I must admit, I've been incredibly busy with everything outside of hockey the past couple of weeks. My wife and I are getting down to the wire with our first pregnancy, and my day job has seen increased responsibilities. I've managed to find some time to catch a few playoff games, and I have of course kept close tabs on the Jackets. With that, here is a collection of random thoughts I've been tossing around of late:
1) The biggest piece of news from this past season in my opinion was the announcement that Columbus will host the 2013 NHL All Star Game. This is absolutely huge for the Jackets, a team that is rarely at the forefront of water cooler talk among NHL fans. Earlier today, the Jackets unveiled the logo for the event, and here it is, courtesy of the team:
Pretty sharp, I say. The Ohio flag is featured prominently, along with the Star representing Columbus as the capital of the state, and doubling as a representation of the talent that will be showcased at the event.
As previously reported Sportlar, NHL forward, "Columbus Blue Dzhekets' Maxim Mayorov signed a contract with Kazan" Ak Bars ".
Haha, Blue Dzhekets.
I'm not surprised at this move. He's had chances to stick with the club, but was never able to lock down a full-time gig. He'll do well in the KHL and I wish him luck.
3) Nick Drazenovic was re-signed to a one-year deal. After the recent re-signing of Cody Bass, this is another move to bring back the character players who filled large roles with the Springfield Falcons last season. The Falcons just missed making the Calder Cup playoffs, and this move will go a long way in getting the Birds back to postseason hockey.
4) The Jackets have two head coaching spots to fill this offseason, one with the Jackets and another with the Falcons in the AHL. At this time, Scott Howson is still the General Manager of the Jackets, and I did some searching to see if he may look to his past to find a coach for one (or both) of those positions.I obviously have no idea how close, if it all, he was with the four candidates I've come up with, but at any rate here they are:
Bernie Nicholls- Nicholls and Howson were the go-to offensive threats for the Kingston Canadians of the OHL for a couple of seasons. Nicholls is currently a coaching consultant with the Los Angeles Kings, and though I'm unsure if that move is in preparation for a full-time gig as an assistant under Darryl Sutter, he may be interested in a full-time job as Springfield's coach.
Lorne Molleken- Howson and Molleken were teammates with three different squads- the Toledo Goaldiggers of the IHL, the Indianapolis Checkers of the CHL and the Springfield Indians of the AHL. While Howson was an offensive forward, Molleken was busy tending goal. Molleken is currently the head coach of the Saskatoon Blades of the WHL, but has experience as an AHL head coach with the Cape Breton Oilers and Hamilton Bulldogs. He has NHL experience as both head coach and assistant with the Blackhawks, along with stints as an assistant with the Sharks and Penguins. He's been with the Blades since the lockout season, but might relish a chance of moving back to the pro ranks with the Falcons or Jackets.
Marc Habscheid- Howson and Habscheid played a single season together, with the Springfield Indians of the AHL. While they may not have had a chance at forging a lasting relationship, Habscheid has a lot of junior coaching experience. He's currently the head coach of the Victoria Royals of the WHL, his ninth season at the helm of a junior franchise. He also spent one season as an assistant with the Boston Bruins. He has been rumored as an option for NHL head-coaching duty for a few seasons, and Springfield would be a good stepping stone back to the NHL.
Greg Gilbert- This is a guy who I would love to add to the organization. Gilbert and Howson played together briefly with the Indianapolis Checkers,, Springfield Indians and the New York Islanders. Moreso than that, Gilbert has NHL, AHL and junior head coaching experience. He was the bench boss of an AHL squad for nine seasons, most recently in 2010-2011 as the head coach of the Adirondack Phantoms. He has four seasons as the head coach of a junior squad, three with the Mississauga Icedogs and this past season, as top guy in Saginaw. Most importantly he has three years as head coach of the Calgary Flames. He could be a fit for either Columbus or Springfield.
This is all just speculative talk on my part, based simply off of experience playing with Howson in the past. Aside from that however, these four are legitimate candidates for a pro head coaching job, especially Gilbert. It remains to be seen if interim head coach Todd Richards, or another known NHL quantity is brought in as coach, but these four all deserve discussion.