great group of players and staff."
St. Louis will be in Columbus next week when the team returns from its winter break to get the lay of the land.
"It'll be a good opportunity to just meet the guys, get a good feel for how they do things, start working at it and try to add something that will be helpful for the great season they're already having," he said.
St. Louis, who has also worked with Blue Jackets forward Cam Atkinson in past years, said he can see himself as a full-time NHL coach down the road, but family comes first. In addition, his role with the Blue Jackets will allow him to see if getting into the professional coaching ranks is where he truly wants to be.
"I think I'd love to do this full-time eventually," he said. "For now, it's a chance for me to see if it's something I'd like to do. I'm going to try this, and I feel like I can add something. If it's something I want to do full-time, I think it'll be a good gauge to figure that out."