by PuckStopsHere on 02/13/13 at 01:22 AM ET
Today the Columbus Blue Jackets announced that they have fired GM Scott Howson. I have been publicly calling for this move for about a year. Howson has not done a good job in Columbus and there were questions when he was hired.
Howson had been the assistant general manager in Edmonton. He helped to build the team that was so poor that got the first overall draft pick three years in a row. For that he was rewarded with the chance to do the same in Columbus. The Blue Jackets are clearly a bad enough team that they can break the Oilers' streak of first overall draft picks.
In fact Columbus has never had a good GM. Doug MacLean, their previous GM, was no better than Howson. Now is a chance to try again. There is no replacement named yet but Jarmo Kekalainen is considered the most likely choice. He is the current general manager of Jokerit in the Finnish Elite League and served as an assistant GM in St Louis working under John Davidson who was the Blues president and is the current Blue Jackets president. I believe Davidson has the skills to bring in the first competent front office in Columbus team history. He did that in St Louis and he can do it again.
Columbus is off to a poor start. They have a 4-9 record with two regulation tie points. This has Columbus one point out of last place in the NHL.
One example of why Columbus is not going to succeed in the near future is their defence. Nobody in the NHL has more playing time than Jack Johnson on the Blue Jackets defence and Johnson cannot play defence. In fact he had the worst +/- rating in the NHL between the last two lockouts. Johnson isn't the guy you want to build around. He might be useful as a power play point man but he is not a useful player in his own zone. While he has yet to show that he is truly hopeless this season, he hasn't done anything to show he is a star worthy of the top ice time in the league but that is what he is getting. Columbus doesn't have the defensive depth to reduce his playing time and Scott Howson built that.
If Columbus is to turn things around they need to hire their first competent general manager. Scott Howson clearly showed he was not that man. I think John Davidson will do a good job in finding that man. The Blue Jackets sure hope that is true.
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