John Tortorella becomes first American NHL coach to win 500 games

World Cup Of Hockey 2016 - Media Day

In the history of the NHL, 23 coaches had reached the 500-win total prior to Sunday. Every single one of those 23 coaches was born in Canada.

However, on Sunday, Columbus Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella became the 24th member of the 500-win club and is the first American-born coach to accomplish the task.

By picking up a 4-3 overtime win at Vancouver (one of Tortorella's previous coaching stops), the longtime coach made history.

Following the victory, Tortorella told that the milestone victory was very important to him and he appreciates everyone who helped make it happen:

"I'll readily admit that as I have gone through a little bit of a grind here the last few years and trying to get consistent with a team, I am trying to enjoy it more," Tortorella said. "I am on the back nine. That's just the way it is. I know it's not going to be forever, so I do want to try to enjoy it.

"I don't think it's an individual thing, wins and losses. It's a team thing. I've been so privileged to have the opportunity to coach as many games as I've had, and to get this opportunity here with this club, that's what I'm so grateful for."

Tortorella began his head coaching career in 2000 with Tampa Bay, taking over in the middle of the season as a replacement after the Lightning fired the previous coach. Three years later, he led the Lightning to a Stanley Cup victory. 

He also has coaching stints with the New York Rangers and Vancouver Canucks on his resume. Now, he's in his second season with Columbus.

Blue Jackets left winger Brandon Saad said this moment meant more to Tortorella because of the hot streak the team is currently enjoying:

"We got him the puck and he's excited," said Brandon Saad. "But right now, he's more excited about the way our team's playing."

Tortorella won't be the only American coach with 500 wins for long - Nashville's Peter Laviolette has 490 career victories.

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However, with Tortorella's Columbus squad having won nine straight games and sitting in third place in the Eastern Conference, he should be able to extend his victory total over Laviolette and the struggling Predators this season.

He still has a long, long way to go if he wants to reach No. 1 on the all-time coaching wins list, though. The legendary Scotty Bowman (born in Canada, of course), who coached from 1968 to 2002, has a whopping 1,244 career victories.

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