Is Scott Howson the right man for Blue Jackets’ rebuild?
If you’ve ever stayed awake long enough in a government class, you’ve probably heard about how the U.S. presidency changes hands in a “peaceful transfer of power.”
The NHL provides some rather interesting transitions between general managers, but not every new one has a particularly placid first year or so. (Example: as much as I disagree with Jay Feaster’s general philosophy in Calgary, it’s not like former Flames GM Darryl Sutter left him with a rich set of options.)
Blue Jackets hit the reset button (again)
For all the mistakes he’s made, Columbus Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson has made things a lot better in the last week than they were before. Antoine Vermette is a nice player, but it’s hard to argue with stockpiling picks because the two-way forward simply makes more sense on a mid-level contender such as Phoenix. Jack Johnson carries many of the same flaws as Jeff Carter - really, it only makes sense that he’ll wear No. 7 in Columbus too - but getting a quality young player like him and a solid first-rounder remains impressive.
Still, the question remains: whether Rick Nash stays or goes, does Scott Howson deserve to be the architect of the next rebuild?
My instinctive response is probably the same as most: “No.”
That being said, I cannot help but see some parallels between Howson’s situation and that of Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray. Both read the tea leaves and cleaned house. Each received a lot of heat for their teams’ failings.
Murray’s Senators are now on the verge of a surprise playoff run and play a captivating style to boot.
Naturally, there are some differences, too. Murray’s hockey resume is much larger - and more distinguished - than Howson’s comparatively limited experience. Being far-from-loyal to coaches is one of things that spawned a lot of mockery of Murray, but he wouldn’t have been able to hire likely Jack Adams finalist Paul MacLean if he didn’t have that itchy trigger finger.
(Some call it deflecting blame; others might say he was decisive. It’s probably both.)
The man in charge in Columbus will have some appealing assets to work with next summer, especially if Howson trades Nash.
Obviously it would help to know which GM candidates might be available this summer, but humor us with your thoughts: is Howson worthy of a chance to rebuild the Blue Jackets? Would it be wiser to clean the slate with a bountiful stash of draft picks in the next season or so?