What Are Realistic Expectations For New Head Coach Pascal Vincent?

By Will Chase on September 29, 2023 at 1:45 pm
Columbus Blue Jackets head coach Pascal Vincent at his introductory press conference.

Pascal Vincent finally got his big break as the head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The journey to this point was not expected, having to navigate the waters of the Mike Babcock episode that emerged right before training camp. But now Vincent is here and at the right time for the Blue Jackets as they close in on the start of the regular season.

Vincent has head coaching experience with the Manitoba Moose and had opportunities with the Blue Jackets over the past two seasons when filling in for Brad Larsen.

Vincent interviewed with the Calgary Flames over the summer but remained set to return to the Blue Jackets bench on Babcock’s staff.

Imagine if he had left.

The Blue Jackets hope to make an ascent up the standings this season.

It's been since 2019-20 when the Blue Jackets had a winning record and were in the playoffs. That was the COVID bubble year, and the Jackets have been trying to navigate their rebuild and trend back towards contention status since then.

We're going to find out how close the 2023-24 Blue Jackets are to being a serious contender in the league. Growth among the core is a start of what you want to see with this team for this season.

Can Cole Sillinger rebound from a year in which he closed out last season with the Cleveland Monsters?

Will Kent Johnson build off his 40-point season, and can Kirill Marchenko continue his rampant scoring pace?

Will the goaltending improve upon a disastrous last season?

These are just a few questions in which the Jackets hope to see positive responses and growth.

A Hall of Famer as a player, assistant coach Mark Recchi is in the fold and will help run the power play. The power play has needed work for a long time, but we did start to see improvement last season.

From Jan. 1 through the rest of last season, the Blue Jackets power play converted at a 20.2% clip, good for 17th in the league and just behind the Carolina Hurricanes (20.3%).

From Feb. 1 through the rest of the season, the power play was 13th in the league (21.1%). Mar. 1 through the rest of the season, they were 13th (22.2%).

Recchi scored 200 power-play goals during his illustrious 22-year playing career in which he ranks 19th all-time.

The 2021-22 Blue Jackets under Larsen were a fun team that scored nearly as many goals as they allowed. In 2022-23, amid loftier expectations after acquiring Johnny Gaudreau, the season was pretty much over as soon as it started, with a 0-3-0 start and 3-7-0 October mark.

Last season, the Jackets registered 59 points, a 22-point reduction from Larsen's first season. Contributing to the downfall was a franchise record for man games lost (563 games) leading to another franchise record in which the club started 47 different players.