Will Jackets Make Another Coaching Change When The Season Ends?

The Blue Jackets want to move forward and build a team that can compete. With new General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen in town and ready to take charge, questions remain whether current head coach Todd Richards will be apart of the Blue Jackets’ future plans.

Richards has gotten off to a slow start but the lockout and a blockbuster trade that sent Rick Nash to the New York Rangers did not help the situation. After taking over for Scott Arniel last season when Arniel was let go, Richards managed to get the team to be competitive at times but the season had already been lost at that point. Richards did not have the benefit of a full training camp due to the lockout and with new players in the mix, he hasn’t exactly been set up for success.

The Kekalainen as General Manager and John Davidson overseeing lots of the team operations, a coaching change this offseason could happen. With the team looking to take a new direction, there is a chance that team management could feel that someone else out there is a better fit.

Richards has not done a horrible job coaching but with a younger lineup and more changes to probably come this offseason, the team may want to go in another direction. Richards has not done horribly as a head coach but the team may want to start with a fresh face and approach.

One possibility that has been flying around this past week is former Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff. Even though Ruff was considered to be stale after a while in Buffalo, he was there 16 seasons and the Sabres were very competitive in the early years of his coaching tenure. Ruff struggled the last few seasons to utilize the talent available though and the Jackets may not want to go with a head coach who struggled with utilizing the talent he had.

Another possibility that always seems to be mentioned is former Sabres and Islanders head coach Ted Nolan. Nolan has been off the radar for NHL teams since the Islanders fired him a few seasons ago but has done well in the NHL. Nolan has experience working with young teams and tends to get the most of the talent he has on the roster. Whether or not Nolan wants to return to the NHL still has to be answered but reaching out to him is worth the try.

Other former NHL coaches that could be possibilities but may not be as likely include Dale Hunter and Craig MacTavish. Hunter had success with the Washington Capitals as an interim coach last season but rumor had it he wanted to go back to his business interests and his junior team the London Knights. It was also rumored Hunter did not get along with Alex Ovechkin and an NHL comeback may not be likely. Craig MacTavish had some success early on in his tenure as head coach of the Edmonton Oilers but whether or not he could work with the talent the Jackets have is still a huge question.

Richards still has the season to finish out as head coach but whether he will be back next season has yet to be seen.

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~ by jeffrsabo on February 23, 2013.

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