Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

John Tortorella becomes first American-born head coach with 500 NHL wins

VANCOUVER — The Blue Jackets made John Tortorella sweat for his 500th NHL win.

Columbus squandered leads of 2-0 and 3-2 in the third period before defenseman Seth Jones scored 46 seconds into overtime Sunday for a 4-3 victory over the Canucks for their ninth straight win.

Tortorella, 58, became the first U.S.-born head coach to reach 500 regular-season wins, and though he downplayed the accomplishment, Columbus captain Nick Foligno said it was a special moment when he handed the coach the game puck.

"That stuff is fun, yeah," said Tortorella, who took over in Columbus seven games into last season after Todd Richards was fired. (Richards is a Lightning assistant this season.) "I'll readily admit as I have gone through a little bit of a grind here the last few years and trying to get consistent with a team, I am trying to enjoy it more. … I know it's not going to be forever."

Tortorella earned 239 of his wins with the Lightning from 2000-08, a tenure that included winning the team's only Stanley Cup in 2004 before he was fired. "I have been so privileged to have the opportunity to coach as many games as I have in the league (1,040, also with the Rangers and Canucks)," he said after becoming the 24th coach with 500 wins. "That's what I'm so grateful for — just having the opportunity."

The win came in a place where Tortorella had one of his most forgettable seasons. He was fired after one year, 2013-14, as Vancouver missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

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