Continuity, For A Change, Benefits The Blue Jackets With Management and Coaching Staff Secured

By Rob Mixer on September 12, 2018 at 6:09 pm
Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen addresses the media at media day in Columbus, Ohio.

Remember the good old days?

Alright, maybe they weren't all that great.

Scott Howson did many good things as GM of the Blue Jackets – but the mess left behind by Doug MacLean took too long to clean up. Howson's biggest mistakes were in hiring coaches and he was never able to find a long-term solution; he inherited and then fired Ken Hitchcock, had Claude Noel as an interim, then hired Scott Arniel after being turned down by Guy Boucher, and eventually promoted Todd Richards from assistant coach.

That revolving door was a sore spot for the Blue Jackets as they sought to get their footing in the NHL after nearly a decade of sputtering along. 

Now with John Davidson in charge, Jarmo Kekalainen in his sixth season as general manager and John Tortorella in his fourth as head coach, the Blue Jackets have something to build on. All three men have recently had their contracts extended until at least 2021 (the hockey operations extensions were termed "multi-year" deals), and they'll be around to keep this thing going for the foreseeable future.

A few years ago, it seemed like a pipe dream for Blue Jackets ownership.

Continuity was a desirable word in previous regimes. It was somewhere off in the distance. Now, it's both a reality and a benefit to all parties involved.

"(Tortorella) talked about the process with the team and the players. We talk about the process with the coaching staff and management, as well," Kekalainen said at media day on Wednesday. We want to evolve, we want to get better every day, and we want to work together better and improve. Getting to know each other better and better, and being able to work with each other better and better, will make a better management staff, a better coaching staff and a better team.

"We're trying to learn something new every day. That's the mindset we have in management and the mindset we appreciate that the coaching staff has, as well. We'll keep working better together. That's what it's all about."

Since Davidson assembled this hockey operations staff in 2012-13, the Blue Jackets have a .566 points percentage compared to .455 in their first 11 seasons of existence. Three of their four appearances in the Stanley Cup playoffs have come under this regime, including back-to-back postseason berths and the first 100-point season in franchise history.

While great things and feathers in the cap for those involved, what feels different about this era of Blue Jackets hockey is that it's not enough. And those at the top have made that loud and clear as they begin a new season.

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