The Columbus Blue Jackets were supposed to have a team dinner at the owner’s house on Sunday.
Just in case you were wondering how things were going for that team.
After an 0-6-0 start to what was supposed to be a breakout season, head coach Todd Richards said after Saturday’s 4-1 loss in Chicago that he’d been given no assurances about his job status.
The Jackets, so far, have not called any press conferences. They host the Islanders Tuesday before hitting the road for four games.
If a coaching change isn’t made this week, it could come after the four-game trip. The Jackets host the Jets on Halloween, before traveling to California for three games starting Nov. 3 in San Jose.
Of course, by that point, if things haven’t turned around, the season could already be lost. Crawling out of an 0-6-0 hole will be tough enough.
Not that Richards should shoulder all the responsibility for what’s gone on, but that doesn’t change the fact that firing the coach is the easiest way to shake things up.
Nor does it change the fact that Richards’ team has looked disorganized defensively, surrendering at least four goals in each of its six games. Sergei Bobrovsky has been poor, yes. But that only begs another question: why did Bobrovsky start the first five games before Richards finally gave Curtis McElhinney the nod?
On top of all that, it’s not like Richards is Claude Julien or Darryl Sutter, each of whom has won the Stanley Cup. Richards hasn’t even come close to that. He’s only made the playoffs once in five full seasons as a head coach in the NHL.
Richards’ contract with the Jackets runs through next season. When he signed his extension in May of 2014, after the team lost in the first round of the playoffs, GM Jarmo Kekalainen called him “one of the top young coaches in the NHL because of his knowledge of the game, work ethic and ability to communicate well and bring out the best in our players.”
Unfortunately for the Blue Jackets, the best of their players has not been brought out in 2015-16, and that’s left Kekalainen with a decision to make.