August 26, 2014

CBJ Off-season: Q&A With GM Scott Howson

Columbus Dispatch Photo

Editor’s Note: The following interview took place on March 29th, before the end of the season.

With another non-playoff season now in the books for the Blue Jackets, the writing is on the wall for General Manager Scott Howson: changes need to be made to the roster. As timing would have it, he has 12 free agents on his roster, including several defensemen which is an area of serious need. I had the chance to speak with Howson between periods at the 3/29 game vs. Florida, and I asked him a few questions about the upcoming off-season. I’ll have more next week about needs and prescriptions, but this should be a good kickoff for where the franchise sits now after two straight non-playoff seasons.

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The 5-Hole: Blue Jackets News and Notes – 3/1/11 – Trading Deadline Edition

Every Tuesday, WFNY’s The 5-Hole brings you up to date with the goings-on of the CBJ…

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The Week That Was

This Week: 2-1-0, 4 points
Overall: 31-24-6, 68 points (4th division; 12th conference)

Just like last week… Columbus continues to play well, BUT they can’t move up in the standings. However, the Jackets have played the fewest games in the conference, meaning they have a chance to make up points on the teams in front of them. BUT, they also play 16 times in 31 days in the month of March, or the same number of games they played in 31 days in December. And, we all remember how that turned out. The Jackets are in the midst of a huge road trip, and GM Scott Howson made a move yesterday to try to give the teama little extra push for the final 21 games.

The 5-Hole: Blue Jackets News and Notes – 1/18/11

Every Tuesday, WFNY’s The 5-Hole brings you up to date with the goings-on of the CBJ…

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The Week That Was

This Week: 1-1-1, 3 points
Overall: 21-20-4, 46 points (5th division; 13th conference)

While the point total isn’t overwhelming, it’s possible that this past week—or, more specifically, the weekend—could be viewed as a turning point. It will depend on what the team does the rest of the way, but their big slide started with back to back losses to Detroit in a home-and-home right after Thanksgiving. So, perhaps being a questionable save/goal review away from taking four points in two nights from those same Red Wings might be the spark that gets them back on the right track. As bad as things have largely been over the last six weeks, the Jackets are still just six points (i.e., three games) out of a playoff spot.

The 5-Hole: Blue Jackets News and Notes – 9/28/10

Once again, every Tuesday, WFNY’s The 5-Hole brings you up to date with the goings-on of the CBJ…

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The Summer That Was

Regular Season: 32-35-15, 79 points (5th division; 14th conference)
Playoff Result: did not qualify

This is a pivotal season for the Jackets. Expectations were high (in this space as well) heading into last season. Coming off of their first playoffs appearance in 2009 and having seemingly addressed their biggest needs in the off-season, the Jackets looked primed to improve in ‘09-‘10. As we know now, the wheels fell off the wagon entirely, and we enter the ‘10-‘11 season with a new coach and system, and a whole new set of expectations. Training camp started on Friday, September 17th, and the Jackets are now four games into their exhibition season under the guidance of new coach Scott Arniel, whose new up-tempo system has looked good at times, and also has shown some areas for improvement.

First Round Draft Preview – NHL-Style; Blue Jackets Have Options at #4

Much like their winter-arena-sports counterparts in the NBA, the NHLers are in draft-mode tonight. The first round of the NHL Entry Draft is tonight in Los Angeles at the Staples Center, and our own Columbus Blue Jackets find themselves in an interesting position with the #4 pick.

Now that their coaching search is complete, all eyes have turned to the draft for Columbus. The chance is there to get a real first-year impact player, and if they stay put that player will most likely be on defense. And, if you watched this team at all last season, you know that defense is by far the biggest area of overall need (with apologies to that elusive, play-making centerman they covet).

So, what does this draft look like at the top, and where does Columbus fit in? [Read more...]

Fermez La Boucher; Blue Jackets Move On, Hire Scott Arniel As Coach

As it turns out, the past 24 hours for the Columbus Blue Jackets have been a lot crazier than many expected. They had offered their head coaching job to Guy Boucher late last week; Boucher asked for the weekend to “think about it”. It turns out that “thinking about it” really meant trolling for other offers. Boucher will be named the new head coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning sometime Tuesday.

And so, as we updated yesterday, GM Scott Howson wasted no time in moving on to his second choice, Manitoba Moose head coach Scott Arniel. And, very quickly, Arniel accepted and became the seventh coach in Blue Jackets franchise history. According to Porty, there were sources that said the offer was made within the hour of Boucher’s rejection, and that Arniel accepted “without hesitation”. So, a little face was saved, it would seem.

So… who exactly is Scott Arniel? [Read more...]

CBJ Coaching Update: Blue Jackets Have Targeted Their Man – UPDATED – And Their Man Says NO – UPDATED AGAIN – And They’ve Targeted Their Second Man…

The Blue Jackets’ season ended in mid April, and while things here in the WFNY corner of the CBJ world have been quiet (that’s called “knowing your audience,” son!), GM Scott Howson and the front office have had anything but a quiet six weeks. After nailing down the fourth pick in the draft lottery, there has been scouting to do. Oh, and there has been the matter of hiring a new coach. But other than that…

The Blue Jackets early on targeted five candidates for interview (head over to Dark Blue Jacket for some very good background on all five; check the left frame), including interim coach Claude Noel. The presumed front-runner was former Jackets player and current Portland Pirates (Buffalo’s AHL team) coach Kevin Dineen. That’s why it shocked many who followed the team that Howson was willing to wait almost three additional weeks to interview Hamilton Bulldogs (Montreal’s AHL team) coach, Guy Boucher.

Well, there appears to have been good reason, as The Dispatch is reporting that Boucher has been offered the job to coach the Blue Jackets. He has until Tuesday to accept or reject the offer, at which time a contract will be discussed or the Jackets will move on to their second choice. [Read more...]

The 5-Hole: Blue Jackets News and Notes – 4/13/10 – Season In Review

Every Tuesday Sometimes on Wednesday, WFNY’s The 5-Hole brings you up to date with the goings-on of the CBJ…

The Year That Was

Regular Season: 32-35-15, 79 points (5th division; 14th conference)

Playoff Result: did not qualify

For what will be the final 5-Hole column of the spring, I thought, much like last year though under different circumstances, it would be good to take a season-in-review look back on the 2009-2010 season for the Jackets. The Jackets followed up their first playoff appearance by taking a step backward in ‘09-‘10. But, there were some silver linings to be found, and some decent performances in spite of that. Let’s take a look back at The Year That Was…

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NHL Trading Deadline: Blue Jackets are Sellers; Make Five Minor Moves

raffi_torresUnlike last year, this year’s Blue Jackets are on the outside looking in when it comes to playoff prospects. After Tuesday night’s overtime loss made it all but official that there will be no playoffs for the CBJ, Wednesday’s trading deadline came with a sobering reality for GM Scott Howson: it was back to being sellers again.

We had speculated in Tuesday’s 5-Hole column that the three most likely guys to move would be upcoming free agents Raffi Torres, Fredrik Modin, and Milan Jurcina. Howson didn’t disappoint, moving all three to Buffalo, Los Angeles, and Washington respectively. But, Howson didn’t stop there. In moves that I collectively referred to as “taking out the trash” yesterday afternoon, he shipped fringe defenseman Mathieu Roy to Florida and fringe forward Alexandre Picard to Phoenix. Both were players that had cups of coffee with the Jackets this year, but spent more time in Syracuse.

So, no blockbusters. But what exactly did Howson accomplish? Let’s look at the deals one-by-one: [Read more...]

End Of An Era: Jackets and Hitchcock Part Ways

sad_hitchAs we passed along last night, the Blue Jackets and coach Ken Hitchcock have parted ways; Hitchcock was fired yesterday, and assistant Claude Noel was named the interim coach for the remaining 24 games of the season.

Aside from that informative note, I wanted to take some time to react to the move from as many different angles as possible, as there’s no black-and-white look to this issue. There are many aspects of Hitchcock’s tenure that probably merited his firing, but you can’t lay the failures of this team all at his feet.

The Good

Hitchcock was hired in November of 2006, and in 3+ seasons compiled a 125-123-36 record. It’s easy to say he was the best coach in franchise history by quite a wide margin. He led the team to its only Stanley Cup Playoffs berth in franchise history last season. “Hitch came to an organization in disarray, and he’s leaving it in much better shape,” GM Scott Howson said. “He brought structure, credibility and legitimacy to our franchise. We’ve all learned a great deal from him.” [Read more...]

The 5-Hole – Blue Jackets News and Notes: 9/15/09

Guess who’s back / back again / 5-Hole’s back / tell a friend…

Every Tuesday, WFNY’s The 5-Hole brings you up to date with the goings-on of the CBJ…

The Summer That Was

Last Season: 41-31-10, 92 points (4th division; 7th conference)

It was officially “The Best Season in Franchise History”. Granted, 4th place in the division isn’t something to shout about, but the division was so stacked last season (and looks to be this season as well) that 4th in the division was good enough for 7th in the conference. They tied in points with 3rd/6th place St. Louis, but finished below them by virtue of head-to-head record. But, the Jackets finally made the playoffs, and have laid the foundation for what should be a return trip this year, hopefully with better results due to the experience gained last year. And, despite the loss, Game 4 against Detroit still is and will always be one of my favorite sports memories.

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The 5-Hole: Blue Jackets News and Notes – 4/28/09 – Season-in-Review Edition

Every Tuesday, WFNY’s The 5-Hole brings you up to date with the goings-on of the CBJ…

The Year That Was

Regular Season: 41-31-10, 92 points (4th division; 7th conference)
Playoff Result: lost in Conference Quarterfinals to Detroit, 0-4

For what will be the final 5-Hole column of the spring, I thought it would be good to take a season-in-review look back on the 2008-2009 season for the Jackets. By almost all accounts, it was a season for the history books: franchise records in wins, road wins, points, and the team’s inaugural trip to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, in addition to many individual player records set as well. Not only did Columbus finally take the step to get to the post-season, but they definitely also got a bit of an education on what it will take to then take that *next* step in 2009-2010. But, that’s still six months away. Let’s take a look back at The Year That Was… [Read more...]

The 5-Hole – Blue Jackets News and Notes: 3/24/09

Every Tuesday, WFNY’s The 5-Hole brings you up to date with the goings-on of the CBJ…

The Week That Was

Week: 2-0-0, 4 points
Overall: 38-28-6, 82 points (3rd division; 6th conference)

The Jackets had another great week, for two main reasons: first and foremost, they won both of their games, and now have seemingly made it very likely that they will make the playoffs in some capacity, and secondly because they only had two games for a change, giving them a chance to rest up a bit for the final push to the end of the season. To dive a little deeper, however, these two wins were not only important for the four points; they were also important because Columbus could have very easily lost both games, but managed to rally back with some timely scoring and goaltending to win both. That’s what [gulp] playoff teams do! Not that I’m saying anything that could be construed as any kind of jinx

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The 5-Hole – Blue Jackets News and Notes: 3/3/09 – NHL Trade Rumors Edition

Every Tuesday, WFNY’s The 5-Hole brings you up to date with the goings-on of the CBJ…

The Week That Was

Week: 1-2-0, 2 points
Overall: 31-26-6, 68 points (3rd division; 6th conference)

The Jackets are at a crossroads: they are still in the playoff hunt, but they are struggling to find their game right now. A three game road trip ending 1-2-0, with only three goals scored on offense. Were it not for Steve Mason’s shut-out on Thursday night in Edmonton, they would be on a four game losing skid. The crossroads also has a fork labeled “Trading Deadline” as the NHL Trading Deadline is Wednesday at 3 PM. There are many possibilities for the Jackets to go out and get a player, but the question will be: is it worth it to part with a #1 pick to try to make the playoffs this year, when the future is arguably as bright as it’s ever been? [Read more...]

Jackets Make a Deal for Power Play Help

In an effort to bolster their NHL-worst Power Play as well as to add some depth with playoff experience, the Jackets pulled the trigger on a small deal Wednesday night. They acquired forward Jason Williams from the Atlanta Thrashers in exchange for AHL-defenseman Clay Wilson and a sixth round pick. The sixth round pick was the pick the Jackets acquired from dealing Jody Shelley to San Jose last year. Williams has 18 points (7G, 11A) in 41 games this season.

This is not a trade that will bring a lot of chatter across the league, but it’s a deal that doesn’t cost the Jackets much and that could absolutely help them this season as they try to push for the playoffs. The Jackets had two major needs: a skilled centerman, and someone to play the point (defense/blue line) on the Power Play that has a right handed shot. Their current PP lineups just don’t have a scoring threat from the back-line, which makes it much more difficult to get shots and traffic, as the defense can collapse down if they don’t have to respect a shot from the point. [Read more...]

Halfway Home: Treading Water, A Star Is Born


(First 10 | Second 10)

19-18-4 – 42 points (3rd division, 10th conference)

In the past, I’ve done these mile-marker updates after 10 games. For the Third 10, I completely skipped it and instead focused on the seminal win of the season thus far for the Jackets. I chose 41 games to do the Fourth 10, as it is the halfway point of the 82-game season.

As the NHL closes in on the All Star break, the playoff picture is still murky in the Western Conference, where just 10 points separate the fifth seed from the 14th-ranked team in the conference. The Jackets are smack in the middle of that picture, treading water around the .500 mark, and just one point out of the eighth spot. As of this writing, they face off against Minnesota tonight at home in Columbus, the same team who happens to occupy that eighth spot. In short, game 42 is just as huge as any of the previous 41 have been. That said, let’s recap the last 10, and some of first half of the season’s high and low points. [Read more...]

The 5-Hole, CBJ News and Notes – 12/23/08

Every Tuesday, WFNY’s The 5-Hole brings you up to date with the goings-on of the CBJ…

The Week That Was

Week: 1-1-1, 3 points
Overall: 14-15-4, 32 points (4th division; 12th conference)

The Jackets’ one win this week was well-documented here, but unfortunately the rest of the week went downhill. After outlasting the Sharks at home in what could have been the season-changing win, the air came out of the baloon pretty quickly and in gut-wrenching fashion. [Read more...]

The 5-Hole, CBJ News and Notes – 12/16/08

Every Tuesday, WFNY’s The 5-Hole brings you up to date with the goings-on of the CBJ…

The Week That Was

Week: 2-1-0, 4 points
Overall: 13-14-3, 29 points (4th division; 13th conference)

The team rebounded a little bit after last week’s disastrous road trip out west by winning two in a row at home, though they let one slip away on Sunday in Chicago. [Read more...]

The 5-Hole, CBJ News and Notes – 11/11/08

Every Tuesday, WFNY’s The 5-Hole brings you up to date with the goings-on of the CBJ…

The Week That Was

Week: 3-0-0, 6 points
Overall: 7-6-2, 16 points (3rd division; 9th conference)

What a difference a week makes. The Blue Jackets are getting healthy, scoring goals, and managed to win all three of their games last week. They have also officially become The Steve Mason Show. Mason was called up from Syracuse last week and was immediately thrown into the fire, starting all three games. [Read more...]

The 5-Hole, CBJ News and Notes – 11/04/08

Every Tuesday, WFNY’s The 5-Hole brings you up to date with the goings-on of the CBJ…

The Week That Was

Week: 1-0-2, 4 points
Overall: 4-6-2, 10 points (T4th division; T10th conference)

I’m worn out. Let’s make it short and sweet this week. It is clear on Election Day that the Jackets have ELECTED to attempt to play better hockey (see what I did there? I’m funny!), yet they are still finding ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. We highlighted their very nice win in Colorado last Thursday. They played well enough to win the other two games they had this past week, but in true fashion managed to have unfortunate lapses at the wrong time, losing each in overtime/shootout fashion. [Read more...]