Breaking down the 3 former Blue Jackets general managers, and setting the expectations for the next one

The Columbus Blue Jackets are about to hire the fourth GM in their history. What better time to look back and reflect upon the other guys who have been here? And if we're going to do that, let's set the expectations for the next person.
2010 NHL Draft - Round One
2010 NHL Draft - Round One / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
1 of 4

Doug MacLean

Those of us who have followed the Blue Jackets since their inception, would probably rather skip this section. In fact, if we could delete anything from this franchise's history, I think many of us would go back to February 11, 1998, and do whatever was in our power to prevent the team hiring MacLean in the first place.

It made sense at the time. MacLean had been the head coach of another recent expansion team (the Florida Panthers), and had a long career in hockey leadership.

Things started off well enough for Doug and the Blue Jackets. Actually, their first year in the NHL was generally viewed upon as a success for an expansion team. Attendance was strong (as one would expect from a shiny new sports team); and the team's blue collar, defense-first structure was easy to get behind.

Goaltender Ron Tugnutt immediately became a Columbus hockey legend, winning 22 games for the expansion Jackets. They drafted an apparent future #1 defenseman (Rostislav Klesla), and had a thrown together group of mostly solid veterans.

Unfortunately, everything from year 1 on, was mostly downhill for the Blue Jackets under Doug MacLean. Any positive move to fill roster holes, was typically met with two negative moves on the other side.

The MacLean era was marked with questionable decisions and impatience throughout the entire organization. The Jackets would sign veteran players whose best days were behind them, and throw them into vital top line roles. The worst thing: most of them weren't even former stars. You can run through another fan's rundown of his moves here.

MacLean would acquire draft picks, only to turn them into missed opportunities. When they did draft well, they rushed nearly every prospect straight into the NHL - in prime roles - only to see their development stunted by playing against the best players in the world.

The dysfunction at the top of the organization eventually came to a very public head, when MacLean firmly told a media person that he would not hire Ken Hitchcock to coach his young players - only to introduce Hitch as his new head coach just days later. At that point, the writing was on the wall.

MacLean was fired as the GM of the Blue Jackets at the conclusion of the 2006-07 season. The team's record under his management was a dismal 172–258–62 (.349%).

MacLean's best move: trading up at the 2002 NHL Draft to select Rick Nash first overall. Nash wrote the CBJ record book, and remains the greatest ambassador for hockey in Central Ohio.

MacLean's worst move: allowing Ray Whitney to walk to free agency. Or, is it drafting Gilbert Brule in 2005, when every scout he had told him to take Anze Kopitar? Or, is it... you know what, nevermind. There are a lot to choose from here.

In the end, Doug MacLean's legacy in Columbus is very tainted. It wasn't all bad; he did build this franchise from the ground up and outside of the team on the ice, there were some things to like. But, if you can't win games, you get replaced. Let's look at his replacement.