The axe came down on Blue Jackets head coach Scott Arniel today, bringing the total number of head coaches fired this year to a whopping seven. It is hardly a shock that GM Scott Howson decided to get rid of Arniel considering that Columbus is languishing at the bottom of the standings. But it is somewhat surprising that it took the franchise this long to scapegoat Arniel as the goat for the terrible personnel decisions that the team.
It seems convenient to blame the coach for his inability to lead a team to victory when his roster is littered with malcontents and misfits. Columbus went off the board in 2010 to draft Ryan Johansen 4th overall, when Jeff Skinner was still available. While it is still early, 14 points for Johansen and 57 points for Skinner looks to be slanted in favor of the kid in Raleigh. Then there was the disaster of an offseason that Scott Howson had this past year.
Jeff Carter much preferred life in Philly
Howson felt for some reason as if the Blue Jackets were on the cusp of great things, so it was time for his to go out and sell the future for the present. He gave up on former 7th overall pick Jake Voracek and threw in the 8th overall pick this past year in exchange for Jeff Carter. Party boy Carter has no interest in playing in Columbus, and he quietly let that be known upon his arrival. So he dragged his feet to 17 points in 30 games on the season before dislocating his shoulder last night.
The 8th overall pick in this past years draft turned into Sean Couturier, who has shown flashes of being a young Jordan Staal, and is sure to be a cog in the Flyers lineup for the next decade. But such a pick was deemed expendable by Howson for some reason.
Not only did Howson, the former Edmonton Oilers management genius, swing a deal for a terrible overrated and overpaid player in Carter, but he went out and broke the bank on a terrible overrated blueliner as well. How better to ruin any hope that your young franchise has of building anything than to trade away a high pick, a cheap young player and sign a journeyman who had an outlier of a season?
Howson wishes Wisniewski was good
James Wisniewski on a 6-year $33 million contract is nothing short of ridiculous. Sure he had a nice season last year with the Islanders and the Habs, but his previous career high was 30 points. So it only makes sense to give the 27-year old average blueliner as much money as Seabrook, and more than Doughty and Lidstrom. Perfectly logical for a team with no identity to give a flash in the pan that much money.
Then there is the disastrous situation between the pipes. Steve Mason was good for one year, then he was average. But for some reason the Jackets decided to stick with the youngster despite being incapable of getting his GAA below 3.00 and his SV% above .901. Those are borderline average numbers, and teetering towards below average. Howson made the not so shrewd move of bringing in Curtis Sanford to get peppered with shots, and he has remarkably outperformed the former Calder Trophy winner.
Columbus brass have failed to do anything productive with their picks, trades and free agent moves in recent years, and instead of showing the man who makes the moves, Scott Howson, the door, they send coach Scott Arniel packing. They have given Derrick Brassard the old run around this year; some nights playing top-six minutes while other nights struggling to crack the lineup. Ryan Johansen was supposed to step in and make a big impact this season, but instead has been playing fourth line minutes.
Quick, name the Jackets leading scorer this season. Times up. Everyone knew it was Vinny Prospal. The Jackets are a team in disrepair, and they are headed straight for the basement of the league with little in the way of hope for the future. They have Rick Nash locked up at $7.8 million per until 2017-2018, Wisniewski at $5.5 per until 2016-2017 and Jeff Carter at $5.27 per until 2021-2022. Yes, another decade of Jeff Carter not caring at all in Columbus.
The Jackets have 27 points through 41 games on the season, and they are staring the draft lottery in the eyes. They badly need some scoring help, and they are in line to take one of Yakupov, Grigorenko or Forsberg in the draft. Whether or not any of these studs would like to play in Columbus will be seen, but at least they will get another piece of a somewhat convoluted puzzle. Unless of course they decide to trade the pick away for a overpaid veteran that has no interest in playing for the team.
Blame the coach. Because he is obviously the one who put this team together and set them up for disaster.