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Scott Howson out as Blue Jackets GM

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Was the Blue Jackets' firing of GM Scott Howson too late of a move for the franchise? (Getty Images)

Was the Blue Jackets’ firing of GM Scott Howson too late of a move for the franchise? (Getty Images)

By Allan Muir

Scott Howson, the second general manager in the history of the Columbus Blue Jackets, was fired Tuesday night.

Certainly no one can be surprised by this, not even Howson himself. The Jackets were miserable under him, his feckless five-year tenure marked by ineffective drafting, under-performing free agents and inept asset management. The team performed accordingly, making the playoffs once on the back of a superlative rookie season from Steve Mason in 2007-08, then descending into the role of punching bag…and punchline.

But the move begs two questions. Why now? And was it too late?

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  • Published On Feb 12, 2013
  • Blue Jackets to rely on John Davidson’s aggressive patience

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    Columbus Blue Jackets

    A brighter future for the Blue Jackets is just beginning to unfold in Columbus. (Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    Click on the Blue Jackets website and you’ll see John Davidson on the start page, the design of which looks strikingly like a campaign ad.

    Is JD running for office? Senator Davidson? President Davidson?

    Well, Ohio is a battleground state in next month’s general election, with the parties spending an inordinate amount of resources to win its 18 electoral votes, so maybe the Blue Jackets’ image consultants (or web designer) believes that the political motif is the best, most familiar way to get through to the team’s fan base.

    Or maybe this team has launched a campaign of its own, one to win its fans back. If so, it could have no better standard bearer.

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  • Published On Oct 25, 2012
  • Blues lose as John Davidson departs

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    With the NHL taking heat in the public relations arena because of the lockout, the game can always use a salesman like former St. Louis Blues President of Hockey Operations John Davidson. (Mark Buckner/NHLI via Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    Some time this week, the Blues will make it official that they have parted ways with John Davidson, a move that they are portraying as sadly necessary for a club that is awash in red ink. Because no individual is bigger than the team — even in the front office — you have to hope that this is a move for the best and the few million dollars that new owner Tom Stillman saved by buying out the remaining years on Davidson’s contract translates into a healthier organization. But it’s difficult to believe that the Blues are going to be better off without J.D.

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  • Published On Oct 01, 2012
  • Winter Classic foes continue their historic rivalry

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    The Flyers and Rangers have been at each other’s throats since the days of Dave Schultz and Philly’s infamous Broad Street Bullies. (Rusty Kennedy/AP)

    By Stu Hackel

    After months of buildup and promotion, the Winter Classic is finally upon us. It is, of course, nothing more than Game 569 of the regular season schedule, worth the same two points in the standings as any other game — or (sigh) two for the winner and one for the loser if it ends in a regulation tie.

    But the exposure and popularity this unique game has brought to hockey during the past four years can’t — and shouldn’t — be denied. For that we must credit the NHL’s partnership with NBC. Their deal may be far less lucrative for the league’s teams than the ones enjoyed by other major pro sports, but it’s the best the league has ever had, especially because
    NBC and its offshoots respect the product and help create new ways to expose it.

    The same can be said for the NHL’s deal with HBO which, through its”24/7″ series, provides an unprecedented look at the run-up to the game. Nothing has ever come close to bringing viewers inside the NHL as it really is, looks and sounds.

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  • Published On Dec 30, 2011
  • New coach Ken Hitchcock, the Blues, and the NHL’s 200-foot game

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    Ken Hitchcock is a Stanley Cup-winning taskmaster expected to whip the underachieving Blues into shape. (Jeff Roberson/AP Photos)

    By Stu Hackel

    Sunday evening, the axe fell for the first time this season on an NHL coach: Davis Payne, who told Jeremy Rutherford of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch the move was “shocking and disappointing.” Other than Payne, not very many people were shocked because the only disappointing thing was his Blues’ record (6-7-0). The bigger surprise to some is that Ken Hitchcock has replaced Payne, because the NHL rumor wire — which has only a fleeting relationship with fact — had Hitchcock resuming his old job as coach of the Blue Jackets.
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  • Published On Nov 07, 2011
  • Blues sale will bring value, strong fan base

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    St. Louis is a baseball-mad city, but the Blues are a hot ticket. (Mark Buckner/NHLI via Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    The news that the St. Louis Blues are for sale continues a season of disappointment for the team and its fans. Many had expected the Blues would be in the thick of the playoff race this season, but injuries and some underachievement did them in. Give them credit, however, for recognizing the need for change when they traded both their captain, Eric Brewer, and the guy who was considered to be the foundation of their youth movement, Erik Johnson, at the trade deadline in order to revamp their club and reset for the future.

    The Blues are a special organization in many ways, part of the NHL’s first big expansion and the first of the new teams to be something of a dynasty. An extraordinary connection between the city and the team was forged during those early years and in what was then a non-traditional hockey market despite many ups and downs — including a bankruptcy and an aborted sale by one-time owner Rolston-Purina that would have moved the club to Saskatoon. This franchise has endured both on and off the ice, and the connection with its fans remains strong. The Blues fill their arena every night and rank eighth in attendance among NHL teams. In a city known for its crazy passion for baseball’s Cardinals, the embrace of the Blues has always been heartening.
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  • Published On Mar 17, 2011
  • Will Crosby’s concussion be a game changer?

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    As the NHL’s premier player, Sidney Crosby’s voice is more likely to be heard on the scourge of headshots. (Jeanine Leech/Icon SMI)

    By Stu Hackel

    The outcry against hits to the head in the NHL has increased this month, in no small measure because an elite player, Sidney Crosby, has been sidelined by concussion problems.
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  • Published On Jan 19, 2011


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