Like just about everyone else online, I was planning to write about the team's pursuit of St. Louis CEO John Davidson. However, I realized after a day's worth of writer's block that more has been written by better men, and all of my points have been made.
Instead, I think it's worth stepping back to look at Davidson the symbol, instead of Davidson the man.
At this time last season, the Jackets were in a position where everyone expected the team to turn a corner. Under Scott Arniel the team still had a lottery pick, but had contended until the final weeks of the season, when a four game losing streak took the slim hope of squeaking in out of their hands. The additions of Jeff Carter and James Wisniewski triggered a great deal of offseason excitement both locally and in the larger hockey media, and the general perception was "These guys should be good."
12 months later, we know how that story turned out. Back at the bottom of the heap, potentially losing a franchise star in Rick Nash, and in a "can't win for losing" scenario with the loss of the #1 pick to Edmonton, the team has become the butt of more than a few jokes, and even the relentlessly positive attitude of additions like Jack Johnson, Cam Atkinson, and Todd Richards have not done a great deal to move the needle on public perception.
The addition of Craig Patrick to the front office and subsequent pursuit of Davidson, however, has generally been viewed with a decent amount of approval. Filling the perceived "lack of hockey sense" in the top rungs of the organization satisfies not only local fans, but many on the larger stage who think the issues in Columbus are as much about the front office as the personnel.
Perhaps, then, the biggest challenge in front of the team isn't goaltending, Rick Nash, or even what to do with the #2 pick - it's finding a way, either through adding Davidson or other means, of regaining the respect of both their fans and the overall hockey world.
This is likely going to be a slow process, and each potential setback may slow things down, but there is hope - and perhaps a strong enough performance this season, when all is said and done, will go a long way towards putting them where they desire to be.