|I have no photo of Jared Boll. |
As in, never have taken a photo of Jared Boll.
A frequent on-ice pugilist (and occasional victor), Boll played in 54 games last year. His playing time was limited due to broken thumb from slugging Carolina's Byron Allen in the preseason (out from October 1 through November 10th) and a broken foot from blocking a shot against Dallas (out from February 10th through March 11th). He had two goals, one assist and 126 PIMs last season. He now is on track to average over a million bucks a seasons. Yup.
As I type, the Blue Jackets have 22 men on their roster. Eight of those players (Boll included) have seen a whopping four different people serve as their head coach since the beginning of the 2009-10 season. 21 of the 22 experienced the 2011-12 season in Columbus first-hand. As it stands, it's hard to see how this team isn't headed for anything meaningfully different than the 18-21-2 pace that we saw during the interim head coaching tenure of Todd Richards.
CBJ general manager Scott Howson promised a "reshaping," not a "rebuilding," of the Blue Jackets following their three-year descent from the Stanley Cup playoffs into the NHL sub-basement. To this point (emphasis intended), "reshaping" is starting to sound a lot like "adjusting player salaries to fit comfortably in a salary cap that rose by roughly six million bucks, presuming we don't do anything with the salary cap via a lockout or a new CBA." Gulp.
A compelling demonstration of change has not been presented thus far. There was an expectation of change, of improvement, if only from an organizational commitment to avoid the humiliation of another 30th place finish. Howson himself has spoken to the need to elevate expectations in the wake of last season. When I compare deeds against words, however, I am increasingly perplexed and even more fearful than I was back at the beginning of the month.
The free agency signing period starts tomorrow. Rick Nash still doesn't want to play in Columbus any more and one would think has to be traded before the opening of training camp. It's plausible to think that other players could be traded as well, but the limited action with roster trades thus far makes me think that, well, the rest of the league isn't all too keen in stopping at Columbus' farm market if Nash isn't in the basket.
Free agency and trades have the potential to offer sweeping change, although with 22 players now under contract, it'll be a touch trickier to pull that off. By sweeping change, I'm talking forwards (yes, plural) who can score and a goaltender that doesn't inspire indigestion. (And without any good reason to do so, I'll bow to conventional wisdom and pray that the defensive corps - with or without top draft pick Ryan Murray - is solid enough to permit Howson to focus on the gaping wounds both in front and behind the blue line.)
There still is time. Please, Blue Jackets, get this team on the right track.