The Columbus Blue Jackets had a miserable 2011-2012 season to say the least. It all started with their off-season moves made, by General Manager Scott Howson. One of their biggest moves was trading one of their top prospects in Jakub Voracek and their first round draft pick in exchange for forward, Jeff Carter of the Philadelphia Flyers. That first round pick turned out to be a shutdown defender for the Flyers’ in Sean Couturier, who eventually helped thwart top scorer Evgeni Malkin in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Not only did Columbus gain a bad contract in Carter, but they signed defenseman James Wisniewski to a six-year-contract to man their blueline in the future.
The Blue Jackets’ got off to a horrid start in the regular season, losing James Wisniewski for the first few weeks of the season due to a suspension dished out by Brendan Shannahan. Midway through the season, Blue Jackets’ management realized they needed a change and decided to go with Todd Richards as their interim head coach for the remainder of the season. Columbus played much better in the second half of the season, even though they lost several players due to the changing culture of the team going forward. Rumors swirled about the potential departure of franchise winger, Rick Nash but the team held firm at the potential offers. Following Richards appointment to interim head coach, the Blue Jackets’ finished off the last part of the year with an 18-21-2 record. They went 16-14-1 in the final 31 games, allowing the team to become acquainted with Richards as their new head coach.
Columbus inked Richards this week for a two-year-deal to remain as head coach of the Blue Jackets. Management decided he would be a better fit than other potential head coaches on the market. General Manager Scott Howson talked about keeping Richards as head coach when they announced the two year extension. “At the end of last season, Craig and I reviewed all aspects of the year and took a close look at the job Todd did leading our club over the final 41 games. As we analyzed available coaching candidates and individuals who might become available, it became very clear to us that he is the right person to lead our team. Our team continuously improved under Todd and he has earned the opportunity to build upon the work he started.”
The Jacket’s acquired some younger talent near the trade deadline in young defenseman Jack Johnson from the Los Angeles Kings. Howson felt that change in culture was needed going forward in the Blue Jackets’ organization. “We have high expectations and feel a sense of urgency to improve this team and establish a culture in which competitiveness and accountability breed success.”
Following the announcement, Richards talked about taking over this team as they head to next year. “I am very grateful to the McConnell family, our ownership group, Scott, Craig and the organization for the opportunity to continue as the head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets. We have a lot of work to do to give our fans the type of team they want but I am really excited about what lies ahead. We made strides last season and I’m confident that our players are ready for the challenges before us.”
The Blue Jackets’ have quite a challenge ahead of them as they prepare for next season looking to become relative once again in the hockey world.