The Columbus Blue Jackets are another team looking for a new head coach after agreeing to part ways with John Tortorella when his contract expired this season. Recently reports emerged that former Arizona Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet would interview with the Blue Jackets, but he’s not the only one. Aaron Portzline of The Athletic reports that Gerard Gallant has already had his interview, while David Quinn and Brad Larsen have also interviewed or have one scheduled. General manager Jarmo Kekalainen also told the Hockey Wanderlust podcast that he would consider Finnish national coach Jukka Jalonen.
Jalonen has never worked in the NHL, but certainly has a resume to consider. The 58-year-old has won the Liiga championship in Finland, secured Olympic, World Championship, and World Junior medals, and has been a successful head coach in the KHL as well. There have only ever been two European-born and trained head coaches in the NHL, which perhaps makes the likelihood of Jalonen taking the job in Columbus low, but he’s an interesting name nonetheless. An interview for Jalonen has not been confirmed.
Of course, there are plenty of experienced NHL coaches on the list Portzline reports. Gallant and Tocchet, in particular, seem to be targets of several organizations, but Larsen also has the advantage of being part of the organization already. The 43-year-old has been an assistant with Columbus since the 2014-15 season and has experience as a head coach in the minor leagues.
After a brutal season that saw the Blue Jackets drop to last place in the Central Division, whoever takes over will have his hands full. Columbus has some strong building blocks but needs a lot of refinement on the fringes of the roster in order to really compete for the Stanley Cup.