Blue Jackets to Have New GM and Coach in Place by Monday?

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It’s being reported by multiple NHL sources, that Columbus Blue Jackets team President Mike Priest has contacted Ken Hitchcock about returning to coach the Jackets. Priest has also contacted former Calgary Flames General Manager (GM) Craig Button about assuming the reigns as the Blue Jackets GM.

For a team that’s off to a woeful 1-9-1 record, particularly ironic when you consider they have the NHL’s 4th highest payroll (Let’s not forget they have the NHL’s 4th worst home attendance mark), something has to be done and done quickly.

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Did the Columbus Blue Jackets Lose Their Opporunity?

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Given the Columbus Blue Jackets ignominious descent toward the bottom of the Western Conference rankings—the sad reality of a recent 6-14-3 free-fall, the second in as many years following a stellar start—Blue Jackets General Manager Scott Howson has been actively burning cell phones around the NHL in an attempt to salvage yet another disappointing season.

While you would struggle to determine where to start in fixing this team, its most glaring need is the lack of offensively-minded defensemen, those adept at puck movement through all of the zones, quarterbacking the team’s power play and having a slap shot capable of both getting to the net and creating the opportunity for the Blue Jackets’ forwards to crowd the areas around the opposing team’s goal.

By Ed Cmar

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Columbus Blue Jackets: How to Guide to Stopping the Swoon

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During the 2009-2010 regular season, the Columbus Blue Jackets opened the season with a franchise-best record of 12-6-2. However, what followed was a horrible 3-14-7 tailspin which not only took the Blue Jackets out of any chance of returning to the Stanley Cup playoffs, but it also cost their head coach, Ken Hitchcock, his job.

After last season’s terrific start, the next 12 games set the tempo for what was to follow, as the Blue Jackets posted a 2-6-4 record. Analyzing how this could have happened really wasn’t that difficult, as the Blue Jackets, while winning, were doing so by the narrowest of margins. When they lost, it was usually of the blowout variety.

Specifically, the Blue Jackets abandoned Hitchcock’s tight-checking, defense-first, attack the neutral zone only when a fail-safe situation occurred. This resulted in the Blue Jackets giving up several odd-man rushes on defense. And although their morbid power play rate skyrocketed from one of the worst in the NHL, it also resulted in giving up an inordinate amount of shorthanded goals.

By Ed Cmar

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From Russia with Loathe: What will Blue Jackets do with Filatov?

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Towards the beginning of the 2009-10 season, I wrote an article which assessed Nikita Filatov’s departure from the Columbus Blue Jackets only 19 games into the season:

While Filatov hasn’t defected back to the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) and while Filatov’s issues don’t stem from a coach who isn’t known for being open-minded and patient with younger players, once again Filatov and the Blue Jackets, who drafted him with the sixth overall pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, are at the crossroads.

Filatov returned to the Blue Jackets after spending the remainder of the 2009-10 season with both his assigned KHL team—CSKA Moscow, as part of a loan agreement between the Blue Jackets and the KHL team—and the Russian World Junior Championship (WJC) team.

The experience of his return to Russia was not without controversy as it was rumored that his experience in the KHL was less than positive, to the point that Filatov is not exactly welcomed back with open arms.  Additionally, Filatov was stripped of his captaincy during the WJCs, only adding to the speculation that his only available option was to return to the NHL.

By Ed Cmar

Columbus Blue Jackets Unfortunately Reverting Back to Familiar Form

Grading Blue Jackets Coach Scott Arniel

CBJ

During the offseason, Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson, after being informed that his leading head coaching candidate, Guy Boucher, turned down his offer to coach the Blue Jackets (Boucher took the Tampa Bay Lightning head coaching position, instead) offered the position to Scott Arniel, previously an assistant to Lindy Ruff with the Buffalo Sabres and the head coach of the Manitoba Moose of the American Hockey League (AHL).

Many in Columbus viewed the offer rejection as a snub and a slap in the face to the state of the organization and perception of Columbus in the National Hockey League (NHL).

Further, it was believed that Arniel might have been a case of settling for second best.

Well, although at only 19 games into the season and while Boucher is doing a fine job in coaching the Lightning, it’s looking more and more like the Arniel selection was the right choice, after all.

By Ed Cmar

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