This morning, the usually rational Dispatch writer Michael Arace wrote a piece comparing the 2010 Blue Jackets to the Minnesota Wild of last season.
The Wild instituted a seismic change in the summer of 2009. It parted ways with the only coach the franchise ever had: Jacques Lemaire, the famed French trapper. Minnesota fired its original general manager, Doug Risebrough, and replaced him with Chuck Fletcher. Fletcher hired young Todd Richards as the new coach, and Richards came in preaching an up-tempo style.
In Richards’ first season, the Wild scored 219 goals, allowed 246 and missed the playoffs by 11 points. The previous season under Lemaire, the Wild scored 219 goals, allowed 200 and missed the playoffs by two points.
Oh yeah, Arace later whines about not having Kevin Dineen back in Columbus. I don’t see the same thing that Arace does because the Wild really never had an offense last season. They got rid of Marion Gaborik (taken ahead of Klesla) and bet on a Koivu brother for scoring. Imagine the Blue Jackets trading Rick Nash and then trying to score more goals. I know, but death is not an option.
The Jackets are an unknown at this time. They might still be a Ken Hitchcock team with the addition of the little Russian kid. They might be an NHL version of the Manitoba Moose. But it is too early to label them. We might not find out until January how they play. Speed is critical in the NHL, like it always has been, and we shall see if the team can keep up with the rest of their Conference. I’m going to withhold judgment, not because I’m lazy, but I simply don’t know what to believe. Was last year’s team good enough to try them again this year? Did the rest of the NHL hold steady, so the Jackets merely followed course?