I read with great interest the fan reaction to the Columbus Blue Jackets' hiring of Todd Richards as "permanent" head coach. (Not that it matters for this piece, but my piece at DBJ+ shows that I don't mind the hire.)
Seems like, from what I've read, there are a few aspects to the hire:
- Was Todd Richards the right guy? Other candidates surely were available; in fact, CBJ GM Scott Howson said in the Richards presser that 8-10 potential candidates called the team to express interest. Then, there's the question of whether other coaching shoes were still to drop (like the Oilers' release of Tom Renney today). Lastly, there's the whole question of whether keeping the coach is truly indicative of heightened expectations.
- Should the formal interview process have been skipped? Howson revealed that while the 8-10 people contacted the team, they did not conduct any interviews. Does Richards' 18-21-2 record deserve a fast track to the job without even cursory interviews of other candidates? Is the current CBJ management so secure in their decision-making when it comes to coaching hires, and does their track record warrant such confidence?
- Why is Scott Howson still around? I've gone over Howson at length, but the fact that he ran the press conference opens all the slow-healing wounds of a healthy contingent of the CBJ fanbase.
- What was Craig Patrick doing there? Putting aside his odd performance at the presser, there's the real question of why his presence was required in the first place. Is Howson in charge, or isn't he? Does Patrick's presence undermine Howson's legitimacy?
|Have fans given up on|
GM Scott Howson and the rest of the CBJ
hockey operations team?
The problem for the franchise is, in my estimation, that this type of reaction (with many of the same aspects of fan response) likely will come at every turn until the on-ice performance improves. By that, I mean events like:
- The draft - Will they get "the right guy"? Will they give up enough/too much to get what they wanted? And who is "the right guy" considering the team's needs?
- The seemingly inevitable Rick Nash trade - Will they get enough? Will the return help the team enough? And what exactly is enough?
- Free agents and other trades - What about the guys the CBJ will inevitably miss out on? Were the guys that they acquire enough to get the team out of the cellar?
Every strategic move that this team makes should be expected to get questioned harshly until things turn around. Sadly, this management team has squandered any entitlement to automatic fan support. They're reaping what they've sown.
Until the team wins, and consistently, I fear what we saw is what we'll get. And the winning won't start until October at the soonest. I don't envy the folks on Nationwide Boulevard.