The official statement, from Blue Jacket's Assistant General Manager, Chris MacFarland:
We have made a decision not to renew Rob Riley’s contract as head coach of the Springfield Falcons as our organization feels a new voice is needed moving forward with our AHL affiliate. On behalf of the Blue Jackets, I want to thank Rob for his hard work and commitment over the past two seasons.Prior to his bench duties in Springfield, Riley had been a Jackets scout in the northeast. MacFarland's wording doesn't specifically address Riley's future employment, but I feel it's open ended enough that Riley will continue in some capacity with the organization.
Like all other aspects of the game, coaching has evolved. As hockey becomes more like the National Football League, with endless assistant coaches, video analysis and more, a head coach's role is no longer limited to just X's and O's and sorting out line combinations.
Riley was fortunate in his first season to have Brad Larsen come aboard as his assistant. This season, along with Larsen, the Jackets added Nolan Pratt to the mix. As with many cases like this, the extra coach, while badly needed, ultimately didn't pay a dividend.
I felt that Riley was good as a coach; in that he was able to delegate many of the functions to his assistants and keep the team as a whole, playing the system as directed by Scott Howson. Let's not forget, the Falcons had 52 players play at least one game this season. I'd go so far as to say, that given the never ending carousel of PTOs, ECHL guys, and ATOs, Riley actually did a pretty good job of keeping the club close to the playoffs until the last few days of the season.
There had been a small, but vocal, uprising against Riley, among a small number of Falcons fans over the last month or so. Given everything that went down, practically from training camp forward, very little of it had anything to do with Riley or his methodologies. And truth be told, I would not have been disappointed to have Riley back for a third season. But as MacFarland states, "...a new voice is needed moving forward...". That is really where this all shakes out. If the voice that's been heard for two years is perceived to have lost its effectiveness, then indeed let a new voice be heard.