Lightning-Blue Jackets: What John Tortorella’s pep talk did for Columbus

The Blue Jackets responded to their coach’s profanity-laced pregame talk by falling behind 3-0 before rallying to win Game 1
Left wing Nick Foligno (71), left, celebrates with goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (72) after Columbus' 4-3 win over Tampa Bay in the first round of the NHL playoffs Wednesday in Tampa. DIRK SHADD   |   Times
Left wing Nick Foligno (71), left, celebrates with goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (72) after Columbus' 4-3 win over Tampa Bay in the first round of the NHL playoffs Wednesday in Tampa. DIRK SHADD | Times
Published April 11

BRANDON — Coach John Tortorella’s fiery speech to his Blue Jackets on Wednesday, caught on camera and played back by the team’s television network, offered a glimpse into Torts’ master motivational approach.

It, however, was not the difference between the team’s play in the first period, when Columbus fell behind by three goals, and the inspired play in the final 40 minutes that fueled the Blue Jackets’ 4-3 win over the Lightning. Tortorella gave his speech pregame.

"Yeah, I wish we could have said it was after the first period," Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno said.

The speech, tweeted out by Fox Sports Ohio after the game, was delivered in an expletive-filled fashion that only Torts can deliver.

"It got bleeped out a lot, right?" Foligno deadpanned.

Tortorella’s potty-mouthed pep talk — which included seven f-bombs — focused on telling his players to stand up strong against the NHL’s top team in the regular season, to throw out the matchups and the X’s and O’s, and have faith.

“It just naturally makes you play with that edge and emotion, and he’s a guy who brings that out of us,” Foligno said. “He’s an unbelievable motivator. He’s a guy who wears his heart on his sleeve and in a game like that, you knew he was going to come with that passion because that’s what he wants for us.”

In the first 20 minutes, Columbus looked overwhelmed and overmatched. Its rally over the next two periods, which included three three-period goals, was one of determination and resilience.

"He just wants us to reach our potential, to stand in there knowing we’re up against a really good team, Foligno said of Tortorella. “But we have to have that confidence as well. You look at him and nobody’s going to pick on his teams and he’s not going to let anything be taken for granted.”



Tortorella’s first intermission speech focused less on the three-goal deficit than being more aggressive.

“It was more about getting engaged in the game and the battles," said defenseman Seth Jones, who scored the game-winning goal on the power play. "They won a lot of one-on-one battles in the first period and most of them turned into scoring chances for them. So we wanted cut down on those and just get more physical and aggressive.”

Contact Eduardo A. Encina at [email protected]. Follow @EddieInTheYard.

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