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Michael Arace | John Tortorella’s pal Barry Trotz has surprising Islanders atop Metro – Sports – The Columbus Dispatch

The Blue Jackets, two days soon after playing host to the Washington Capitals, entertained the coach who led the Caps to the Stanley Cup previous spring. It’s Ghost 7 days at Nationwide Arena. All which is missing is the phantom of Phil Kessel and the wraith who, on April 23, 2009, whistled Fred Modin for way too a lot of guys on the ice.

The Jackets stood tall and shut out a exhausted bunch of Capitals on Tuesday. It was a come to feel-excellent victory for the fans — who continue being haunted by the way the Jackets collapsed in opposition to the Caps in the initial round previous yr. Lest any individual has forgotten, the Caps arrived again from a two-zip collection deficit, defeat the Jackets in double overtime in Game 3 and went on to gain the Cup.

 

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As Jackets coach John Tortorella advised The Athletic previous summertime: “If we gain Game 3, we gain that collection and Barry Trotz is fired.”

That is a tiny razz for an aged mate — and a major “what-if” scenario. As it turned out, Trotz resigned his publish with the Caps a week soon after they gained the Cup. He was a absolutely free agent for all of 3 days, or until finally the New York Islanders snapped him up.

“I’m on the Island and I’m hunting ahead,” Trotz mentioned Thursday early morning. “No hunting again. There are no what-ifs. There is just now.”

These Islanders are one particular of the greater stories of the year. They went through an Artemi Panarin-kind circumstance with superstar heart John Tavares, missing him to Toronto and regrouped below Trotz. The Islanders, in a surprise, are on prime of the Metropolitan Division.

Trotz goes way again with Tortorella. They notify stories of their days coaching in the American Hockey League, when Monthly bill Clinton was president. There is this amusing one particular about sharing a constitution aircraft all through the 1995 Calder Cup playoffs, and how Trotz plopped himself down subsequent to Torts and tried using to smile and gab Torts to loss of life. It nearly worked.

“To me it was just having fun with the journey … but ordinarily you really don’t journey on the very same aircraft, so, yeah,” Trotz mentioned with a sly smile. “He likes me though. I like John, way too.”

Tortorella’s Rochester Individuals defeat Trotz’s Portland Pirates in 7 online games in 1995. Twenty-four many years afterwards, Tortorella has 607 NHL victories, two Jack Adams Awards and a Stanley Cup title. And Trotz has 796 NHL victories, one particular Adams and a Cup. He is soon to become the fourth coach in league historical past — at the rear of Scotty Bowman, Joel Quenneville and Ken Hitchcock — to access 800 victories.

Trotz’s most up-to-date victory was classically Trotz. The Islanders applied 200 toes of nearly continuous tension, buttoned up the passing lanes and pounced on their opponents’ faults. They sucked the lifetime out of the Jackets, and the arena.

“They participate in with each other, they participate in linked and they participate in for each and every other,” Jackets defenseman Seth Jones mentioned. “Their function ethic is some of the most effective I’ve noticed this yr. … (Trotz) is a excellent coach.”

Tortorella has been chatting about discovering some regularity on household ice. He’ll speak about it once more subsequent week.

The Jackets are in a tricky extend of their routine. Upcoming is a video game at Chicago, in opposition to a surging Blackhawks staff, on Saturday. Soon after that, they’ve received the league-foremost Tampa Bay Lightning at Nationwide on Monday night time. And so on.

In the meantime, the Feb. 25 trade deadline is drawing ever nearer. Wherefore Bread? Bob? What is the staff heading to glimpse like on Feb. 26? Will they be in the very same course as Trotz’s Islanders?

marace@dispatch.com

@MichaelArace1

 

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