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Blue Jackets, John Tortorella reportedly parting ways; five landing spots for the veteran coach

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Blue Jackets, John Tortorella reportedly parting ways; five landing spots for the veteran coach

John Tortorella’s contract with the Blue Jackets expires this summer and The Athletic’s Adam Portzline is reporting that the veteran coach will not be re-signing with the team. The Blue Jackets’ season ended Saturday with a 5-4 overtime win over the Red Wings.

“People talk about a shelf life. I don’t think there’s a shelf life for a coach, but what I believe in is, is it the right fit?” Tortorella said postgame on Zoom when asked if he’d like to return next season. “I think the fit of the coach and the players and personnel, I think that’s the most important thing and that’s something (Jackets GM) Jarmo (Kekalainen) and I have discussed very honestly. Very honestly. I get it. Am I the right fit? These are the things Jarmo and I have talked about.

“I think this will come to a solution very quickly here.”

Tortorella joined the club after it started the 2016-17 season 0-7-0 under Todd Richards.

“John Tortorella is an experienced National Hockey League coach with a proven track record of success,” Kekalainen said at the time of the hire. “He is a Stanley Cup winner, and we believe the right person to lead our team at this time.”

While he didn’t lead the Blue Jackets to a Stanley Cup, he did steer the team to four straight Stanley Cup playoff appearances beginning in 2016-17. The team also had one of the greatest postseason performances in NHL history when it swept the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Lightning in the first round of the 2019 playoffs.

This season, the club finished last in the Central Division with an 18-26-12 record. It marked the first full season in which the club finished under .500 with him at the helm. It didn’t help that the year started shakily with disgruntled forward Pierre-Luc Dubois wanting out of Columbus. He was soon sent packing, but the player for whom he was swapped, Patrik Laine, also seemed to struggle under Tortorella.

Tortorella will leave with a 227-166-54 record for Columbus. Across four teams (Lightning, Blue Jackets, Rangers and Canucks) he has posted an overall record of 672-541-37-132 record and holds the record for most wins among U.S.-born coaches.

While he noted that he joined the Blue Jackets as an older coach, it doesn’t sound as if the 62-year-old wants to hang up his whistle just yet. With that, here’s a quick rundown of five possible landing spots for the colorful coach:

New York Rangers

If David Quinn is shown the door, then could there be a return to Broadway for Tortorella? He did post an impressive 171-118-1-29 record and led the team to four postseason appearances — including a conference final in 2012. Oh, and guess who was captain for him during some of his tenure . . . the guy who was just named the team’s GM and president, Chris Drury.

Vancouver Canucks

Like Tortorella, Travis Green is not signed beyond this season and there could be a vacancy in the Pacific Northwest. The Canucks and Tortorella also have some history — one 82-game season that was, well, interesting, to say the least. Maybe the duo are due for a re-do?

Arizona Coyotes

Bench boss Rick Tocchet is also unsigned beyond this season and he could be shown the door after four seasons in the desert. Tortorella could fit here with the team’s mix of young and veteran players.

Seattle Kraken

All signs are pointing to Gerard Gallant heading to the NHL’s newest club but Tortorella could land here if GM Ron Francis wants to veer off course.

Dallas Stars

Could the Stars part ways with Rick Bowness after the team followed up their trip to the 2020 Stanley Cup Final by missing the postseason? Maybe. Tortorella does have some history with players like Joe Pavelski (Team USA).

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Why did Rick Carlisle return to Pacers? Roster, familiarity — and the money helps, too

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Why did Rick Carlisle return to Pacers? Roster, familiarity — and the money helps, too

Rick Carlisle is the head coach of the Pacers … again.

The championship-winning coach who recently parted ways with the Dallas Mavericks has reportedly signed a four-year, $29 million pact to return to Indiana’s bench, per ESPN’s Tim MacMahon.

Carlisle signing this quickly with a team was a mild surprise, signing with the Pacers even moreso. While the Pacers parted ways with head coach Nate Bjorkgren soon after the final whistle blew on Indiana’s season, no real reports suggested Carlisle’s candidacy before news of his hiring broke on Thursday.

Here’s what we know about the hiring:

Why did the Pacers hire Rick Carlisle?

While the money certainly helps — the deal keeps Carlisle in the top 10 highest paid coaches in the Association — familiarity helped play into the decision, as well. Carlisle has two prior tenures in Indiana; First, between 1997 and 2000, when he was an assistant coach under Larry Bird. The second stint was as the team’s head coach between 2003 and 2007.

During his tenure, Carlisle helped guide Indiana to a central-division crown in 2003, and in four total seasons, the Pacers made the playoffs three times and the Eastern Conference finals once (2003).

Carlisle figured to be the hottest coaching commodity on the market for any number of teams looking for a new head coach, but the Pacers acted “quietly and quickly” to get Carlisle in their building, per Adrian Wojnarowski, putting off several other interviews to bring him and ink him to a deal.

The landing spot was attractive to Carlisle, as well: Speaking with ESPN’s MacMahon, Carlisle liked the roster built by GM Kevin Pritchard and what they could be moving forward.

“It’s a team of skilled, unselfish guys that play hard,” Carlisle said to MacMahon. “It’s always possible that moves could be made before the season, but I think [GM Kevin Pritchard] and I are both very excited about getting the roster healthy and seeing what this team can be.”

Carlisle and the Mavericks agreed to part ways on June 17 after another early-playoff exit, losing in seven games to the Clippers. Carlisle spent 13 years patrolling the bench for Dallas, winning an NBA championship in 2011. In all, Dallas made it to the playoffs nine times under Carlisle, losing in the first round in seven of those trips.

Multiple reports indicated organizational turmoil within Dallas’ front office, though owner Mark Cuban vehemently denied the rumors. The Athletic detailed the dysfunction in June. 

 

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Lionel Messi gets surprise birthday wake-up call from Argentina teammates at Copa America

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Lionel Messi gets surprise birthday wake-up call from Argentina teammates at Copa America

Let’s be real: No one likes to be woken up on their birthday. Except for world soccer star Lionel Messi, who even posted the video to his 221 million Instagram followers.

His teammates did him the honors on his 34th, walking into his bedroom with a surprisingly on-tune birthday song and adidas bags full of gifts that garnered a few laughs. There was something that looked like a cologne bottle, a pack of cornmeal, some wine and a bottle of holy water, which must be an inside joke.  

“Starting off my birthday with the boys, and receiving a few gifts,” he wrote. “Thanks a lot for making this day special, although I can’t be with my family, who I miss so much in these moments.” 

When you’re the greatest soccer player on the planet, you probably don’t mind that the world sees what you look like when you get out of bed, or the fact that you sleep with giant player cutouts above your bed. Granted, it’s not his personal bedroom — he’s in camp with Argentina for the Copa America in Brazil, where they apparently require the players to sleep in Argentina gear. 

Messi’s hoping his stay in Brazil will be remembered for things other than his birthday wake-up call. He’s trying to win his first Copa America with Argentina (it would be the country’s first since 1993) and in the process, he’ll be setting a record for most all-time appearances in an Argentina shirt. 

It’s a big year for the 34-year-old. His contract with FC Barcelona also expires on June 30 and the world will be watching to see what decision he makes on his club future. Many expect him to stay with the only team he’s ever known as a pro, but it’s unclear how the financial troubles plaguing the organization could affect his thought process. If Barcelona can’t pay the salary he’s seeking, or the team can’t pay for a high-level supporting cast around him, he could decide it’s best for him and the club to move on. 

For now he has some cornmeal to cook up. 

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MLB world unites to slam hideous All-Star Game jerseys: ‘Worst baseball uniforms I’ve ever seen’

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MLB to move 2021 All-Star Game to Coors Field, reports say

A swing and a miss.

MLB All-Star Game uniforms oftentimes have some kind of tie-in to the town in which its played. Or, at least, it used to be that way.

This year, MLB and Nike paired up for new All-Star Game unis and they look like they were ripped from a late 1800s game of polo, with a middle-school student slapping some generic clipart font on the front with team abbreviation.

MORE: 7 players we want to see in the Home Run Derby

According to Chris Creamer of SportsLogos.Net, the uniforms will be worn during the All-Star Game, while players uniforms of their natural team will be worn during the Home Run Derby.

The hats, on the other hand, are fine, utilizing the purple (Purple Mountain’s Majesty, and all) on the star highlighting the team logo on the front.

This year’s All-Star Game shifts from Atlanta, Ga. to Colorado after MLB pulled out amid the introduction of Georgia’s controversial new voter laws, which many see as a clear attempt at voter supression.

MLB fans and analysts alike took to the Tweet machine on Thursday to crack jokes and voice their displeasure with the uniforms:

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