|And maybe, now, we might get it.|
My only direct interaction with Howson a little over a year ago at a ticket package holder event. I was allowed to ask a question of him in an open Q&A session. You can read all about it here.
I've had plenty of time to reflect upon that one question, his answer and the performance of the team since I heard what he had to say. My conclusion is this:
Scott Howson never had an overarching vision for what he wanted the Columbus Blue Jackets to become.
And it's not about just that one interchange. Howson never articulated a consistent vision that I could discern. And he's had at least four prime chances to do so.
Think about it. What is Detroit's vision? "Puck possession " What is Nashville's? "Build from the back out." Is it any surprise that the general managers of those teams - each successful by their own standards - have been in their jobs forever? They both have a vision and built their entire organizations to fulfill that vision!
When you have no guiding vision, you don't do much more than fix problems because there's no end goal in sight. You're always working in arrears, correcting the last mistake with the next move. Your lack of vision is reflected in the patchwork nature of your work product.
The only time Scott Howson had a working vision to follow in Columbus, he was working with Ken Hitchcock. Hitch knew the types of players he needed, and Howson went out and got them. Not surprisingly, the team made the playoffs for the only time in its existence.
But Howson and Hitch went their separate ways, and Howson was left to fend for himself. The results speak for themselves.
As a ticket package holder, one who has spent thousands of dollars paying for the privilege of watching this franchise over the past six-plus years, I am happy that Scott Howson was fired.
No, I am thrilled.
Moving forward, John Davidson articulated the beginnings of a working philosophy with his statement, "We'll never be outworked." Considering the lackadaisical attitudes that we fans have witnessed on the ice in the past, that's low-hanging fruit. Davidson surely had seen enough of the Blue Jackets from his time in St. Louis to know that the team hasn't necessarily had the fortitude to play for 60 minutes every night.
What we need now, though, is the next level of understanding. By necessity, the Columbus Blue Jackets have become a team of workmen - each being relied upon to be overachieving contributors for there is no star player to fall back upon. But with three first round picks in the forthcoming NHL draft and surely some players to be moved by the time the trade deadline passes, opportunities will present themselves to begin a true reshaping of the team into whatever Davidson and his new general manager choose.
But what will that vision be? What will this team become? That, my friends, is what we need to listen for over the days ahead.