Don Waddell had to move on from Blue Jacket head coach Pascal Vincent now

Regardless of any personal thoughts on the departure of Pascal Vincent from the office of Head Coach for the Columbus Blue Jackets, Don Waddell needed to make a move at the head coaching position. The organization needs a new direction and change in culture and Waddell is proving that the changes that will make this happen will go from top to bottom.
Tampa Bay Lightning v Columbus Blue Jackets
Tampa Bay Lightning v Columbus Blue Jackets / Jason Mowry/GettyImages

At exactly 5:00 PM on Monday, June 17th, the Columbus Blue Jackets announced via a press release that Head Coach Pascal Vincent had been relieved of his duties as Head Coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

This move comes less than two weeks into President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Don Waddell's tenure as the face of the club and after Waddell had the chance to conduct a thorough review of his staff.

The club indicated that no other moves in the coaching staff will be made now, so the jobs of Mark Recchi, Steve McCarthy, Jared Boll, Nicklas Backstrom, and others will be safe for now.

The dismissal comes less than one year after Vincent was announced as the Franchise's 10th full-time head coach last September, and Pascal has now become the third head coach fired from the Franchise since last summer, following Brad Larsen and Mike Babcock.

"“As I spent time with Pascal over the past few weeks, I found him to be an outstanding person and smart hockey coach who worked very hard last year under trying circumstances, but I believe a change behind the bench is in our team’s best interest. “On behalf of the organization I want to thank Pascal for his work ethic, professionalism and contributions during his three seasons with the Blue Jackets.”"

Don Waddell

Opinions on PV's tenure as the head coach of the franchise are mixed in the hockey community. He came with high marks for his character and poise from several members of the hockey community, including former Columbus interim head coach Claude Noel and the Florida Panther's Paul Maurice.

He also had a stellar reputation during his time serving as the head coach of the AHL's Manitoba Moose and the QMJHL's Cape Breton Screaming Eagles. Despite his qualifications, Vincent drew criticism and the ire of fans following controversial decisions to bench franchise headliners Johnny Gaudreau and Patrik Laine.

He also moved top prospect Adam Fantilli to the wing instead of at center at the NHL level, playing captain Boone Jenner for 20 minutes a night following a devastating upper-body injury. There were also decisions such as moving some young stars like Kent Johnson and Kirill Marchenko down in the lineup, or scratched entirely, often due to perceived poor play.

Regardless of any perceived pedigree from his hire and any questionable coaching decisions fans may have disagreed with, two things remain true: Don Waddell has the absolute right to bring in whichever head coach he believes will give the CBJ the best opportunity to achieve their long term goals. And, the organization needs to move on from the Jarmo Kekalainen era as they begin their cultural reset.

John McConnell, Mike Priest, and John Davidson would only have brought Waddell onto the staff and given him complete control over hockey operations if they had trusted him to make decisions for the benefit of the franchise.

Don Waddell
Anaheim Ducks v Carolina Hurricanes / Jaylynn Nash/GettyImages

Waddell has a lifetime of experience in the NHL and hockey, and it should be up to him to determine the best path forward with the players, coaches, and the remainder of the individuals on staff. Any new voice for a hockey club can and should make the changes they believe will be the best to guide that club into the future, and that is exactly what Waddell did following a long review of his staff and resources available to him.

On top of this, the franchise must take a new direction with its internal culture. The past several years following the dismissal of John Tortorella as the head coach of the team have been mired in mediocrity and constant drama in the front office.

During the past few seasons, it seemed that every other week, another story came out about a member of the team being unhappy or a questionable decision had been made by the General Management staff that the hockey community raise their collective eyebrows.

Waddell must make decisions to remove this aspect from the organizational culture and establish one of mutual respect, collective decision making and leading by example from the top down. More decisions will likely need to be made before we begin seeing some real change within the franchise, but this is just one step of many that Waddell will make to start moving this long-suffering club in the right direction.