Tonight will be last game that I attend this season. I’ll be out of town for several weekends over the next two months, playing in adult and college alumni tournaments. I hope to blog more about the Blue Jackets, but as you probably have guessed, my heart just hasn’t been in it this season. But I do want to say something here; I hope the Jackets play hard in each remaining game and win. Because if they don’t play to win, then they are cheating all of us.
Giving up on the remaining games just to get a better draft pick is not the right thing to do. Do you really think a marginal player on the team would play below his abilities so the team can land a player who will then challenge him for his roster spot next season? A pro athlete has no job security at all. I know, most of us don’t, either. But if a player gets on the wrong side of Claude Noel or Scott Howson while in Columbus, their worst fear is that they end up in another organization where the old-boy NHL network has Noel or Howson or one of their buddies in place. The hockey world is a small place, after all.
No, I want the Jackets playing to win. And that means on and off the ice. I want the scouts to find the best players out there and the coaches to work hard with those individuals to make them good NHL players. The CBJ organization has to be honest and get the right players. Everybody in the world knew that Ken Hitchcock was not going to play Nikita Filatov, so why did they even draft him? There are plenty of 30 year-old 6’3″ 220 pound players available. With the young guys now playing regularly under Claude Noel, I wonder how things would be if Filatov was still in town. Look how well Kris Russell is doing now with a coach who trusts him and you have an idea.
You may think that I am endorsing Noel for the coaching job, but that is not the case. I’m sorry to say that the team needs to try someone else and for that matter, to clear out the assistants, too. Hire someone who Howson trusts and can work with and allow that person bring in his own staff. Because the clock is ticking on the franchise.
Next hockey season should be interesting in Columbus because we will have two new coaches here, one for the Blue Jackets and one for the Buckeyes. If OSU hires the right guy and the Jackets do more of the same old same old, Ohio State could grab the hockey buzz in Central Ohio and help send the Jackets packing.