Tortorella was fired by the Canucks in May 2014 following a 36-35-11 season and missing the playoffs less than one full year after signing a five-year, $10 million deal the previous June. The Blue Jackets hired Tortorella in October 2015 after Todd Richards was let go as head coach.
Teams receiving compensation for hiring coaches or executives who had recently been fired wasn’t a particularly popular rule and it ended up being a relatively short-lived one. The policy went into effect on Jan. 1, 2015 but by that December the NHL’s Board of Governors had decided to eliminate it.
However, since Columbus hired Tortorella when this compensatory draft pick policy was in place they still have to pay up. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported back in 2015 that the fact the Blue Jackets had to give the Canucks a future second-round pick in order to hire Tortorella nearly prevented the deal from happening.
Tortorella has since found success with his new team. The Blue Jackets finished with the fourth-best record in the NHL this past season and Tortorella was named a finalist for the Jack Adams Award as the league’s top coach.
Columbus wasn’t the only team affected by this policy. The Toronto Maple Leafs had to compensate the Detroit Red Wings (even though Mike Babcock wasn’t fired), the Edmonton Oilers had to compensate the Boston Bruins for hiring Peter Chiarelli, and the Buffalo Sabres had to compensate the Pittsburgh Penguins when they hired Dan Bylsma.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman stated on multiple occasions in the past he wasn’t a fan of the rule.