Hockey Headlines

Monday, 16 January 2012

At Least Choose A Winner

There are a few teams who have already replaced their head coach in an effort to produce results on the ice. One such team is the Columbus Blue Jackets as head coach Scott Arniel was given his pink slip about a week ago. With the Blue Jackets still struggling on the ice, the crosshairs move further up the ladder as GM Scott Howson finds himself on the hot seat now. And if we are to believe a report that surfaced today, the Blue Jackets are apparently considering former Leafs GM John Ferguson Jr. as his replacement. I have to wonder if the Blue Jackets are actually trying to improve their team if this report holds true.

John Ferguson Jr. is a very good hockey executive, but his track record as an NHL general manager is questionable. Then again, the man that reported this turn of events, Bruce Garrioch, also has a questionable track record. But let's take this report at face value and break down what we know.

When Brian Burke took over as GM in Toronto from the Ferguson era, the Leafs were a mess, having not made the playoffs since the lockout. His deals to acquire Andrew Raycroft from Boston and Vesa Toskala from San Jose gave up a ton of potential as Tuukka Rask and a handful of high draft picks left the organization. His record of no-trade clauses combined with albatross salaries made moving players like Bryan McCabe, Pavel Kubina, and Darcy Tucker almost impossible. Needless to say, the Leafs needed some vast rebuilding after Ferguson had cleaned out his desk.

While the Blue Jackets have some valuable pieces on their roster currently, there isn't a lot of wiggle room in terms of cap space to go out and restock the cupboards. There are some decent prospects playing for the AHL's Springfield Falcons as Cody Goloubef, Cam Atkinson, and Martin St. Pierre are having decent seasons, but, like the Blue Jackets, the Falcons are near the bottom of the AHL standings.

Personally, I think that even giving John Ferguson Jr. a chance to run a team that needs considerable rebuilding is a mistake. The Blue Jackets should look at someone who has had success in the position before in terms of shrewd drafting. Former Penguins GM Craig Patrick was just hired by Columbus as the Senior Advisor of Hockey Operations, and has a pretty solid track record when it comes to success at the NHL level. Pat Quinn could easily step into the GM role and bring some accountability and respect to a franchise that has made the playoffs only once in its existence. Other possibilities include Rick Dudley, Bob Gainey, and Pierre Lacroix - three men who have had success building and running Stanley Cup-winning teams.

Personally, I'm not against John Ferguson Jr. in any way. I simply don't like his management style, and I don't think he's the right man for the rebuild that is currently underway in Columbus. He's a solid NHL executive, but he didn't handle the scrutiny in Toronto well and the fans in Columbus have lost all patience with their club. Putting Ferguson back into the fire probably won't end well for anyone.

Rumours should remain rumours. Bruce Garrioch shouldn't even break this "report" unless he has absolute confirmation that the Blue Jackets have, indeed, spoken to the San Jose Sharks about the availability of John Ferguson Jr. If you ask me, however, I don't think Columbus is remotely interested.

Of course, I have been wrong before. And I'm sure it will happen again.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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