Friday, February 5, 2016

Connecting the Dots

Sergei Fedorov was inducted into the Hall of Fame this year, a well deserved recognition.  Back when they released the original third jersey, I got one with Fedorov's name on it, a real beauty that I have worn pretty much all year in celebration of his accomplishment.  In what I think is a somewhat ironical note, the only Blue Jacket or former Blue Jacket official that Fedorov invited to his induction ceremony was "Big Summer" Barry Brennan, the former strength and conditioning coach during the Maclean era, and replaced by Kevin Collins during the Howson administration.  Collins joined the organization in June of 2010.

I started thinking about this a lot after I listened to the DKM Hockey Podcast #51.  During an interview on the podcast they talked about some of the longer term issues with the franchise, and it piqued my interest.  The coach with the longest tenure in the organization is the strength and conditioning coach.  Technically, this is the guy that should have the least amount of clout as well, and I know nothing as to whether this is the case, or not.  But he has survived the firing of both Arniel and Richards, and the results during this time have certainly been checkered.

The fastest start in franchise history occurred in Collins first year, when Scott Arniel's team started with a franchise best start of 14-6-0 in 2010-11.  However, Collins did not come on board until June, so the off season training would have already been set.  The following year, the CBJ had a disastrous start, and in 2011-12 the Blue Jackets were out of the playoffs by Halloween.  Scott Arniel did not survive this season, but in a familiar refrain, the CBJ finished strong under interim coach Todd Richards.  In 2012-13, the CBJ started poorly, but roared down to the finish of a truncated season following a lockout to miss the playoffs on a tie-breaker.  The strength and conditioning coach was unable to influence the players conditioning, and the CBJ certainly touched the bottom in 30th place that year before they got rolling.

In 2013-14, the CBJ started poorly again, but not so poorly that their annual late season charge was enough to get them into the playoffs.  In 2014-15, the CBJ got off to a miserable start, in 2015-16, they got off to another miserable start, which Todd Richards did not survive.  Now John Tortorella is coach, and is finding the teams conditioning wanting, and the CBJ were out of the playoffs by Halloween again.  Even if the CBJ made a move on this, Collins will still set the off-season regime again this year.  Torts is probably going to have some influence on it however.

One thing is clear.  The collective bargaining agreement does not require the players to pay attention to the strength and conditioning coach in the off season.  Joey was free to train in Vancouver.  Bobrovsky trained in Russia.  I think Cam Atkinson was skating with Marty St. Louis (could be wrong about that).  Several of the young guys stayed in Columbus and trained, and they seem to be doing okay.

So there is a fairly conclusive body of evidence that the team is simply not ready to play at the start of the season.  There's a lot of people with skin in that game, and laying it on the guy who stands on the bottom rung of the ladder just seems wrong.  On the other hand, this is a results driven business, and the results have been consistent and bad.

Jared Boll would never have made the Blue Jackets if he hadn't stayed in Columbus one year with "Big Summer" Brennan, and he had a huge summer, and made the team.  When was the last time you heard about someone on our team having a big summer?  So it makes you kinda wonder.

GO JACKETS!!!

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