I wasn't sure what to expect this morning, but Scott Howson coming out and saying that "Coaching is not an issue" was nowhere on my list.
I certainly agree players underachieving is part of the problem, but isn't part of the coach's job to work on the team's mental and physical readiness? Isn't the "fragility" partially his responsibility?
Jeff Little talks about the sum of the parts over at TMM. The coach is the guy who is supposed to be taking the distinct elements assembled by the GM and creating that greater whole. Right now, I don't see a unified whole. I certainly don't see anything equal to the sum of the parts, let alone greater. Please understand that I think Scott Arniel is a good man and he's always been fun to speak with when I've had the opportunity. I think he certainly knows a lot about hockey. But I don't think it's working here. Third period collapses, lethargic performances, wildly inconsistent play, a lack of cohesive effort, the continuing search for "identity"...the buck has to stop somewhere.
Perhaps Howson is throwing the world's largest smokescreen while preparing to make a move after the holidays. I certainly hope that's the case. Because simply accepting the status quo strikes me as a really good way to alienate the fanbase.
Speaking of alienation: Over at Backhand Shelf they make a point that Ilya Bryzgalov is a lot of fun on TV, but think about having to work with him every day.
Over at Puck Daddy, they take a look at an ugly hit on Brent Seabrook by Rene Bourque, Raffi (the children's entertainer, not Torres) wants you to tune out Don Cherry, and the fish-slapping dance is alive and well in Ft. Wayne.
Let's go out with something fun, at least: Check out the 12 days of Blue Jackets!