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Blue Jackets axe Richards as coach

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — After an 0-7 start, the Columbus Blue Jackets have fired coach Todd Richards and replaced him with John Tortorella.

Richards had been with Columbus since 2012, leading the Blue Jackets to only their second NHL playoff appearance in 2013-14, when they lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the opening round.

The team said Wednesday that Tortorella signed a three-year contract through the 2017-18 season. He will make his debut Thursday when Columbus visits Minnesota.

The Blue Jackets were expected to contend for a playoff spot this season. They are just the sixth team to open with seven straight losses. They were shut out by the New York Islanders on Tuesday night, and Columbus has been outscored 18-7 in the third period this season.

Tortorella most recently coached Vancouver in 2013-14. He led Tampa Bay to a Stanley Cup title in 2004.