Blue Jackets Reportedly Closing in on an Extension with Assistant Coach Brad Larsen – Right or Wrong Decision?

By Sam Blazer on May 24, 2018 at 2:38 pm
Coach Brad Larsen talks to the media after a game

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It's the offseason, so let rampant speculation and prognostication begin! 

A recent report from The Athletic's Aaron Portzline says that the Columbus Blue Jackets are closing in on extending assistant coach Brad Larsen's contract. This comes after the Blue Jackets were in the bottom-third of the league in power play efficiency last season; in fact, the entire special teams operation was anything but special.

It begs the question: should the Blue Jackets should be looking elsewhere for help?

Just looking at the individual contributions, it was the Artemi Panarin and Seth Jones show. Anything else coming was secondary. It was based around two solid players but other than that, the power play unit didn't have a lot of juice to it. Looking up and down the roster, they are completely filled with offensively skilled players.

How were they so poor?

It naturally comes pointing back to the coach that put them in that position. For much of the season there was tinkering with the formation and the personnel, and the only two constants for most of it were Panarin and Jones – they stayed in the same position. Everything else was moving around them and there was little consistency.

It can be blamed on the personnel just as much as the coach. Who are your weapons? Alexander Wennberg was gone for large chunks with injury. Oliver Bjorkstrand didn't score many goals during the second half of the season. Just from first to second place in scoring, it's more than a 20-point difference. 

It's a lot of column A and column B; the Blue Jackets likely need to change up their power play and some players who struggled are likely to bounce back. The Blue Jackets under-performed often on the offensive end, but if they can close both gaps, it isn't far-fetched to see the team improve on special teams without changing much.

It won't be the popular choice, but it could pay dividends in the end for both the team and coach.

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