COLUMBUS—Sometimes it helps just to hear something from someone other than a coach. Martin St. Louis provides that someone for the Blue Jackets.
Columbus hired the former Lightning winger as a special teams consultant on Jan. 21. At that point, the Blue Jackets sat at 28th in the league (14.6 percent). In the nine games since then, Columbus has scored on 27.8 percent of its chances, good for fifth over the last month.
“It’s helped,” coach John Tortorella said before Monday’s game against the Lightning. “Marty brings in just a different look. He brings in a voice that’s not a (darn) coach telling you what to do. It’s a self-made Hall of Famer, that’s played all different types of power plays and has succeeded.”
That street cred counts among players. St. Louis had an existing relationship with winger Cam Atkinson (he lives in Atkinson’s hometown) and already served as a mentor. Now, other players are seeking St. Louis out for guidance as well.
When they hired him, a move Tortorella calls a coup, the Blue Jackets thought St. Louis would come in and do a little work on the power play. His role has become bigger.
St. Louis has only been to Columbus twice – spending time with his sons is a high priority – but he continues to work with players remotely. He watches video and talks to them on the phone.
“He’s involved in everything, just teaching players what it is to be an offensive player,” Tortorella said. “ ‘Why are you standing on the outside, why don’t you jump into this hole here.’ ”
He made sure to point out that the credit doesn’t all go to St. Louis, though. Assistant coach Brad Larsen leads the power play. He and St. Louis have worked together, going over video daily and discussing different ideas. St. Louis offers fresh eyes and recent playing experience.