Columbus Blue Jackets

Tortorella Sounds Off About Coach’s Challenge

Many players, personnel, media and fans praised the NHL’s decision this summer to incorporate the coach’s challenge into this season’s rulebook. While there have been mixed reviews since implementation, one person is definitely not a fan: Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella.

“Just get rid of the coach’s challenge. Just get rid of it,” Tortorella told the media in his post-game press conference. “The whole being of the coach’s challenge is to get [the call] right. If we can’t get it right on that call, then get rid of the coaches challenge.”

The play that had the Blue Jackets’ head coach riled up was Loui Eriksson’s goal, the Bruins’ first of the night, after the Blue Jackets took a 1-0 lead just minutes before. Torey Krug took a shot from the point and Eriksson deflected the puck past Blue Jackets rookie goaltender Joonas Korpisalo.

However, it appeared that Korpisalo was unable to stretch his leg all the way out to make the save because Eriksson’s leg was in the way–and in the Jackets’ crease.

Take a look at the play below:

When the officials ruled that it was a good goal, Tortorella made his thoughts pretty clear:

He elaborated on those thoughts after the game.

“All I did was waste a time out [on that],” Tortorella said, shaking his head. “It’s discouraging that it’s a no-brainer call. If they vote again for it, [I say] no coach’s challenge as far as this organization is concerned.”

Tortorella proposed throwing out the option altogether and going back to letting on-ice officials make the call as they have in the past.

“If we spend two or three minutes and a coach wastes a time out to try and get the call right and we still get the call wrong, why have it?” Tortorella asked. “I wanted my time out back, quite honestly. I respect the referees—it’s a really tough job—but I thought this was for that reason, to make their job easier. It gives them a chance to look at it again, to get some information from hockey ops. But to get that one wrong, it’s just beyond belief. It’s very frustrating that we can’t get it right and that’s what this is all about. So get rid of the thing and lets get back to what we had before.”

The game featured a second challenge when the Bruins’ head coach Claude Julien challenged Blue Jackets forward Brandon Saad’s third period goal for goaltender interference. Saad’s teammate Scott Hartnell went to shoot the puck, but instead hit a Bruins player’s stick and sent the wood straight into Bruins goaltender Jonas Gustavsson’s head. He went down, unable to stop Saad from scoring:

Tortorella said he did not see anything that would qualify as goaltender interference because Hartnell hitting the stick was “incidental,” but was not sure how the challenge would play out based on his past experience.

“Quite honestly, I don’t know [how they would call it], so I was nervous about that,” Tortorella said. “There’s nothing there. I think Claude does the right thing to make the call. I mean, why not? It’s a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.

“The way [the coach’s challenge has] gone in some of the other [games] I have seen—I’m not trying to disrespect anybody here. It’s just frustrating for a coach and his team, to spend the time out, to take two or three minutes to look at that, and we still get the call wrong. That’s frustrating.”

Tortorella said that despite his frustration, he told the Blue Jackets bench to go out there and not let the call impact the end result.

“I said there’s no sense in complaining about it,” Tortorella said. “I wish I wasn’t complaining about it [in this press conference], but I can’t help it. It’s just so frustrating. I thought we kept our concentration and played well.”

The Blue Jackets played well enough to beat the Bruins 6-4 after all was said and done, something Tortorella was happy with.

“I thought we played a really good game and managed the puck, made some good plays, and everybody contributed,” Tortorella said.

Tortorella’s Blue Jackets will be in action tomorrow night as they face the Detroit Red Wings for the first time this season, where Tortorella hopes they will not need to rely on a coach’s challenge to decide the game.

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