As the Blue Jackets continue to narrow their search for a new head coach, we’re profiling the likely top candidates for the job and offering pros and cons to each potential hire. Obviously, we have no insider info here and these names are just rumors and speculation – but, let’s discuss…
At the top of this list is a potential in-house hire: Pascal Vincent. We have seen a lot of positivity and negativity in regards to this idea, and it’s easy to see both sides of this. As we are frequently remembered, when the team last made a coaching hire (John Tortorella), it spelled the end for one of the top young up and coming coaches in the league (Jared Bednar).
The Jackets had a nice run of success under Torts, but Bednar got the last laugh, leading the Colorado Avalanche to a Stanley Cup last spring. Those of us who have been around the franchise for a long time know this sting, and we have to wonder how much differently things could be if they had promoted from within when they fired Todd Richards in 2015.
The parallels here are similar, but not identical. Pascal Vincent has only been with the Blue Jacket organization for two years, serving as an assistant coach. Prior to that, he spent 10 years with the Winnipeg Jets organization, serving as an assistant coach for the NHL team, and a head coach in the AHL. This after a very successful run in the QMJHL, serving as coach and general manager of the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles.
At 51 years old, he’s no spring chicken – but in the grand scheme of coaching candidates, he’s the young, inexperienced upstart, who is looking for his first opportunity to lead an NHL squad. I have wondered if the Jackets might have brought him over from Winnipeg on the back of a promise to eventually get that shot here. After all, he seemed to be the heir apparent to Paul Maurice in Winnipeg.
The benefit for the Jackets here would be two-fold. They would have a coach who saw the issues plaguing this team last season first-hand, who could make his own adjustments to try and fix things from within. He’s had a history of doing that well at each level, and would have the opportunity to grow with the team, as opposed to bringing an imposing presence to the group.
Secondly, he probably comes in a lot cheaper than an external or higher profile candidate. This maybe appealing to ownership, who will still be footing the bill for Brad Larsen through this season.
My gut says they have at least seriously considered giving Vincent the job. They thought highly enough of him to bring him into the organization two years ago, in spite of the fact that they couldn’t meet him in person. Vincent probably has the inside edge on this job, unless someone else wows them enough to change their minds.