The winds of change are starting to blow around Columbus, and I find the chill concerning. The Dispatch is reporting that Ken Hitchock and Craig Button could replace both Scott Howson and Scott Arniel by Monday, a report that has been picked up by Puck Daddy.
I think Ken Hitchcock is a wonderful hockey mind, but I have strong concerns that he is not the right direction.
It is not Scott Arniel's fault that Jeff Carter popped his foot blocking shots. It is not Scott Arniel's fault that James Wisniewski missed the first 8 games of the season. It is not Scott Arniel's fault that Radek Martinek and Marc Methot are both on IR. It is not Scott Arniel's fault that Mark Dekanich got run in his crease in his first pre-season game. It is not Scott Arniel's fault that R.J. Umberger and Antoine Vermette can't hit open nets right now.
It is Scott Arniel's fault that he has not been using the wealth of promising young players that Scott Howson assembled very effectively, but I strongly doubt that, based on historical perfomances, Hitch will be a marked improvement on that score.
The NHL has praised teams like Buffalo and Nashville repeatedly for sticking by their GMs and coaches through thick and thin. Columbus fans have repeatedly talked about Barry Trotz's successes and the fact that he's been the only coach in Nashville history, building their identity from Day 1.
You don't get that kind of success by dumping the coach every time things suffer. You don't get an identity if you clean house behind the bench or in the locker room when AHL players don't instantly play like all stars.
You want to build a team with an identity? Gutting out this kind of start is the mortar between the bricks.
Likewise, for all the talk about the $64 million payroll, Scott Howson did a very effective job in the offseason - one that had plenty of people around the NHL praising his bold decisions. You can't support the man in September and dump him in October - particularly since, like Arniel, he's dealing with a wealth of problems that were impossible to predict.
We've got another case of Shanabanning as Daniel Carcillo received two games for his hit on Joni Pitkanen, and Andy Sutton looking to be the next up. Given his repeat offender status and the fact that it will be an in person hearing, we may finally see a suspension that matches or exceeds the length of James Wisniewski's punishment.
Another nasty hit - Mike Fisher, in his third game back since starting the season on IR, got clipped in the head by former Jacket Francois Beauchemin. Beauchemin was clearly trying for a shoulder on shoulder hit before Fisher tried to evade - the OTF guys have a great breakdown, but I suspect this one will end up being a video either to explain the suspension, or to explain a non-call...
Dannie named another boyfriend of the week, and this one won't surprise you either.
Not much other Jackets news (so far) this morning, so let me give you a look around the NHL as we wait to see what, if anything, happens before tonight's game against the Ducks.
Chris Pronger cracked a little wise about his recent injury, Mats Sundin will see #13 go to the rafters of the ACC, a rare tie hockey game in the wild, a visual guide to the Shanabannings, Don Cherry questions the Canucks, more Bottoms Up at Backhand Shelf, an interesting yet somewhat heartbreaking debate over who owns items in the hockey hall of fame, and Gary Bettman offers a massive understatement about getting booed.
We'll be back with scoring chances, game previews, and any breaking news.