I believe the Columbus Blue Jackets are a playoff-bound hockey team. But I also believe they need to make some serious changes to get there. The following are my opinions, some based on statistics, some from my observations, and some are pure opinion. Follow along and lets see how many you agree (or disagree) with.
I believe Todd Richards is not the right coach for the Blue Jackets. Here’s why: His record is barely over .500 at 119-109 including his time with the Minnesota Wild. He came into the league as a defensemen, and hasnt been able to pass the knowledge to his players. The Jackets rank in the bottom third in the league in goals-against and penalty killing. The team is a combined -9, and his defensemen are a combined -10 for the year.
I believe the Blue Jackets made a mistake letting Keith Acton go to Edmonton. Acton is a former NHL center with over 1000 NHL games under his belt. He scored over 200 goals and almost 900 points in his career. Keith has been an assistant coach since 1994. With all that experience as both player and coach, how could they let him go? The one year he was assistant coach with the Blue Jackets, they barely missed the playoffs. That should have opened some eyes.
I believe Dan Hinote should be head coach. If we can’t have Keith Acton, I believe Dan Hinote should be promoted. As an assistant coach for the last 4 years, Dan knows the players and the makeup of this team as well or beter than anyone. A right winger with over 500 NHL games to his credit, Dan knows what’s what on the ice and in the locker room.
I believe the Blue Jackets need to designate a captain now. The Blue Jackets have been with out a captain since Rick Nash left after the 2012 season. This team needs some leadership! Naming a captain is the quickest way to establish leadership in the dressing room and on the ice. I believe Brandon Dubinsky should be named captain, but it may well be Nathan Horton, Jack Johnson, or possibly someone else. I believe the captaincy should be the players choice, not the coaching staff. The players know who is a leader and who is not. The coaching staff can be biased and easily persuaded by other factors.
I believe the Olympic break will be good for the Blue Jackets. This team has no consistency at all. The team only has a season-best 3 game winning streak, which they’ve done twice. Why, I’ve seen the Jackets give up 3 power play goals in 2 games straight, then shutout the next opponent! How consistent is that? Or play like champions the first period then give up 6 unanswered goals in the final 2 periods to lose terribly. The Blue Jackets need some time to rest, get their heads on straight, and be ready for the rest of the season after Sochi. Only 5 Jackets players, none from the USA, will be in Sochi. Todd Richards will be there too, as an assistant coach. Exactly where he needs to be.
I believe the Blue Jackets should make some major trades now. Someone once said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results. I believe the same holds true for the Blue Jackets. If you’re going to keep the same players, I believe you’ll keep getting the same results. A major trade involving Jack Johnson maybe, or RJ Umberger should be made. Johnson has admittedly had an up & down year, which he credits as the deciding factor in his being left off the USA Olympic squad. Umberger hasn’t made an impact at all this year, having only scored 11 goals and 12 assists for 23 points on 74 shots. He is also -10 on the ice for the year.
I believe that if the Blue Jackets don’t make changes soon, they are going to dig themselves a hole they won’t be able to get out of for a very long time. I am a Blue Jackets fan, and I believe they can be playoff contenders. Do you?