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Blue Jackets fire Richards, hire Tortorella as head coach

Jerome Miron / USA TODAY Sports

After an 0-7-0 start to the season, the Columbus Blue Jackets have made a coaching change.

Todd Richards has been fired and replaced with John Tortorella, the club announced Wednesday.

"After much deliberation and discussion, we have made the very difficult decision late last night to remove Todd Richards as our head coach and we’ve reached an agreement with John Tortorella to join the Columbus Blue Jackets in that capacity," said general manager Jarmo Kekalainen.

"None of us saw our season unfolding the way it has and every one of us from management to coaches to players bears responsibility. There is still a lot of hockey to be played and we believe this change was necessary to give our team the best chance to accomplish the goals we’ve set for this season."

Assistants Craig Hartsburg and Brad Larsen retain their jobs for the time being, adds Chris Johnston of Sportsnet.

The move comes the morning after a 4-0 loss to the New York Islanders, followed by several declarations from Blue Jackets players that the club's terrible start can't be pinned on coaching.

There's no denying the numbers, however: The winless Blue Jackets have allowed a league-worst 34 goals through seven games, albeit as a positive possession team with a Corsi For rating of 50.4 at even strength.

Tortorella has been out of the coaching game since the end of the 2013-14 season, when he was deposed as bench boss of the Vancouver Canucks after one rather calamitous campaign.

TSN's Bob McKenzie reports that Tortorella's contract with Columbus is for this season and the next two - the same as the remaining term on his contract with the Canucks - and Vancouver is paying "some of it."

It was originally reported that Columbus would send a third-round draft pick to Vancouver as compensation, in line with the NHL's collective bargaining agreement. The timing of the move bumps the pick up to a higher round.

Tortorella arrives in Columbus with 444 regular-season wins in 930 games with Vancouver, Tampa Bay, and New York. Tortorella won a Stanley Cup with the Lightning in 2004 and took the Rangers to the Eastern Conference finals as recently as 2012. He's also been selected to coach Team USA at the 2016 World Cup.

Richards had guided the Blue Jackets to a record of 127-112-21 and one playoff appearance since taking over the job in early 2012. There was much buzz surrounding the Blue Jackets following a 16-2-1 finish last season and the addition of Brandon Saad, but, as Kekalainen put it, things got "off the rails" pretty quick, ultimately costing Richards his job.

Tortorella's first attempt at righting the ship comes Thursday against Minnesota.

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