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The Puck Stops Here

Howson Must Go

Scott Howson has been general manager of the Columbus Blue Jackets for almost five complete seasons.  At the end of the year he will have five full years.  During that time Columbus had their only playoff appearance.  This happened in Howson’s second year when Steve Mason won the Calder Trophy and provided strong goaltending.  As most of the team was acquired before Howson’s tenure (including Mason and top scorer Rick Nash) it is hard to give him much credit.

Since that time the Blue Jackets have fallen into last place in the NHL.  They are thirteen points behind any other team.  It is hard to find any move that Howson made that turned out well for the Blue Jackets.  He is fresh off of a trade deadline where Columbus was the biggest loser.

The Blue Jackets gave up talent in Jeff Carter, Antoine Vermette, Sami Pahlsson and Grant Clitsome.  The most significant player coming their way is Jack Johnson.  Johnson was a first round pick (third overall) and has represented his country in the Olympics, but he is not a very good defenceman.  He has a perennially bad +/- rating and is consistently the worst player on his team by Corsi rating.  When Johnson is on the ice, the opponents tend to have the puck and score regardless of who Johnson plays with. 

In the future, Columbus picked up some draft picks.  The Kings first rounder is the most significant one.  It should be in the latter half of the first round when there is no guarantee that they will get a significant player in return.

Columbus likely paid more for Carter in Jakub Voracek and the draft pick that became Sean Couturier than they got in his recent return in Jack Johnson and a conditional first round draft pick (that will be far later in the draft than the pick that became Couturier).  Columbus lost value in the partial season Carter spent there.

They are not good at asset management.  Grant Clitsome was lost on waivers to the Winnipeg Jets.  He is good enough to play a regular shift on a team still in the playoff race and a Columbus team mired in last place gave him up for nothing.  That isn’t right.

To make matters worse, Rick Nash, the top player in Blue Jacket history, wants to be traded.  Howson announced this on trade deadline day but did not actually trade him.  This has only made it harder for the Jackets to trade him in the future and gives the team a distraction for the rest of the season.  Scott Howson did not do that properly.

Perhaps, given his record, it is a good thing that Howson doesn’t make the franchise altering move of trading Nash.  Odds are he will not make a move to help secure the future of the team.  The problem is no other GM candidate is in place to make a move.  That will be job one for Howson’s replacement (should Columbus find one).

Scott Howson has failed as Columbus Blue Jacket GM.  He is making things worse for the team with the way he got a poor return for Jeff Carter and announced Rick Nash’s trade demands but did not trade him.  Columbus needs to get rid of him and find a new GM to turn things around.  It is a hard place for a new GM to be forced to trade the best player in franchise history as his first job, but it will be necessary.  It is better that somebody without the failed record of Scott Howson make such a franchise altering move.

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i do agree that Howson has to be out.  The (CBJ) could still salvage the relationship with Nash with a new GM… but they would still need to make other changes this summer.  Maybe by bringing in players who want to play in columbus instead of pouting spoiled brats like carter.

I personally dont think that Nash asks for a trade if columbus never brought in carter.  carter started pouting from the begining, causing an atomosphere of depression from day 1 that columbus never seemed to be able to shed.

Posted by gretzky_to_lemieux on 02/29/12 at 11:25 AM ET


No remarks about Mike Priest?  Yes, Howson has been terrible, but what about the guy above him?  Surely he knew about potential deals for Nash and yet he allowed Howson to stand still?  And why did Mike Priest allow Scott Howson to throw Nash under the bus?

You might see changes and improvements if the team had a new president.

Posted by BK from Dublin on 02/29/12 at 12:35 PM ET

DocF's avatar

From top to bottom, the whole management structure of this team is nasty and incompetent.  One of the reasons why I switched insurance companies. 


Posted by DocF from Now: Lynn Haven, FL; was Reidsville, NC on 02/29/12 at 02:35 PM ET

statelouis26's avatar

Agreed, Howson has done a very poor job.  Mainly his inability to draft talent and bad contracts.  Huselius, Vermette, Umberger, Wisniewski, Methot…the list could go on a while.  Only 1 first round pick of the last ten years has turned into a star- Rick Nash.  Howson has been around for the last five which includes Filatov, Moore, Voracek, and Johansen.  Awful.  During that time, only Calvert, Savard, Atkinson, Mayorov have made it to the NHL with virtually little to no impact.  Pathetic.

Posted by statelouis26 from Detroit, MI on 02/29/12 at 09:50 PM ET


I honestly am discusted with this article. There seems to be a trend in the media when it comes to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Ignore them until someone brings up Rick Nash. Its easy to blame the GM for all these problems but it is not Howsen’s fault. It is the Blue Jackets scouts. And stop with the “Nash asked to be traded”, and tell the whole story. If you wouldve read Nash’s statement you wouldve read that he wants to be traded for the good of the team, aka he wants what is best for the team even if that is staying till the summer.

I live 15 minutes away from Nationwide Arena and have been playing hockey for 10 years. I’ve had season tickets in the past and have always followed the Blue Jackets. It is always very hard to support them when over half of Ohio sees them as an exaggerated version of what they are, a prodominately losing team. But in Columbus, there is always someone to blame, whether it is the GM, coach, or front office. The article blames the general managers in place for bad picks but they fail to realize that scouts greatly influence the general managers picks. For example, in 2003 the Blue Jackets drafted Nikolai Zherdev as their first round pick, 4th overall. He was big in Columbus and everybody knew his name. We were so happy with our pick and many thought we could make the playoffs for the first time. We did not. Zherdev today has scored 100 career goals in the NHL and plays in Moscow. The 2003 entry draft contained many stars eventhough Zherdev was not one of them. In fact Dion Pheneuf, Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler and Corey Perry went after Zherdev. All are seen as stars today in the NHL, Zherdev is not known at all.

Lets move to the 2005 entry draft. Jackets select 6th overall Gilbert Brule, he now plays for Phoenix after being claimed off of waivers for the 2nd time in his career. He has 38 career NHL goals. He was also taken before Marc Staal, James Neal, Paul Statsny and Anze Kopitar. Anze Kopitar is on track to have 6 consecutive seasons over 20 goals and 60 points.

2006 CBJ 6th overall Derrick Brassard, later selected Claude Giroux

The Blue Jackets make terrible draft picks. This is their problem. Teams get good players, we get burnouts. Nash wasnt surrounded with good players and he didnt do his best because he wasnt. If you think I’m lying watch clips of him from the olympics when he hit skated as hard as he could and made all around great plays instead of standing at the blue line and not playing defense. Dont blame the GM blam the scouts who make terrible picks for the GM and made Nash into a player that didnt care

Posted by JKRNYLACOL from Columbus, Ohio on 02/29/12 at 11:08 PM ET


GMs still make the final call. Look at the New York Rangers. Through about 2004 or 2005 Glen Sather was still taking a front-seat role in drafting. Since then, he’s trusted his scouts more, and the Rangers as a result have drafted much, much better, grabbing guys like Staal, Anisimov, and Hagelin.

As it is, the GM is still in control of scouting. If he has bad scouts, he should get new ones. He can send them to more thoroughly scout the players they’re looking to draft.

On Zherdev specifically, he’s a reported locker room cancer, but he’s still a top-six forward. It’s just that off-ice issue, which a GM should really find out about from coaches and pre-draft interviews.

As it is, the Jackets’ *skaters* have not exactly been overwhelmed the past couple of seasons. It’s been poor goaltending that’s been most, if not completely, responsible for doing them in.

Posted by Ralph on 02/29/12 at 11:20 PM ET

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imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

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