Do Or Die Time For The Columbus Blue Jackets

Before I even got out of bed this morning, rumors The Dispatch had reported that talks were in progress to demote/fire the Scotts:  Howson and Arniel due to, well, the terrible start to the season.  Several of my on-line brethren have given their opinions of this “bombshell” and the potential replacement GM, former Calgary GM, Craig Button, had tweeted that he had not been contacted by Columbus to replace Scott Howson.

I, like many others in CBJ nation, was wondering what Howson would do this off-season.  And, I , like many others, was excited for the new acquisitions to hit the ice and see what they could do.  There was a consensual howling for a top-tiered D-man; Howson came through.  For years, the faithful protested, Rick Nash needed a center to help his scoring ability; Howson fulfilled that wish.  He added another scoring threat in Vinny Prospal when Kristian Huselius (who does score, regardless of people’s personal opinions of him) hurt himself during the off season.  Howson re-upped Tyutin, who had played yeoman’s minutes during his tenure here, to play with Wiz; he signed Radek Martinek to play Marc Methot.  Howson signed an AHL stud in Mark Dekanich to back up Steve Mason, which was his “wildest” move. Can anyone argue that Howson did not fulfill the mandate which was given him?

I can’t.  I know what people said where the holes were and I know Howson filled them.  Sure, he gave up some potentially good players, but you have to give to get.  The holes were plugged and the masses were ecstatic.

What Howson couldn’t do, however, is make the players who looked so good on paper stay healthy and play well.  Staying healthy is a matter of luck during a season.  No one could have anticipated Dekanich’s high ankle sprain.  Martinek’s concussion and Methot’s thumb, were just the “breaks of the game”.   Motivating the players to play with heart, desire to win, and hunger, well, that is partly the coach’s job and partly the players’.

Which brings me to Scott Arniel.  I don’t know a thing about the man, other than he was brought in to implement his “up tempo” system to a team that sorely needed it.  I know the coach is the one who gets the blame when things don’t go so well, but is it really Arniel’s fault that this team is under-performing?  A coach can teach, can inspire, can yell, scream, plead, beg, but he cannot make the players play well.

Do I think the Scotts need to go?  No, I do not.  Each has done exactly what he was brought to Columbus to do.  This is not a coaching problem. What is ailing the team is not a lack of talent problem.  This is a will to win issue.  This is a pride issue.  This is a team issue and no matter of head office or coaching will help this team until each individual member decides he wants to win above anything else.

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