Tag: Mike Priest

Nashville Predators v Columbus Blue Jackets

Blue Jackets fans are going to protest and demand firings


You knew it had to happen eventually.

With how bad the Blue Jackets have been this season and the lack of forward progress they’ve seen in spite of firing former coach Scott Arniel, some Columbus fans have just about had it. Columbus Dispatch columnist Michael Arace finds out that some Blue Jackets fans are going to protest the team to try and make change happen.

On Saturday, as the NHL stands down for the All-Star break, some Jackets fans are planning to gather in front of Nationwide to demand the ouster of team president Mike Priest and general manager Scott Howson. The summons first went out on the web on Monday night — right after the Jackets staggered through a 4-1 loss at Nashville.

We’ve seen protests in Montreal against the hiring of Randy Cunneyworth but protesting a team for failing to get things right in a city desperate to root for a winner seems like a nobler effort. In Columbus where the team has made the playoffs once in team history and the team is perpetually losing money, wanting to see the people in charge ousted makes a world of sense.

The other side of this, however, is whether or not the fans can help make the message crystal clear that they demand better.

Really? The Jackets are planning to keep Howson?

2010 NHL Draft - Round One

Flying somewhat under the radar this weekend (which is to say, we totally missed this) was a report by the Columbus Dispatch that suggested Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson — along with team president Mike Priest — won’t be fired after the team’s miserable season is over.

Judging by the whispers and hints coming out of the Blue Jackets’ owners meeting last week, club president Mike Priest and general manager Scott Howson are secure in their jobs, even though the Jackets, with the highest payroll in franchise history, will miss the Stanley Cup playoffs for a third straight season.

Priest and Howson are said to have sold the ownership group on a plan that includes potentially significant changes before the 2012-13 season, but not the front-office and roster overhaul many within the organization and around the NHL believe is needed to simply get the franchise on par with the rest of the league.

Did you hear that, Jackets fans? “Potentially significant changes” are coming.

Frankly, I’m shocked ownership would consider bringing Howson back. I mean, it’s not like he just got the job – he’s been the GM in Columbus since 2007.

Howson’s decision to roll the dice with goalie Steve Mason after a summer spent adding millions and millions to the payroll was absolutely horrendous. Drafting Nikita Filatov was bad as well. Ditto for signing Mike Commodore to a big contract, eventually having to buy the defenseman out.

More from the Dispatch:

Don’t be surprised if [Jeff] Carter — ballyhooed as the long-awaited No. 1 center just six months ago — is sent packing to one of the many clubs in the NHL who are looking for a top-six forward.

Carter and [Rick] Nash have never shown signs of enhancing each other’s games, and although Carter has said all the right things about wanting to make it work in Columbus, his body language on the ice has been something different.

It’s hard to blame Howson for going after a top-line center like Carter to play with Nash. However, if Carter is traded prior to the deadline and the Jackets don’t land something comparable to what they gave up to the Flyers, it’s another big blunder to add to Howson’s resume.

Columbus hires Hockey Hall of Famer Craig Patrick

Craig Patrick

Big news out of Ohio today as the Blue Jackets announced they’ve hired former Pittsburgh Penguins GM Craig Patrick as a senior advisor. Patrick, 65, will be responsible for advising GM Scott Howson on trades, free agent signings, as well as evaluating Blue Jackets prospects.

“I am very pleased to add Craig to our organization,” said Howson. “He possesses a wealth of experience, having won two Stanley Cups and two Olympic medals, including gold with Team USA in 1980. His insight and knowledge will be invaluable to the Blue Jackets.”

Howson then mopped sweat off his brow and lit a cigarette. When asked what was wrong, he replied “What do you mean? Who said anything is wrong? NO, YOU’RE THE ONE THAT’S BEING DEFENSIVE.”

All joking aside, the Patrick’s presence could loom large.

For most of this season, Blue Jackets fans have clamored for a shakeup behind the bench (Scott Arniel) or in the front office (Howson). Arniel’s survived, probably because he’s seen as a good young coach saddled with a lousy team. That’s put more heat on Howson, the architect of said lousy team.

But Howson has also avoided the guillotine, thanks in part to fierce loyalty shown by the guy that hired him: Columbus’ team president, Mike Priest.

And here’s where it gets interesting. Priest isn’t a “hockey guy” by nature — prior to becoming president, he was the CFO of owner John P. McConnell’s holding company — partly why the Columbus organization’s been accused of lacking hockey knowledge and savvy.

Perhaps this is why Priest held onto Howson. Maybe he didn’t have a replacement at the ready. Hockey hires tend to work in one of two ways — either you hire from your inner circle (see: Doug Armstrong-Ken Hitchcock in St. Louis) or, if you don’t have an inner circle, you hire the guy with the best resume.

Which brings us back to Patrick. Resumes don’t get much better than his: He won the Sporting News NHL Executive of the Year three times and GMed the Penguins to two Stanley Cups, five division titles and 11 playoff berths.

So, could Patrick be coming on board as part of a succession plan? Possibly. He hasn’t held an NHL GM gig since 2006 and given the job scarcity (five GM jobs — Buffalo, Carolina, Washington, Detroit and Nashville — haven’t been available since the 90s), Columbus is as attractive an opportunity as any.

We also saw something similar in Calgary when Jay Feaster was hired to assist GM Darryl Sutter….only to replace him a few months later. (And Sutter was the guy that hired Feaster!)