|Mason making a save in Training Camp|
Hockey is the ultimate team sport. You all have to be playing the same system. The coach tells you what to do, and if you are a good hockey player, you execute that system in the belief that it will ultimately produce victory. Unless, of course, you are a Columbus Blue Jacket player. Then you know, in your heart, that what the coach is selling is not going to win.
I was at tonight's game. I have watched R.J. Umberger and Rick Nash play in lots of games. They had no spark tonight. They had no fire. And it's because they don't believe. They are experienced pro hockey players, who have beaten very good hockey teams in their tenure in Columbus. And they know in their hearts that what Scott Arniel is selling just isn't good enough. They know that the NHL coaches like Quenville can see right through this. They don't say this. That would mean that the coach has 'lost the room'. They don't dislike Arniel. They just know they are not going to win.
As an organization we have staked our future on Scott Howson's vision. In true Blue Jacket fashion, we have looked him to be a guy to 'take a step' as a short cut to systematically building a team. Scott Howson has some definite strengths. Judging defensive talent is not one of them. Wiz is fine. Carter is fine. These are some truly good moves. But a good defense knows that when a guy is all alone in the low slot, that it is a problem. But we seem unable to defend the good scoring areas.
Its one thing to give up prime scoring chances if you are getting the same thing on the other end. But our shooters are launching from the top of the circles, their shooters are shooting from the low slot. I know who I am betting on.
It is true that you can't judge a system in one game. Or two. But you can judge whether the players entrusted with playing that system believe in it, and play with fire and passion. The later emotions are missing from the CBJ team as a whole. Oh, they definitely care, and they try to play what the coaches are calling for. They just don't believe they will win with what they are being asked to do.
If you asked them, they would disagree. But I watched them skate tonight. Its not there (well except for the number one pick we would get if we didn't lose the lottery, so really its a number two pick).
Its time to turn the page. Organizationally, we need to start with the general manager. Then let him pick a coach. But the bottom line is the NHL coaches are beating our AHL coaches. It is time for a general manager who can pick an NHL coach who can allow us to win.
Hitch never should have been fired, though I cannot blame him for not letting himself be put in a position where Howson could fire him again. Fool me once, shame on you ....
But we need a real NHL coach in the organization. And we need a real NHL General Manager. Howson, unfortunately, has proved unequal to the highly demanding task.
The players don't believe any more. And their body language said as much emphatically tonight. The game demands a team approach. Let's give the players an approach that has some chance of winning. That should be done under the auspices of a new general manager. I am a big advocate of stability. But the worst record in franchise history is giving you a lot of information. Ownership needs to act on that information. The current staff's inability to find a successful approach means they are in over their head. We need someone who knows how to swim.