At woebegone Columbus, the Blue Jackets have a more modest goal for the veteran coach: Win a game.
Tortorella is back coaching in the NHL after the Blue Jackets fired Todd Richards on Wednesday with the team off to an 0-7 start.
Tortorella, who won the Stanley Cup with the Lightning in 2004, has been out of hockey since the Canucks fired him in May 2014 after one season in Vancouver. He takes over for Richards, who had been with the Blue Jackets since 2012 and led them to only their second NHL playoff appearance in 2013-14, when they lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the opening round.
"One of the problems right now is expectations," Tortorella said. "Expectations that weren't there last year with this club."
After a 4-0 defeat against the New York Islanders on Tuesday night, Columbus is just the sixth NHL team to open with seven consecutive losses. It's the Blue Jackets' worst start in franchise history, and their longest losing streak since dropping seven straight in regulation from Nov. 11-25, 2005.
That's not the type of start that was expected from a team that restocked its roster this summer after closing last season on 16-2-1 run.
"We're not responding the right way," general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said. "By no means does this let anyone off the hook."
Tortorella signed a three-year contract.
A source said his new deal is for the same terms and money that were left on his previous one with the Canucks, who are paying a portion of this contract. The Blue Jackets also will send a second-round pick to the Canucks as compensation, a source said. Columbus has until June 1, 2016, to decide whether that pick comes in 2016, '17 or '18.
Tortorella will make his debut Thursday when Columbus visits Minnesota. The Blue Jackets play seven of their next eight games on the road. Tortorella said he wanted to learn as much as he could about his struggling team.
"I need to listen," he said. "I want the players to speak to the staff just to find out where they're at."
With a 446-375-115 record over 14 seasons, the 57-year-old Tortorella is the NHL's winningest U.S.-born coach. Tortorella coached Tampa Bay for seven seasons -- compiling a mark of 239-222-36-38 and earning the Jack Adams Award as NHL coach of the year in the championship 2003-04 season.
"John Tortorella is an experienced National Hockey League coach with a proven track record of success," Kekalainen said. "He is a Stanley Cup winner, and we believe the right person to lead our team at this time."
Tortorella is suddenly in demand after his year off.
Last month, he was hired by USA Hockey to coach the American team competing in the NHL's World Cup of Hockey tournament next year.
Tortorella acknowledged spending the past year soul-searching to determine what he might have done differently in Vancouver. It was a season in which a second-half collapse led to the Canucks missing the playoffs three years after reaching the Stanley Cup finals.
"I have searched and looked at situations of what I could've done a better job there, and I do have some answers with that," he said. "So sure, I think you become a better coach when you dig deep."
He had at least one backer in the form of a fellow NHL coach: Claude Julien of the Boston Bruins.
"I've never had an issue with Torts," Julien said. "Anybody who knows Torts away from the game, he's a great guy. I know he's also a good coach. And there's been times where he's struggled with certain situations -- haven't we all? So I think he deserves that chance. And he's going to get an opportunity. Having said that, I feel bad for Todd. He's a good coach he really is a good coach and he had that team going in the right direction last year, and for whatever reason, something happened at the beginning of the year, and you know more than likely that team will find its path again and Torts will get the credit for it. So I think with time Todd probably would've been able to do the same thing but that's, I'll say it again, that's the nature of our business sometimes."
Richards finished with a 127-112-21 record with the Blue Jackets.
They have scored just 13 goals and have allowed an NHL-worst 34. Veteran goalie Sergei Bobrovsky is struggling with a 5.07 goals-against average and an 83.5 save percentage.
"We're going to spend time on how we play," Tortorella said. "It's about us, not so much what's going on with other teams."
TSN earlier reported the news of Richards' firing.
Information from ESPN's Pierre LeBrun, Craig Custance and Joe McDonald and The Associated Press was used in this report.