Sunday, November 06, 2011

My Plan For The Columbus Blue Jackets

The time has come for the first GM to be fired this NHL season.  That distinction should go to Scott Howson of the Columbus Blue Jackets.  His plan of bringing in higher salaried players has backfired so far this year.  Did you know that the Blue Jackets are the sixth highest in payroll at this point of time?  They have $81,000 of cap room.  That means that the Columbus Blue Jackets are paying salaries of around $64 Million this year.  And for what?  A 2-11-1 record.  5 Points.  And already 6 points behind the 14th place team in the West.  Might have to start calling them the New York Rangers of the West.

Anyways, I would keep coach Scott Arniel for the time being.  He has the confidence of the players in the room.  The Captain, Rick Nash, has publicly come out in support of the GM and coach.  The coach deserves to stay, the GM not so much.  And if you bring back Ken Hitchcock to coach after firing him, you just get the problems of the past couple of years back in the locker room and the players will continue to resent him.  Stick with Arniel for this season.  See if he has the chops for actually coaching an NHL team.  You can fire him easily enough after the season is over.

Whoever the Blue Jackets bring in as the temporary GM, the first thing that they need to do is try to find a trading partner that will take Steve Mason.  His confidence is shot in Columbus, the fans are turning on him after a couple of lackluster seasons, and he is now starting to let in the more than occasional soft goal.  If this season is lost, then trade him for prospects (if someone will give them up), do an internal audit of how a Blue-Chip prospect like Mason failed and change the way that the Goalies are trained and handled in the minors as well as the NHL level.  Then play the two goalies that you hope will be the keepers of the net for the next 5 years and let them have a shot at seeing what the NHL level is all about. 

The team needs to think about players before they start signing them.  The top line for the Blue Jackets right now is LW Vinnie Prospal, C Derick Brassard, RW Rick Nash.  Which one of these players should actually be on a Top line?  The 2nd Line doesn't look much better.  LW Matt Calvert, C Antoine Vermette, RW Ryan Johanson.  I didn't realize that this was the AHL.  I understand that C Jeff Carter and LW Kristian Huselius are currently out, but that doesn't plug most of the holes in the Top 2 lines.  And the defensive corps have been atrocious this year so far.  Switch them with the AHL kids, and the AHL corps might actually perform better.

So in short, fire the GM for assembling this lackluster crop of Blue Jackets, find a trading partner for Steve Mason, keep Scott Arniel for the time being and start focusing on getting the talent out of the players in the minor leagues.  They have tried the last step for years and could never get the talent to develop where others thought that the players could be.  Evaluate how you are doing things down in the minors, change it, and develop those players that should be able to help you within the next couple of years.  If that isn't possible, then trade your most valuable trade chip in Rick Nash to a team for high end prospects.  Otherwise, the team will continue to flounder and there is no one else to blame besides the people in the Blue Jackets organization.


Anonymous said...

I wouldn't mind seeing Rick Nash in a Toronto uniform. We'd likely have to trade Clarke MacArthur, Nazem Kadri and Luke Schenn for him but I doubt that would happen.

Brent said...

That would be a steal on the level of The Leafs-Bruins Kessel trade in favor of the Leafs.