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Is Scott Howson the right man for Blue Jackets’ rebuild?

Feb 24, 2012, 8:30 AM EDT

howsonap AP

If you’ve ever stayed awake long enough in a government class, you’ve probably heard about how the U.S. presidency changes hands in a “peaceful transfer of power.”

The NHL provides some rather interesting transitions between general managers, but not every new one has a particularly placid first year or so. (Example: as much as I disagree with Jay Feaster’s general philosophy in Calgary, it’s not like former Flames GM Darryl Sutter left him with a rich set of options.)

Blue Jackets hit the reset button (again)

For all the mistakes he’s made, Columbus Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson has made things a lot better in the last week than they were before. Antoine Vermette is a nice player, but it’s hard to argue with stockpiling picks because the two-way forward simply makes more sense on a mid-level contender such as Phoenix. Jack Johnson carries many of the same flaws as Jeff Carter – really, it only makes sense that he’ll wear No. 7 in Columbus too – but getting a quality young player like him and a solid first-rounder remains impressive.

Still, the question remains: whether Rick Nash stays or goes, does Scott Howson deserve to be the architect of the next rebuild?

My instinctive response is probably the same as most: “No.”

source: APPossible parallels

That being said, I cannot help but see some parallels between Howson’s situation and that of Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray. Both read the tea leaves and cleaned house. Each received a lot of heat for their teams’ failings.

Murray’s Senators are now on the verge of a surprise playoff run and play a captivating style to boot.

Naturally, there are some differences, too. Murray’s hockey resume is much larger – and more distinguished – than Howson’s comparatively limited experience. Being far-from-loyal to coaches is one of things that spawned a lot of mockery of Murray, but he wouldn’t have been able to hire likely Jack Adams finalist Paul MacLean if he didn’t have that itchy trigger finger.

(Some call it deflecting blame; others might say he was decisive. It’s probably both.)

The man in charge in Columbus will have some appealing assets to work with next summer, especially if Howson trades Nash.

***

Obviously it would help to know which GM candidates might be available this summer, but humor us with your thoughts: is Howson worthy of a chance to rebuild the Blue Jackets? Would it be wiser to clean the slate with a bountiful stash of draft picks in the next season or so?

  1. cincycbjfan - Feb 24, 2012 at 8:45 AM

    One word… No. And…

    “Oh, and if Howson does stay, should he keep Scott Arniel as his head coach? Do tell.”… did I miss another late – 9:00pm EST – News Conference where he fired Richards and re-instated Arniel?!?!

    • Jason Brough - Feb 24, 2012 at 9:40 AM

      Fixed. Thanks. James will be running laps today.

      • bcisleman - Feb 24, 2012 at 12:00 PM

        This is a hockey blog. He does a bag skate: “Again, Again, Again!!!”

  2. taytay099 - Feb 24, 2012 at 9:01 AM

    “Oh, and if Howson does stay, should he keep Scott Arniel as his head coach? Do tell.”

    That would be a good question if it was asked in early January.

  3. east96st - Feb 24, 2012 at 9:23 AM

    James – I’m sorry. You lost ALL credibility by even asking the question. Everyone who knows anything about the Jackets knows that Howson and Priest never should have been hired, let alone allowed to stay. Then you proceeded to stomp all over your dignity by asking about Arniel. C’mon man, we all know the team is awful. That’s no excuse to file a sloppy story. You cover ALL of hockey. That means doing your homework on the awful teams, as well as, the good ones.

  4. contraryguy - Feb 24, 2012 at 9:45 AM

    Well you can make it an early weekend… no headline on PHT will be funnier than this one today.

  5. bcisleman - Feb 24, 2012 at 12:03 PM

    If you are replacing Howson for the rebuild, why hasn’t it already been done? The key decisions are the trades as well as what’s done with the picks. If he isnt the guy, then he should have been replaced already. Question is, with who?

    • east96st - Feb 24, 2012 at 5:09 PM

      All kidding aside, Howson and Priest (let’s be honest, Howson is just the puppet in Columbus. Priest pulls the strings.) are so pathetic that I would be willing to wager buying season tickets for the Jackets for LIFE that my 11 year old – given the same amount of money to spend as Howson had last offseason – could also manage the Jackets into last place in the NHL. Really, is it hard to be better than an absolute failure? The bar is set pretty damn low here. Make Patrick the President and let HIM hire a GM. Pretty confident that Patrick would find a guy that would do a better job than the Howson/Priest combo.

  6. pavelfitzgerald - Feb 24, 2012 at 1:56 PM

    Cut “James” a break. Posts like these are used to inspire dialogue & conversation. If he had simply wrote how bad Howson is there’d be nothing for people to comment about

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