Because his Columbus Blue Jackets had the highest points percentage in the division as of January 10, John Tortorella was named coach of the Metropolitan division All-Stars. He won't be coaching the game, however, because one of his five dogs is sick. When he also missed last night's game against the Nashville Predators, people initially thought something was gravely wrong with the pup, but it turns out Tortorella had to miss the game under a moderately obscure NHL rules.
In order to prevent players from skipping out on the All-Star game, the NHL created a rule a few years ago that requires players to sit out a regular season game, either before or after the All-Star break, if they are selected to the All-Star game but do not attend; those who don't face a one-game suspension. When Torts informed the league that he was going to use the break to tend to his ailing dog, he was held to the same standard. This was not clear at first and everyone started sending him concerned messages, so he had to clear the air.
"I appreciate so much the number of messages I have received since the announcement," Tortorella said. "But this absolutely is not an emergency. I want to clear that up.
"I needed a few days during the All-Star break—not having to go to the All-Star Game—to take care of something very important to my family and my son."
That something would be Emma, a 10-year-old pit bull that belongs to his Army Ranger son, who is stationed overseas. It's not an emergency, but Torts also said that he "needed to see this through."
We hope the pup is OK and Torts can get back to his normal routine of being pissed off at everyone.