Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Columbus: A great place to be an NHL coach

I've read with interest the chatter across the inter-tubes vis a vis the hiring of Steve Yzerman as Tampa Bay Lightning general manager and Columbus Blue Jackets General Manager Scott Howson's ongoing search for a (permanent) head coach.  My observation is that there is a tendency in both the fan base and media to automatically place Columbus behind other markets in terms of attractiveness to a possible coach.  This presumption of inferiority is confusing and deserves to be challenged.

I'll admit my bias toward Columbus to anyone willing to listen and honestly feel that Columbus should be one very attractive club for any prospective coach - at least as attractive as any current openings if not moreso.  Passion aside, step back from the situation and look at it objectively:
  • We have one of the youngest teams in the NHL (Average age: 26.3)
  • Only five players on the entire roster are 30 or older
  • Our youngest players arguably are among our most talented - Nash, Voracek, Brassard, Tyutin, Russell, Stralman and Mason are all 25 or younger - suggesting that the upside potential of this club is huge
  • Our prospect pool is far from depleted - Filatov, Calvert, Moore and Savard...not to mention the Blundens and Clitsomes that bounce back and forth between the AHL and the NHL
  • We have another potentially great draft coming up (#4 overall and 3 picks in the top 60), which will further develop our prospect pool 
  • We are roughly $10 million under the salary cap, and ownership has indicated a willingness to add salary if justified
  • We have a ridiculously patient ownership history that has been reinforced through the ongoing arena ownership/lease saga
  • We have a President/GM tandem that clearly has a plan and won't veer from it without...well, a losing streak of epic proportion (Sorry, Mr. Hitchcock)
  • We have one of the premier arena/training facilities in the country, one that other NHL teams are lifting up as an example 
  • We have a community that is one incredible sports town -- a powder-keg of a fan base that's waiting to explode in support of a consistent winner 

Now, let's compare Columbus against the other teams with coaching openings:

'09-'10 Record
'09-'10 Playoffs?

Gen. Mgr.

'09-'10 Avg. 
Other Issues
Columbus 32-35-15 No $10.144M 18/ $47.595M 15,416 Scott Howson (3 yrs) 26.3 Rebuilding well underway; Arena ownership/lease
Atlanta 35-34-13 No $9.794M 11/ $27.898M 13,607 Rick Dudley (New) 27.5 Moving candidate; Post-Kovalchuk rebuilding
New Jersey 48-27-7 Yes $1.95M 15/ $41.1M 15,535 Lou Lamiorello (23 yrs) 29.1 Historically winning franchise approaching transition
Tampa Bay 34-36-12 No $9.434M 12/ $39.606M 15,497 Steve Yzerman (New) 26.9 Rebuilding

What am I missing that makes Columbus the immediate second choice?

Sure, each team has their own potential positives and negatives.  Looking at it from this perspective, however, I can't see how Columbus is not at least as solid an option as any other available team for a coach-to-be, if not moreso.


[UPDATE: From the comments, note that Columbus is the number one sports town in America.  Just sayin'.]


  1. Not to mention, Columbus is a nicer city! :)

  2. I've been to Tampa - it's nice. A slower pace due to lots of retirees in Florida.

    Atlanta is nice if you can figure out how to avoid the gridlock.

    New Jersey is....close to New York? (If that trips your trigger.)

    But you're right, the quality of life in Columbus is at least as good as any of those communities. Property probably is cheaper than any other option (unless Tampa's housing market has collapsed in the mortgage crisis).

    And there's also something that I can't properly articulate about Columbus, but I'll try. This is one INCREDIBLE sports town, and it would just explode if/when the Columbus Blue Jackets went on a multi-year run through the playoffs. I was at last year's Game 4 at Nationwide, and it was ridiculous. Never seen anything like it. I hope Scott Howson is communicating that to these coaches.

  3. Don't forget this...


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