The Jackets are now on a five game losing streak, with three of those losses coming to new Metropolitan Division rivals. While the start of the season has been disappointing, it feels like the pulse of the fan base has reached a new low following last night’s loss to the Rangers. The Jackets now have 10 points on the season and are in 7th in the Metro Division, one point ahead of the Flyers.
We are now 20 days away from Thanksgiving, which is often considered the check point in the NHL Season where GMs determine who the real contenders are, and who is likely out. Right now, things are not looking good for the Columbus Blue Jackets, and the only real beacon of hope is that they are in the worst division in the league.
This morning the Florida Panthers (who also have 10 points and are in 7th) parted ways with head Coach Kevin Dineen, and have opted to promote their AHL staff. There were rumors that the Panthers were in discussions with former Flyers bench boss Peter Laviolette, but it looks like Laviolette will have wait a little bit longer for his return to the NHL.
Panthers management felt it was time for a change, and even told their season ticket holders to expect it. Jackets fans were also promised higher expectations this season from President of Hockey Operations John Davidson; so far, that has not been the case. I know it is a bit early to say, “same old Jackets”, but it is obvious this team does not have the fire and drive that we saw back in March and April.
In his post game comments, Dubinsky stated that the work ethic just isn’t there. In a post game interview with the Columbus Dispatch, Dubsinky said:
The work ethic just isn’t there. It should be the easiest thing to correct. I mean, really, it’s just embarrassing that we choose not to. I don’t know why. It’s flat-out embarrassing for us, the fans and the organization.
-Courtesy of the Columbus Dispatch
Coach Todd Richards seems to hold himself somewhat accountable for the current state of the team:
That was embarrassing hockey. Embarrassing hockey,” Richards said. “To me, that’s losing hockey the way we played. We got exactly what we deserved. Things have to change. I have to change. It took me — I don’t know how much time was left in the second period — to get a little upset on the bench, and the guys responded.
-Courtesy of Columbus Dispatch
While it is nice to see Richards take some accountability, why did it take until the 2nd period of what became a 5th straight loss to “get a little upset”? Columbus has been accused of having a country club atmosphere in the past, and it seems from Dubinsky’s comments that that may still be the case. The players like Coach Todd Richards, and it is not a bad thing to have a players coach, but it seems the CBJ may be taking advantage of this situation.
Now I don’t think it is time to pull the trigger on firing Richards yet, as Jarmo and JD have preached patience in the their “brick by brick approach”. Instead, I hope they give Todd Richards a chance to change his approach to the team and try to bring some fire to the locker room. I know Peter Laviolette is an attractive option, but the Jackets need stability. If Coach Todd Richards can help change the culture, then I would rather see them continue with their current coach. However, I think we have officially reached the point where Todd Richards is on the hot seat.