Thursday long time Columbus Blue Jacket assistant coach Brad Larsen was named head coach. Blue Jackets fans greeted the news with a mixture of mostly negativity with a bit of optimism. So what does this mean for the organization moving forward? That is a big question right now.
One factor that could have been in play for the Columbus Blue Jackets hiring, is that Brad Larsen knows the organization. He also knows the current roster. So that has some consistency and does not rock the boat to much as far as bringing in a coach from outside the organization.
Brad Larsen has been in Columbus for 11 years. During his time as an assistant coach the Blue Jackets record is 269-208 with 59 ties. So Larsen has been part of the winning in Columbus.
After the season concluded, and is was announced that former Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella would not be returning, Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen met with players and asked what they would like in the next head coach. The players were united and said they wanted a “players coach.”
Larsen fits that bill. The term “players coach” does not mean pushover, not at all. It means a coach who is willing to listen to players and give them a chance to prove what they ask for, while being able to scrap that and change to what the head coach wants to do as the situation dictates.
While it is true the Blue Jackets power play struggled mightily under what many fans believe to be Larsen’s watch a deeper look tells a slightly different story. John Tortorella coached teams have a history of weak power plays.
While Brad Larsen may not have been the sexy name as far as head coaching candidates. Jarmo Kekalainen is banking on it being the right one for his hockey team. Time will tell. But for now Blue Jackets fans should back away from the ledge and see how this plays out.
In a scene all too familiar another big name Columbus Blue Jackets player wants out of Columbus. We have heard Blue Jacket players say they love the city of Columbus. They very well might. But the bigger name players say it and then leave. Be it by trade or they leave as a free agent. It is difficult at times to be a fan of a team that begins to look good only to lose a star player. It is time for the organization to buck that trend.
In order for big name players to both stay in Columbus and want to play for the Blue Jackets a big name coach needs to be brought in. With all do respect to Brad Larson (long time Blue Jackets assistant coach) he is not a name that exactly entices players to stay or come.
John Tortorella was a fine coach. He was also a coach that chased a lot of big names out of Columbus due to his over-the-top brash coaching style. Yes, Tortorella won a lot of games, but the Blue Jackets could have won more if he had backed down a bit.
The Columbus Blue Jackets, President of Hockey Operations, John Davidson and general manager Jarmo Kekalainen have options as far as big name coach’s and assistants who are ready to be head coach’s.
Marco Strom, 3 year assistant coach with the Los Angeles Kings, Igor Larionov, Russian National Team and 2 time Stanley Cup champion with the Detroit Red Wings, While Rick Tocchet, Bruce Boudreau, Todd Nelson and Gerard Gallant have all been successful NHL head coach’s.
In order for the Blue Jackets to take the next step and be a serious playoff contending team, then a big name head coach is needed. Players like having someone who has been there and done that. A coach who can relate to them as well as allow them the comfort of knowing the organization is in good hands.
A big name head coach should be the top priority this summer in Columbus. This will help players who are restricted free agents decide if they want to sign a long-term deal with the team. Players like Patrik Laine, Alexander Texier, and others.
Having a proven head coach would ease a lot of the issues that have come about in recent years.
Exit John Tortorella. The winningest coach in Columbus Blue Jackets history. During Tortorella’a six year run as Blue Jackets head coach he guided the team to a 447-227-166- .568 record and took the Blue Jackets to the playoffs four times. Tortorella was also brutally honest and had a short leash for any and all players who messed up during games. Many big named players were benched for long periods of time when they drew Tortorella’s ire. After the 2020-21 Blue Jackets season, John Tortorella and the team mutually agreed to part ways.
What is next for the Columbus Blue Jackets and a new head coach? GM Jarmo Kekalainen gave a strong look into what he is looking for in the next bench boss. “I think it’s important the coach sets the standard, I think that’s why Torts was so good. He set the standard every day of how we work here and what we do and how we go about our business. I think that’s really important, how you go about it. There are different personalities, but I think strong values and the standard, that’s the key to the selection process that we have here.”
Kekalainen met for hours with Blue Jacket players. He said it was an honest meeting in which he asked what the players want in the next head coach. From the difficult to work with Tortorella, players would like a more player friendly coach.
That does not mean push-over! It means a coach who will coach in games and not bench for a simple mistake made. That seems reasonable. John Tortorella showed the Blue Jackets what it takes to win. That should never be lost. In spite of a bad season the Blue Jackets still have a very good hockey team and should rebound with the right coach.
Defensive coach Brad Shaw is also leaving the Blue Jackets so he is not a candidate to take over as head coach and will not receive an interview. I have a hard time believing assistant coach Brad Larsen will be named coach. Larsen oversaw the Blue Jackets power play for years. A unit that was near the bottom of the NHL on a regular basis.
Who will succeed John Tortorella? That remains a mystery only Kekalainen can answer. An answer that may not be made public until after the playoffs.
With the recent departure of former Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia, much was brought to light about what Patricia did not do during his time on the Lions sidelines. The list is long and I do not feel like rehashing. That said, with the organization now searching for a new general manager and a new head football coach here is what I feel the Lions need to look for.
Whoever is chosen to be the Detroit Lions next head coach, that person must be flexible. Flexible in terms of schemes as well as in-game changes when things are not going well. That is one of my biggest issues I had with Matt Patricia. He simply refused to change anything during a game. He was going to stick to the game plan come hell or high water. Most of the time the water was over Patricia’s head.
Understanding. The next head coach in the Motor City needs to have a clear understanding of every situation, not only gameday, but in the practices and film studies leading up to a game. Understanding other teams weaknesses as well as creating mismatches and exploiting them. That is another area Patricia struggled in mightily.
The one characteristic the new Detroit Lions must have in my opinion is strong leadership. A team can never and will never have or develop a winning culture unless the main leader is strong. Strong leaders also command the respect of players, assistant coaches, front office personnel and owners. Good leaders are willing to listen to others for the greater good.
First and foremost the Detroit Lions need to hire a new general manger. That said the front office needs to be doing homework on possible head coaches. There needs to be open discussions and finally an agreement on all sides.
For an organization that is about to rebuild yet again, the next step is critical.