Thursday, November 16, 2006

It's Blue days in Columbus

There's been an interesting discussion going on the last 24 hours or so over at Globe on Hockey on the Columbus Blue Jackets, and just what needs to be done to turn things around with the club that's become a perennial bottom feeder.

Maple Leafs columnist David Shoalts kicks things off with some insight into the Ken Hitchcock rumours and how safe general manager Doug MacLean's job is (answer: not very):
Hitchcock is supposed to be the top choice for the vacancy and the Philadelphia Flyers have already granted permission for MacLean to talk to him. But if he agrees to go to Columbus, Hitchcock will never agree to clear almost every decision with the boss. As anyone who knows him knows, Hitchcock runs his teams his way and his way only.

So if MacLean hires him, then he is well aware that only a playoff berth will save his own job at the end of the season. Then again, MacLean said as much the other day when he was asked if McConnell said he was on notice.

“They (the owners) haven’t said that, but I don’t think there’s any question that that’s the way it is,” MacLean said.
The Hockey News' Ken Campbell responds, saying he feels bringing in Hitchcock would be a good move, given the group of players the venerable coach would have to work with:
All that talent, so few results. How can a team with Sergei Fedorov, Rick Nash, Nikolai Zherdev, David Vyborny, Anson Carter and Fredrik Modin be so inept offensively? Any team that loses 1-0 to the Chicago Blackhawks should have to turn in its charter membership in the NHL.
And me? I just can't help but feeling for the fans, guys like Drew and Mike who like hockey but have been stuck cheering for a dog of a team the past six years. Turns out Columbus is a great hockey market that's really turned out to watch NHL hockey... now they just need a decent product to root for, something they haven't gotten under MacLean:
Consider this: Even though MacLean and company have essentially run the team into the ground — the closest the Blue Jackets have been to making the playoffs was their inaugural season when they missed by a mere 19 points — people keep turning out to watch this team. Attendance numbers are beginning to sag, and are down to an all-time low this season (16,576 per game, which is still 18th best in the league), but Nationwide Arena averaged more than 97-per-cent capacity for the team’s first five seasons.
All I know is that I'm looking forward to the day when Columbus can finally get to the postseason, as with Atlanta poised to do so this year, the Blue Jackets will be the last team that hasn't made a trip to the dance.


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