“Be patient.” “We can’t be this bad.” 3-5 games ago, I would have believed it, that this was just a rough start out of the gate. The Columbus Blue Jackets, now sitting dead last in The Central Division, and in The NHL at 2-11-1, are just that bad. While if this team was a bunch of cheaply paid scrubs, I could at least semi understand it. But when you are paying $58,113,000 for a team that is 2-11-1, enough is enough, time for the hard hats, bring on the demolition.
The first thing we have to look at is the organization up top, above general manager and head coach, because when you want to turn things around, you gotta start at the top. Team President Mike Priest should be considered as one of the first to go. I realize that he is very close to the McConnell family as President of JMAC,Inc. But we really need to think about getting a hockey guy with a true hockey background in that position. Priest could still oversee finances, which he does a fine job at, but leave him out of the hockey operations. As hard as it would be for JPM to cut him loose, he should realize, Hitchcock hockey, is no longer Blue Jackets hockey.
Next to be put under the microscope, General Manager. Scott Howson helped build the team to the successful 2008-2009 campaign, this cannot be denied. However, since then, progress has been at a standstill. Draft picks are developing, many it is hard to tell if they were good or bad at this point (Johansen,Moore,Savard). The one big bust, Nikita Filatov, was at the time a good choice, but turned out to be a huge mistake, later traded for a 3rd round pick. With a few good moves through free agency and trade, Howson has also made his fair share of mistakes. Trading Rostislav Klesla, a decent defender with a small price tag despite his injury issues, for essentially nothing (Upshall and Lepisto, who both left through free agency). Allowing Manny Malhotra and Jan Hejda to walk, as well as claiming Ethan Moreau and Craig Rivet, both who proved to be useless to the team.
Behind the bench, Scott Arniel has to be feeling horrible, and as a fan, I can say he may just be a casualty at this point, it’s not his fault for what has happened. While the fresh offensive ideas were great for this team, the defense, has completely lost their role on the ice. The team gets caught cheating on passes way too much, constant odd man rushes against, including a 3 on 1 shorthanded goal against last night. And just constantly outworked, outhustled, and outscored. I can’t see Arniel keeping his job, and that makes me as a fan feel awful, just like with Hitchcock, the team has apparently just stopped listening. Rick Nash even said about The Flyers last night “The coaching staff warned us” but it was apparent nobody was listening.
Finally, on the ice, the last place this team should have to change anything. The defense, has just been absolutely awful, this team needs defensive defensemen on the ice. There are too many defenders who just do not know what they are doing (Aaron Johnson) on the ice. Our best players have to be our best players (duh) and Rick Nash, Antoine Vermette, and RJ Umberger, are not our best players, Vinny Prospal has been the best thus far, and that is completely unacceptable. While rumblings of moves have made their way through the internet, the man most likely to go in my opinion is Antoine Vermette, I wouldn’t rule out Brassard moving either, but that one I would say is less likely. Our goaltending duo, (including the merry-go-round backup position) needs to be fixed. Now, I do NOT mean trade or get rid of Mason. Mason isn’t at fault for the horrible D in front of him, but he has looked pretty bad at times, alot of the saves when the D would break down, used to be made, now, he doesn’t seem to be able to make them.
The storm clouds are brewing, change is coming. Change has to be coming, this team cannot afford to continue as is, there is no call up that will fix this, no minor move, a real change has to come, one that will fix the damaged flag that is still being carried by every loyal Blue Jackets fan. The fix might not be immediate, but in the long run, the change that is to come, will be worth it. Do not let this season’s start discourage you, keep cheering for the boys in union blue, no matter what comes our way.
LETS GO JACKETS!!!!!!!