Monday, December 12, 2011

The Long Climb to Respectability

Sergei Federov as a Blue Jacket
Now that it has faded from view a bit, I'd like to discuss the hiring of Craig Patrick as a senior hockey adviser for the Columbus Blue Jackets in the context of the franchise's history.  In the early years, I remember well that we had a roster of secondary players that was never able to generate the crazed and desperate energy of the inaugural squad.  We had drafted Nash and Zherdev, but they were young, and relatively unproven.  Then, after the lockout, early in the 2005-06 season, the trade for Sergei Federov was consummated.  This guy just oozed hockey respectability, and as such was a real addition to the roster.

After the 2005-06 season, Adam Foote was added to the roster as a free agent.  These guys were real, honest-to-goodness, hockey names, that carried instant recognition.  You will notice, of course, that the early steps towards respectability came through the acquisition of known players.  This, however, did not translate to success on the ice.  Thus, the franchise needed to make its next step towards respectability, the acquisition of Coach Ken Hitchcock.

Adam Foote as a Blue Jacket

Ken Hitchcock working the Blue Jacket Bench
Ken Hitchcock brought the respectability that a coach who has won a Stanley Cup demands.  Many have sought, few have succeeded.  (BTW Lindy, after all those overtimes, there was no way the refs were gonna wave that off).  Hitch fulfilled his expectations, by being the winningest coach in Blue Jacket history, and leading them to their only playoff appearance.

The point I wanted to make, is that the addition of Craig Patrick to the organization at the executive level is another one of these incremental moves towards respectability as a franchise.  This guy has an impecable hockey resume, part of which is experiencing both ups and downs.  In spite of the incredibly disappointing performance on the ice, the organization has strengthened itself in many ways during the 2011-12 season.  This will provide 'stiffness' for making the necessary on-ice changes to finally get the franchise to respectability in the Won-Loss column, the ultimate arbiter of respectability.  The Craig Patrick hiring was a definite step in this direction.


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