Blue Jackets offer Hamilton Bulldogs coach Guy Boucher head coaching job

It’s been a while since we discussed the Columbus Blue Jackets at Pro Hockey Talk, and really, it’s with good reason. They stunk up the joint during the 2009-10 season, causing Ken Hitchcock to get canned and Steve Mason to wonder if he really belongs in the NHL.

The team is trying to bounce back and one of the first calls to action is hiring a new coach. TSN reports that GM Scott Howson extended an offer for the head coaching gig to Hamilton Bulldogs coach Guy Boucher. They’re still waiting for a decision from Boucher as of this time.

NHL sources told the Dispatch that Boucher is sitting on the offer this weekend with plans to give his response to Blue Jackets’ general manager Scott Howson sometime next week.

In his first year in the AHL, Boucher guided the Bulldogs to a first place finish in the Western Conference with 115 points. The team was upset by the Texas Stars in the Conference Finals last month.

If Boucher accepts, it will continue a growing trend of NHL teams hiring successful AHL coaches rather than going for retreads such as Mike Keenan. For instance, Bruce Boudreau helped the Washington Capitals go from frustrating to explosive while Dan Bylsma won a Stanley Cup during his first half-season coaching the Pittsburgh Penguins. While I believe that it’s good to give people a second chance – especially if they were working in a hopeless pit of puck despair like Florida – there’s also a point where you know someone cannot “cut it.”

One interesting tidbit is that Howson was once the general manager of the Hamilton Bulldogs when the team was an Edmonton Oilers affiliate (right now, they’re an affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens). One can assume that Howson still has some ties with that organization, and only heard good things about Boucher.

Again, Boucher is still mulling the offer over, so this is far from a done deal. We’ll let you know when (or if) it is.

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    ‘He doesn’t seem to get rattled’: Blues officially name Alex Pietrangelo team captain

    St. Louis Blues' Alex Pietrangelo (27) skates against the Chicago Blackhawks' in an NHL hockey game Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Bill Boyce)
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    The news leaked a day early, but on Thursday the St. Louis Blues made it official: Alex Pietrangelo is the 21st captain in the club’s history.

    Selected fourth overall in 2008, Pietrangelo has played 459 games for the Blues, with 51 goals and 255 points in that span. He takes over the ‘C’ from David Backes, who signed with the Boston Bruins as a free agent this summer, following the Blues’ run to the Western Conference Final.

    “Watching him perform when the game is on the line, he doesn’t seem to get rattled,” said Blues GM Doug Armstrong of Pietrangelo, as per the club’s website.

    “As the captain, you have to answer questions, the tough questions when games are over. I really like his personality, his demeanor to his teammates, to the coaching staff and to the media. He’s someone that has the respect of everyone.”

    In an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch at the end of July, Pietrangelo praised Backes for the impact he had on the young defenseman as he was developing with the Blues.

    “I think being so close with Dave over the five years he was captain, I’ve learned a lot from him just kind of sitting back and seeing how he operates on a daily basis,” said Pietrangelo.

    “Not only on the ice but off the ice, which is a big part of it trying to keep the locker room together and doing the off-ice stuff.”

     

    Coyotes GM: Bolland ‘won’t be ready to play for the foreseeable future’ due to injury

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    Arizona Coyotes fans anticipating Dave Bolland‘s debut for his new team will have to wait, and a long time, too, by the sounds of it.

    On Thursday, the Florida Panthers traded the 30-year-old Bolland and prospect Lawson Crouse to the Coyotes in exchange for draft picks. Bolland, who has an annual cap hit of $5.5 million, played in only 25 games last season, scoring once with five points.

    The move frees up plenty of cap space for the Panthers, while the Coyotes did well to pick up a young forward in Crouse, a former first-round pick who has yet to play in the NHL.

    However, at the moment, Bolland is dealing with an injury that could keep him out of any lineup for quite a while. Perhaps the entire season.

    Last season, Bolland was a healthy scratch on numerous occasions, which could be frustrating for any player or any organization, but he was locked into a massive five-year, $27.5 million contract.

    And that massive contract, or Florida’s desire to move it along, has cost the Panthers a prospect forward.

    Video: Pavel Datsyuk scores first goal since returning to KHL

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    Pavel Datsyuk’s venture into the KHL has been official for a while.

    This latest development might add salt in the wound of Red Wings fans who wish the skilled but aging center was still playing for the Original Six franchise.

    He has now scored his first goal since returning to the KHL. Another former NHLer, Ilya Kovalchuk, set it up off the rush. Datsyuk finished off the play with a slick backhander coming down the right wing.

    After it took weeks to decide his future with the Red Wings, Detroit finally unloaded his contract to Arizona at the draft in June.

     

    Poll: Will Jaromir Jagr lead the Panthers in scoring again?

    NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 14:  Jaromir Jagr #68 of the Florida Panthers signals a teammate during the third period against the New York Islanders at the Barclays Center on March 14, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    This is part of Florida Panthers day at PHT…

    At age 43 Jaromir Jagr was the oldest player in the NHL last season by more than four years.

    You would have never known it when watching him play.

    He was still a dominant top-line player and on many night was the best player on the team. His 66 points were more than any player in NHL history age 43 or older, and he finished as the team’s leading scorer.

    While he has obviously slowed down from where he was during his peak years in the league when he was one of best players ever, he is still playing at a level that almost no other player in NHL history has been able to match at this age. And there doesn’t seem to be any sign of him dramatically slowing down in the near future.

    Because of that, the Panthers are bringing him back in 2016-17 for at least one more year.

    So with Jagr back in the mix for another year, will he end up leading the Panthers in scoring once again even though he will be 44 years old? Jagr is one of just three players in NHL history that has ever finished as his team’s leading scorer over the age of 40, a list that includes only him, Gordie Howe and Teemu Selanne. He is the only player that has done it over the age of 43 and the only one that has done it for two different teams (New Jesrey in 2013-14 and Florida in 2015-16).

    The one player that seems to be a significant challenger is Aleksander Barkov. He finished just seven points behind Jagr in 2015-16 (in 12 fewer games) and spent most of the season playing on a line with Jagr and Jonathan Huberdeau, a trio that was one of the most dominant lines in the league when they were together. But given how Jagr still seems to be in great shape and was still a 60-point player a year ago he is not going to be easy to overtake.