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Larsen named coach of Blue Jackets, replaces Tortorella

Was Columbus assistant for seven seasons, gets three-year contract

by @NHLdotcom

Brad Larsen was named coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday.

Larsen, who turns 44 June 28, replaces John Tortorella after the Blue Jackets announced May 9 he would not return after six seasons.

Larsen was an assistant under Tortorella and Todd Richards for seven seasons and coached Springfield of the American Hockey League from 2012-14. Larsen was given a three-year contract.

"As far as who I am, I am firm but fair," Larsen said Friday. "I think I 100 percent believe in honestly, accountability. I think that's why 'Torts' and I saw eye to eye so well. (But) I probably will handle things differently than 'Torts' because that's who I am."

Larsen said making sure he was a good fit for the position was the most important part of the process in becoming Blue Jackets coach.

"There was no timetable on it," he said. "Even interviewing for this, I said, 'I'm not chasing a head coaching job. I want to make sure that you feel like I'm the right guy. And if not, that's OK, I'll move on and we'll figure things out.' "

Larsen played eight seasons in the NHL and scored 48 points (19 goals, 29 assists) in 294 games as a forward for the Colorado Avalanche and Atlanta Thrashers.

Video: The Columbus Blue Jackets announce new coach

Columbus (18-26-12) tied the Detroit Red Wings for last place in the eight-team Discover Central Division. It was the first time the Blue Jackets missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2015-16, Tortorella's first season.

Tortorella was 227-166-54 in the regular season and 13-18 in the playoffs in six seasons coaching Columbus.

"It makes me proud to promote Brad to our head coach because he deserves it," Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said. "He was one of the first interviews we had. We used this term, the 'Lars bar,' and nobody (else) seemed to get over the 'Lars bar.' The more and more we thought about it ... we felt that he was the best choice for us.

"We're going to grow. We're going to grow together with a new coach, we're going to grow together, as an organization."

Columbus president John Davidson said other NHL teams had inquired regarding Larsen's availability.

"When you think of Brad Larsen you think of a leader," Davidson said. "We wanted character. We knew that wasn't a question. ... We found a way to get Brad to stay with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

"You try to find a coach that is going to fit your team and your roster, and you have to find a group of players that are going to be able to work with that coach. You have a meshing and a marriage, and away you go. This was a really good fit in my mind." independent correspondent Craig Merz contributed to this report

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