They added one of the best offensive players in the world, and should be taking steps forward this season. Instead, they’re sputtering…
In my opinion, everyone has to share the blame for this situation. It starts with the GM, Jarmo Kekalainen, who has assembled a very talented team, but one that lacks talent in very key positions. There is nobody on this roster capable of playing center on the top line, and arguably the second line as well. Jack Roslovic is the most skilled guy we have down the middle, and he’s probably best suited in a third line role on a contending team. That’s not good.
The talent on defense looks good on paper, but there’s too much offense and not enough guys to take away time and space, or block shots. Let’s face it: offseason signing Erik Gudbranson is everything he was advertised to be, and that’s not a positive endorsement. He’s a bottom pairing guy at best, who was signed and is being utilized in a role he’s not capable of filling. Also, where is this physicality he’s supposed to bring? At least Mathieu Olivier is trying:
What salvages things for Jarmo here is that, while there are massive holes in the roster, he’s built a squad loaded with talent, and there are prospects coming along that should be capable of filling some of those roster holes. In my opinion, his job is relatively safe at this time.
The coaching staff, on the other hand? Not so much. Brad Larsen and his assistants have to shoulder a huge amount of this blame. While they’re in need of more top end talent on this team, it’s one that finished roughly .500 last season, with 81 points. They added one of the best offensive players in the world, and should be taking steps forward this season. Instead, they’re sputtering and look like a collection of players playing different styles, shift by shift. That’s on the coaching staff.
If you have watched the games, it’s clear that the players aren’t responding. Whether it’s a culture thing or a systems issue, there are serious disconnects going on here. They simply look like they don’t care, and in the end, that’s a culture you do not want creeping into any locker room – but especially one that’s loaded with young talent.
If they were losing games 3-2, 4-2, 2-1, etc … it’s one thing. But to be getting walked on a night by night basis, is unacceptable. A goal differential of -25 through 12 games is ridiculous, even for a team that is still very young. For this reason, I think the hottest seats in the organization, are behind the CBJ bench.
The question then becomes: who takes over? It’s hard to find coaches this time of year; the really good ones generally all have jobs. On a personal level, I’m definitely not calling for Brad Larsen to be fired. I think he’s a great guy and I hope he can steer it back in the right direction. But, it’s a results driven industry, and the results right now are ugly.