Monday, January 9, 2012

So that's it

Out of ideas and way short on wins, Scott Arniel was shown the
door as head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
[Darn you, Columbus Blue Jackets, for dragging me out of my undisclosed location again.  Next time this happens, I'm taking someone quail hunting.]

So that's it.  The news is out.

The news is now a bit old, but it's still comment-worthy.  Scott Arniel has been "relieved of duties" as head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets.  Not fired, relieved of duties, which probably means that Arniel is going to be scouting KHL games in Magnitogorsk or something.

I will offer no eulogy on this blog for Arniel.  If you want to read what I and my compadres think of his performance as head coach, go read the last year and a half's blog posts.  It'll give you plenty to mull over.  Honestly, he might be a great guy (and I don't know that to be the case, but I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt), but he has not been anything resembling the coach that the Columbus Blue Jackets needs.

So that's it.  Buh-bye.

Todd Richards is the CBJ's
interim head coach.
Now, Todd Richards is the interim head coach.  While he's spouting off all the things that ticked off fans (who surely will be asked to renew season tickets and other ticket packages soon) want to hear, he also cannot run from his history.  In my estimation, Richards is only a step up from Arniel insofar as he, too, failed miserably in his first head coaching gig and now is taking a second bite from the apple.  Now, the question is whether he's learned anything from that experience.  I'm now firmly in the Missouri position: SHOW ME.

Problem is, the team is the same as it was last night.  And that team, be it the overly-protected and largely overpaid "young core" or the over-hyped new acquisitions, has demonstrably proven that it cannot Get It Done.  Individually, they might be terrific.  Together, they would have a hard time beating any professional hockey team on any given night.

There is a fundamental flaw in the way that this team has been constructed, and blame for that falls not on the coach but on the general manager.  And as I said in a comment to one of Gallos' fine commentaries, Scott Howson pretty much lost whatever touch he had in constructing the Columbus Blue Jackets roster when he decided that he had a better idea of how to build a winning hockey team than Ken Hitchcock (a guy who, you know, WON)...right about the time that Nikita Filatov was drafted and forced upon Hitch.  I likely will never concede that Arniel is a good head coach, but that fact that Ken Hitchcock couldn't get this team to play, let alone win, over time pretty much meant that the much less capable Arniel was set up to fail from day one.

So that's it.  Hit the reset button.

Perhaps the most telling (and perhaps talked about elsewhere, but I haven't bothered to read anyone else's commentary) point about the timing of this firing was that it coincided with 'senior advisor' Craig Patrick's first full road trip with the team - an accommodation to Howson, who wanted to watch the World Junior Championships in person.  That it took just one weekend with Patrick around for Arniel to get the ziggy tells me that Patrick may indeed be in a stronger position within the franchise than I figured from the public posturing about how he was hired to advise Howson (and only Howson).

It's time to clean house, perhaps with Patrick as the man to run the transition if not become the new Dear Leader for the Boys in Union Blue.  The team needs to seriously consider jettisoning that dysfunctional core, getting whatever the market will bear for a bunch of guys who largely haven't played up to their often-impressive contracts.  They need new personnel leadership to identify the talent that will work with whatever identity that this team settles upon.  They need strong and unflinching coaching to make sure that the vision is achieved...even if that means ruffling some feathers in the country club locker room.  And then they might get this whole National Hockey League franchise thing going in the right direction.

So that's it.  I'm getting back to my vacation.


  1. Here's one from left field, as it were: The CBJs best chance of trading Nash was last year to Toronto. A return on a trade this year will be far less than it would have been last year with Toronto.

  2. Nash/Mason for Luke Schenn + James Reimer STRAIGHT UP

  3. I love how these posts take such strange turns in the comment section. I mean, how what I wrote could turn into a discussion of how to move Rick Nash to Toronto....whatever.

    Anyway, I'll presume that Nash will fetch pretty much whatever he would have warranted at his height. Everyone knows that he has the tools - he just needs a real coach. Which he hasn't had since Hitchcock left.


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