Change is underway in Columbus.
The Blue Jackets fired head coach Brad Larsen on Saturday morning after two seasons at the helm. Larsen posted a 62-86-16 in his first stint as an NHL bench boss, including a 25-49-8 record in 2022-23, which was the second-worst in the league.
Additionally, the team announced that goaltending coach Manny Legace was not retained.
Columbus finished its season Friday night at Nationwide Arena with a 5-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres, securing second-best odds (13.5 percent) of the No. 1 overall pick. The NHL Draft Lottery is set for May 8.
“This season has been extremely disappointing and the responsibility for that lies with all of us,” Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said. “These decisions were difficult and not made lightly given our respect for both Brad and Manny as coaches and people. Brad has been part of our organization for more than a decade, and we are extremely thankful for his hard work and many contributions – both on and off the ice – during that time. We wish nothing but the best for Brad and his family in the future.”
Prior to taking over as the franchise’s eighth head coach for the 2021-22 season, Larsen was an assistant coach for the Blue Jackets for seven seasons from 2014-15 to 2020-21.
The Jackets had a strong start to 2021-22, going 12-8-0 through November. Following a three-game winning streak in mid-March, the team was 31-27-3 on March 16th. However, they faded and finished the season 6-11-5.
A promising season coupled with the off-season signing of all-star forward Johnny Gaudreau raised the expectations for the Blue Jackets heading into 2022-23. Unfortunately, the team caught the injury bug early in the season which was highlighted by losing star defenseman Zach Werenski for the year after just 13 games due to a torn labrum. By the end of the year that saw 47 different players put on a Blue Jackets sweater, the club totaled over 550 man-games lost.
Before his time in Columbus, Larsen was an assistant coach for the AHL’s Springfield Falcons for two seasons from 2010-11 to 2011-12 before becoming their head coach for another two years from 2012-13 to 2013-14.
This year was Legace's 10th with the Blue Jackets organization as he served as the club's goaltending coach for the last five seasons after spending the previous five seasons in a similar role with the club's AHL affiliates, the Cleveland Monsters and Springfield Falcons.