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Blue Jackets players reportedly ask John Tortorella to ‘be easier’ during struggles

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Sportsnet reports the players held a closed-door meeting with their coach about his style.

Ottawa Senators v Columbus Blue Jackets Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

After a historic first half of the 2016-17 NHL season, the Columbus Blue Jackets have hit a bump in the road. And according to reports, the team has asked coach John Tortorella to weather it more calmly.

Columbus has gone 8-8-1 since riding a 16-game win streak throughout December. The slide has let the Penguins and Rangers sneak up on the Blue Jackets, leaving the Ohio team in a precarious position. No doubt tensions are higher than normal in Columbus.

During a Hockey Night in Canada intermission report on Saturday, Sportsnet reporters Elliotte Friedman and Nick Kypreos reported that Blue Jackets players had met with Tortorella recently to ask him to stay positive:

“There was a meeting there the other day, and I think there was just some requests. I know publicly and privately, they’ve just asked him to be a little easier,” Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said on Saturday night.

"The feeling amongst the players is maybe some of that old style of Tortorella had crept in on the bench," said Nick Kypreos. "We were told that there was a closed-door meeting amongst the players and Tortorella.

"Usually it’s the coach giving it to the players but in this instance I think they were looking for Tortorella to go back and find a few more positive things to find the last few games.”

Tortorella is renowned for his hot temper that served him well when he led the Tampa Bay Lightning to the Stanley Cup in 2004. In recent years, however, it’s contributed to some job-hopping.

Tortorella joined the Canucks in 2013 after the Rangers fired him, leading to perhaps his most iconic (and regrettable) moment as a head coach when he sparked a fight in the Calgary Flames’ hallway:

Slipping into his old ways during tough times might not be something new, but his players deciding to call him on it and work with him certainly seems like it. And it doesn’t necessarily indicate the relationship has soured, either: You could take this as a sign of respect from the players toward the coach who turned them from a bottom-dweller into a playoff contender.

Earlier this year, it was reported that Columbus management had asked Tortorella to show more patience with his young players than he’s been accustomed to. By all measures, he has. The results speak for themselves, so it’s no surprise his players are trying to keep him committed to patience again during a rough few weeks.

With a victory over Detroit on Saturday, the Blue Jackets have won two of their last three games.