For much of the last two decades, the New York Islanders were a tonic for coaches under fire -- seeing them on the schedule was a relief to slumping clubs -- as well as a turnstile for coaches behind their own bench.
Last night both scripts were inverted. Jack Capuano, who recently became the Islanders' second-longest tenured and second-winningest coach in their history, was behind the bench as the Islanders performed the death knell for Todd Richards' tenure coaching the Columbus Blue Jackets.
We joked about the possibility before the game, with all signs (a pending road trip for Columbus among them) pointing to a change. Then it happened. With the 4-0 Isles win dropping Columbus to 0-7 on the season, management decided to fire Richards and name John Tortorella as his replacement. Having survived last year's injury carnage and added Brandon Saad over the summer, the Blue Jackets were expected to be one of five playoff contenders in the Metropolitan Division.
Climbing back into the bubble will be a tall order, and the Islanders -- like the Rangers before them on the season's opening weekend -- helped push the Jackets far down the ladder before the season is three weeks old.
How will the move change Columbus' style of play? Tortorella, who's tenure with the Rangers was his most eventful stop in an NHL career that also included Tampa Bay's only Stanley Cup, sounded, well, a lot like every other coach:
We want to pursue. We want to be aggressive. We want to go north-south and play very quickly. There are no secrets. A lot of coaches are doing the same thing. It's making sure you're doing it better. We are gonna spend time (focusing on) how we play. I don't want to spend a lot of time on what other teams are doing. It's about us.
We have to take this day by day. Meeting by meeting. Practice by practice.
You can watch John Tortorella's introductory press conference here, including thoughts afterward from Blue Jackets broadcaster Jody Shelley. Shelley played briefly for Tortorella in New York but had high praise for Tortorella's "loyalty," "respect" and "accountability" there despite some of the antics all saw through the media: