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.