Fans of the Columbus Blue Jackets know that Coach John Tortorella is a devoted family man. His son Nick is a US Army Ranger stationed abroad, so there was much concern and speculation when Tortorella announced that he would miss Thursday’s NHL All Star game and all of All Star weekend in order to attend to a “personal matter”.
Many feared that the family had received bad news regarding Nick.
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It turns out it was news about Nick’s dog, Emma – a 10-year-old red-nosed Pit Bull – that lured him home. Reports confirm that Emma is ill, but details about what she is suffering from have not been released. The coach responded to the incredible outpouring of support he has received since announcing he would miss the game via the Columbus Dispatch:
“I appreciate so much the number of messages I have received since the announcement, 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.”
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It turns out this isn’t the first time the NHL Head Coach has demonstrated his love for dogs. Tortorella and his wife Christine run The John and Christine Tortorella Foundation, which is devoted to helping children and animals in need. They believe in keeping dogs out of shelters and preventing euthanasia through rescue and education. The Tortorella family has five dogs of their own, all rescues.
The following PSA video features Tortorella speaking about the foundation.
The hockey coach has a bit of a reputation for being tough and unapproachable, but the following photo shows his softer side as he romps on the floor with a friend’s puppy. Looks like those tough-guy characteristics do not apply when he’s dealing with dogs!
The publicity surrounding his decision to choose his family over his job has been mostly positive – especially among dog lovers and those who have experienced the military deployment of a loved one.
What do you think about Coach Tortorella’s decision to skip the All Star game in order to care for Emma?
H/T to Columbus Dispatch
Featured Image via Facebook/Centre Ice Hockey