COLUMBUS, Ohio — John Tortorella hoisted a Stanley Cup in Tampa Bay and led the New York Rangers to the verge of a championship berth.

At woebegone Columbus, the Blue Jackets have a more modest goal for the veteran coach: win a game.

Tortorella, a former University of Maine player, is back coaching in the NHL after the Blue Jackets fired Todd Richards on Wednesday with the team off to an 0-7 start.

“He’s proven he’s a good coach,” said center Brandon Dubinsky, who played for Tortorella with the Rangers from 2008-12. “He’s going to help our group. Unfortunately it’s going to be at the expense of a great person and a great coach (but) we got another one. We’ve got to step up for him.”

Tortorella, who won the Stanley Cup with Tampa Bay in 2004, has been out of hockey since the Canucks fired him in May 2014 after one season in Vancouver.

Richards had been with the Blue Jackets since 2012 and led them to only their second NHL playoff appearance in 2013-14, a first-round loss.

“One of the problems right now is expectations,” Tortorella said. “Expectations that weren’t there last year with this club.”

Columbus is just the sixth NHL team to open with seven consecutive losses. It’s the Blue Jackets’ longest losing streak since November 2005.

“It was a tough start,” right wing Jared Boll said. “Everything kept snowballing and losses kept piling up. It’s still only seven games.”

That’s not the start that was expected of 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 and will make his debut Thursday at Minnesota.