June 10 (UPI) — The Columbus Blue Jackets hired assistant Brad Larsen to replace John Tortorella as head coach, the team announced Thursday.
Larsen signed a three-year contract to become the Blue Jackets’ eighth head coach in franchise history.
“We underwent an exhaustive process in which we looked very closely at a number of outstanding candidates to be the next coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets, and the one individual we kept coming back to throughout was Brad Larsen,” Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said in a statement.
The 43-year-old Larsen has served as an assistant coach with the Blue Jackets for the last seven seasons, starting under Todd Richards for one year and then six seasons under Tortorella. Larsen primarily coached the team’s power play unit.
Larsen’s only previous head-coaching experience was from 2012-14 with the Springfield Falcons of the American Hockey League.
Before transitioning into coaching, Larsen had an eight-season NHL career as a winger for the Colorado Avalanche and Atlanta Thrashers from 1997 to 2008.
“Brad was one of the top young coaches in the American Hockey League when he joined our club as an assistant coach and over the past seven years has earned the respect of our players, staff and organization with his work ethic, hockey acumen and the way he treats people, and we couldn’t be more pleased to introduce him as our next head coach,” Kekalainen said.
Tortorella’s six-year tenure with Columbus ended last month after a disappointing season in which the Blue Jackets (18-26-12) finished last in the Central Division. He wasn’t under contract for the 2021-22 season.