Another Fresh Start

As predicted by just about everyone who keeps an eye on the Blue Jackets, the club has officially dismissed assistant coaches Gord Murphy and Gary Agnew today, according to the Dispatch. The team also parted ways with Strength & Conditioning coach Barry Brennan, and have already hired former Portland Pirates assistant Kevin Collins as his replacement, according to the Maine Hockey Journal. Collins has also worked as an assistant strength coach with Rochester while the Americans were Buffalo's AHL affiliate, and is reported to be familiar with new head coach Scott Arniel. Collins also came with glowing recommendation from Buffalo GM Darcy Regier and Pirates' head coach Kevin Dineen.

This was one of the last major ties from the older MacLean era of the organization to be severed by GM Scott Howson, and it will be a chance for fresh voices to come into the room as Arniel hires the rest of his staff. (Brad Berry appears to be the first leader into the clubhouse, and it will be interesting to see if Arniel taps another of his former Moose assistants for the other position, or goes outside both organizations.)

I'm curious to see how this affects the 'summer camp' program - in the Dispatch article, Howson admitted this will be 'disruptive' to those working out over the summer, and it seems likely that Collins will be putting new programs into place once he arrives in Columbus next week.

On the other hand, the Jackets' conditioning has always been a sore spot. Perhaps a new program and a fresh set of eyes looking at the team and their preparations will help them to set a better tone going into the 10th anniversary season. Look for the real evidence come January and February, when the team's conditioning and energy levels might well make the difference between playoff contenders and also-rans.

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