When things aren’t going the right way, you take a step back and evaluate. If things aren’t any better after a certain point, you might want to research that famous quote about ” Not letting any grass grow underneath you.” When that happens, nine times out of ten, your on the outside looking in. Or in the Columbus Blue Jackets case, your looking up at 29 other National Hockey League Franchises. It’s that bad in Columbus, bad enough where a coaching change has cost Head Coach Scott Arniel his job this morning.
“We had two wins in our last 11 games,” General Manager Scott Howson told reporters today. “I just wanted to move the team in a new direction with a different Head Coach. Scott tried everything and he was running out of answers. I didn’t see much hope in moving forward with him. I just felt this needed to be done.”
After acquiring Center Jeff Carter from the Philadelphia Flyers and signing unrestricted free agent James Wisniewski to a 6 year contract worth 35 million, there were high hopes from the fan base in Columbus, that these impact players would arrive in Columbus and add a much needed offensive presence. Expectations from the ownership group were much higher.
At the end of the day, poor performances by the team overall, an eight game suspension for James Wisniewski to start off the season and injuries to Jeff Carter, hindered the ability for the team to ever acquire an identity. And with that, Scott Howson explains the delay in bringing in a new leader behind the bench.
“I divided our season into three parts,” Howson said. “The first part, we had a tough start, I didn’t think it was a fair basis of evaluation because of the Wisniewski suspension and all of the injuries. Really, if you look at our record from the middle of November to the middle of December, it was pretty good. We were playing good hockey, playing better defensively. I think we were 7-5-3 in a 15 game period. Since then, we have only had two wins and our game seemed to be regressing, so I thought it was time to move the team into a new direction.”
Howson was asked about the reasoning behind waiting so long. Why not do this several months ago?
Howson went on to remind the media that he believed that question was already answered. Apparently he was sold on the idea of the Columbus Blue Jackets improving their play enough in November and parts of December, that they would creep out of the basement and make a mid season run for not only an identity, but a position in the Western Conference much closer to the playoff picture, then the top pick in the 2012 draft lottery. The latter is where they currently are positioned.
At this point, a more realistic way of looking at this is, Scott Howson simply giving Scott Arniel enough time to attempt to fix this, so it wouldn’t fall back on Howson as a failure. Time is valuable in an 82 game schedule, it wasn’t used wisely.
As for the Newest Head Coach with an interim tag?
Todd Richards, who joined Arniel’s staff in the summer of 2011 as an assistant, will remain behind the bench on an interim basis as the newest head coach. Lot’s of work to do for the former coach of the NHL’s Minnesota Wild and Wilkes Barre Penguins of the American Hockey League.
“I’ve got a list of to do’s,” he said. I don’t think it’s big changes. It’s little tweaks, little things here and there.”
A native of Crystal, Minnesota, Richards had a record of 77-71-16 before being removed from his duties.
A brief timeline since Scott Arniel was named head coach of the Blue Jackets in June of 2010.
- Guy Boucher was offered the head Coaching position prior to Arniel, but chose to Bolt to Tampa Bay.
- Scott Arniel was offered the Head Coaching position on June 8th, 2010.
- Scott Arniel was relieved of his Head Coaching duties on January 9th, 2012.
- Todd Richards was named interim Head Coach on January 9th, 2012.
Todd Richards has his work cut out for him, that much we know. From now until the end of the 2011-12 season, more changes will be made. It’s time to get it right in Columbus. Scott Howson is on the clock to do just that.
Follow me on Twitter @ DarrenCoslov