While the biggest hole on the roster is still open, the Blue Jackets continue to make small moves around the edges to improve their club this off-season. Today's news is that the team has hired NHL coaching stalwart Craig Hartsburg to join Todd Richards' coaching staff.
Hartsburg has been an NHL head coach three times, coaching the Blackhawks from 1995-1998, the Ducks from 1998-2001, and the Senators from 2008-2009. Hartsburg was an assistant with the Flames last season, and has also been an assistant with the North Stars and Flyers in his career. As a head coach, he led his NHL teams to the playoffs in three of his five full seasons.
In between his stints as Ottawa's head coach and his job with Calgary last season, he was the head coach of the Everett Silvertips of the WHL for two seasons. Of note, possible second pick Ryan Murray has played for the Silvertips four the past four years.
Hartsburg has also had head coaching stints with Sault Ste. Marie and Guelph of the OHL, and has coached the Canadian World Junior teams in 2007 and 2008.
In other words, he's got some chops behind the bench, which is a shift in trend for the Jackets of late. When Scott Arniel was hired, he filled out his staff with first-timers. Hartsburg will bring a strong voice that has seen success at almost all levels of hockey from a coaching perspective.
"Craig Hartsburg has been a successful head coach at every level of hockey including the NHL, has been an assistant or associate coach in the League and was an All-Star as a player, so I feel very fortunate to add a coach and person of his caliber to our staff," said Richards. "He will be a valuable resource for me, our staff and players, and I am very happy to welcome him to the Columbus Blue Jackets."
In addition to his coaching chops, Hartsburg brings some additional credentials. He was an NHL defenseman for 10 seasons after being a top-10 pick of the North Stars in 1979. He was a three-time All Star in the early 80s, and played in the Stanley Cup Finals. For an organizational staff lacking in legit defensive coaching, Hartsburg brings a strong voice and resume to the table in that area as well.
Whether you like or dislike Hartsburg as a coach, it's hard to argue that the Jackets aren't trying to bring more experience to their organization; they have done so with this hire.