Monday, June 7, 2010

Guy takes a pass

(Pardon me while I get my last look at my Guy Boucher graphic.  I really liked how that turned out.)

After a whirlwind weekend of public speculation over what the parties involved surely hoped would be a private dialogue, it appears that Guy Boucher has walked away from negotiations with the Columbus Blue Jackets and will not be the team's next head coach.

My take: Hiring Boucher represented the biggest risk Howson could have taken.  From his past record with other teams, it's very possible to presume that Boucher could have taken the Blue Jackets to incredible heights in a short period of time.  At the same time, Boucher has a unique system that apparently has not been tried much in the NHL (beyond some tinkering by Dallas' reprehensible coach, Marc Crawford).  If it didn't work, and if Boucher started getting real frustrated with that lack of success, what would he do?  Where would he turn?  He's a younger man (38) and has not tasted coaching failure.  It's not too hard to see such a scenario turning sour real quickly.  But that's not an issue any longer as Boucher is out of the running.

Now the naysayers will come out and say that it reflects poorly on Columbus (Oh, I'm sorry, they already came out.).  I'm not willing to buy that.  First, Boucher took a whole weekend-plus to decide on an offer after 2 interviews.  That does not scream "Undivided interest" to me and - if you will permit me to speculate - suggests that Boucher played Howson's offer against someone (His current employer, the Montreal Canadiens?  The other NHL teams that are looking for a coach?).  Or perhaps he was really torn about leaving the AHL for the NHL after only one year.  Remember, Boucher has turned down coaching offers earlier in his career.  So I can't say as I'm entirely surprised that this happened.  At the same time, it was a risk on Howson's part, one that he apparently felt was worth taking.

So we now move to the next phase.  I'm going to discount the whole "laugh at Columbus" thing because I still believe that Columbus is a great place to be an NHL coach.  I believe that Scott Howson has positioned the team well for the years ahead and has amassed an impressive core of young talent.  And, honestly, there are many, many more coaches interested in coaching in the NHL than there are jobs. Whomever finally answers Howson's call is going to be damned glad to be in Columbus and will be amazed that anyone would have turned away from such a great opportunity.

Columbus deserves a coach who wants to be in Columbus.  Boucher apparently didn't when faced with the possibility.  Onward and upward.  No need to hover at the ledge...

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