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Young defense, opportunity to work with Tortorella appealed to Shaw

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

Back on June 3, the Blue Jackets hired veteran NHL coach Brad Shaw to run their defense and penalty killing. We caught up with him to talk about his new gig, his ties to Ohio, and what excites him about his new gig.

Q: Brad, how did the process begin that led to you joining the Blue Jackets?

A: (In early June), I flew in to meet with John Tortorella and the management team. We spoke for about four hours that day, and then I flew back home to St. Louis. It was a great process, and honestly, it wasn't too unfamiliar. I talked to Torts about joining his coaching staff in Tampa 10 years ago - I think it was at the 2006 draft - so I knew him. I had the privilege of working with JD and Jarmo during my time in St. Louis, so there was some familiarity there, as well, which helped me as we went along.

Q: What factors made you lean in the direction of Columbus?

A: Well first off, it's the opportunity to work with Torts. Torts has conviction, as you well know. He has passion and energy and an ability to help teams win hockey games. There were lots of things that went into my decision; I have a daughter that's going into the 11th grade and it wasn’t going to be easy for her to split high school in half, so we focused on cities that have great reputations for education and that are known as great places to raise your kids. Every person I talked to, and their wives, were adamant that Columbus was the best place to live that they’d ever played or worked. I know Ohio from being in Cincinnati for three years. I love the attitude of the people in Ohio, so when it all boiled down, we checked off a lot of boxes and decided on Columbus.

Q: As a hockey coach, how exciting is the chance to work with this group of young defensemen?

A: The young defensemen here played a big part in my decision, no doubt about it. The biggest challenge in working with young players is trying to pin down and have a clear picture of what the final product will look like when they’re at their best in the NHL. Every guy is different. Seth Jones is different than Zach Werenski, and he’s different than Ryan Murray, and Ryan is different than David Savard, and so on. When you can get to a point in your relationship between coach and player when you’re both striving to the same final goal, it helps you get there a little bit quicker. Hopefully, we can establish that early on and accomplish what we set out to do.

Q: You all want the same thing, but every player is a different person. Is that a challenge?

A: That’ll be a challenge to get to know these guys, absolutely. There are certain guys you can put the whip to and certain guys who don’t like it at all. I had a luxury of being in St. Louis for 10 years - that's a long time for a coach - and developed a great relationship with those players. They could almost run my meetings. David Backes pretty much knew how my (penalty kill) meetings ran and could have done it for me. The one thing I’ve learned, and that I think know more of now having 17 years of coaching experience, is that relationships drive development and they allow the players the best opportunity to reach their potential. I’m really excited to meet these guys and help them get to their maximum level as soon as possible.

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