Welcome to the second edition of the changes happening in Columbus this summer, and we are only halfway through the month of June. This series covers the coaching changes in the Metropolitan Division; the Final Four; Expansion and Entry Drafts; Currency; NHL Fan Choice Awards; trade rumors; changes in the hockey operations; and contract signings.
Brad Larsen has been named the head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets; becoming the eighth coach in franchise history. Larsen is a former tough guy in the NHL, including winning the Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche. Larsen earned 48 points in 294 games with Colorado and Atlanta in his NHL career; and played parts of 9 seasons with the Hershey Bears, Chicago Wolves, and Portland Pirates. Larsen has been part of the Columbus Blue Jackets organization since 2010, spending four years with the Springfield Falcons and seven years as the assistant coach of the Blue Jackets. Larsen spent one full season with Todd Richards, and the other six with John Tortorella. Tortorella has had multiple desciples succeed in the league, including Mike Sullivan and his two Stanley Cups in Pittsburgh; Craig Ramsey, who coached in Atlanta and won the Cup in Boston as an assistant; and Glen Glulutzan who coached the Calgary Flames.
Larsen had success with the Springfield Falcons, making the postseason both seasons as head coach with the farm team. Players Cam Atkinson and Boone Jenner are the only active players on the Blue Jackets roster that was coached under Larsen in his career. Other players that Larsen coached that are active in the NHL include Ryan Johansen; Jonathan Marchessault; David Savard; Curtis McElhinney; and Matt Calvert.
The internal promotion comes as a surprise to the fans and analysts as the team also interviewed both Rich Tochett and former head coach Gerard Gallant, who is now part of the New York Rangers. Fan take has been very fiery over the decision as the view is the team will continue to go down the rebuilding route to recover from the selloff from the 2019 NHL Trade Deadline. Other analysts, including Kevin Allen of Hockeybuzz, are viewing the promotion as a competitive message as they are trusting the process to continue forward. Both general manager Jarmo Kekalainen and President John Davidson have mentioned the "Lars Bar" in interviews as Larsen's game-plan to compete now with the active roster construction.
The Columbus Blue Jackets have hired and promoted former players from the organization into player development roles in the franchise.
Rick Nash has been named director of player development after two years of being the assistant to the general manger in Columbus. The former first overall pick will be overseeing the growth of the players on the main roster in the Buckeye state. After asking to leave in 2012, his work in Columbus since retirement has been progressive.
Speaking of Nash, his former teammates including Derek Dorsett and Mark Letestu have been named development coaches with Columbus. Brad Thissen, who just wrapped up this season with the Cleveland Monsters -- the Jackets minor affiliate -- was named the newest goal-tending coach for Columbus.
Josef Boumedienne has become the the director of pro scouting for Columbus after serving as the European scouting director.
Jim Corsi left the team after serving the Jackets after the past couple years.
Nelson Ayotte, the director of high performance, announced his retirement; Ayotte was with the club since 2017.
All confirmed coaching changes are from the Columbus Dispatch.
In an interview with NHL.com, Kekalinen said he was looking to reward the players that played here with roles. This role of alumni is positive and healthy to see for Columbus as they can see and show the players and fans that people want to be and stay in the city, and hope for the team to succeed.
The Columbus Blue Jackets have offically signed winger Gregory Hoffman to a one year contract, worth $900K. Hoffman's contract rights were acquired early in the 2021 season from the Carolina Hurricanes for a conditional 2022 7th round draft selection.
The Columbus Blue Jackets have resigned center Kevin Stenlund to a one year contact extention worth $1.05M. Stenlund has earned 20 points in 68 regular season games in his short career, but Stenlund has been mixed between the middle and the wing. Stenlund has been a developing player working with Emil Bemstrom coming over from the Sweedish Hockey League.
Stanley Cup SemiFinals
As of June 17, 2021, the Stanley Cup Semi-Finals include the Vegas Golden Knights and Montreal Canadiens competing for the Clearance Campbell Trophy; and the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Islanders fighting for the Prince of Whales Trophy. There are seven former Blue Jackets on three of the four teams active rosters, including:
C William Karlsson (Vegas)
LW Jonathan Marchessault (Vegas)
RW Kegan Kolesar (Vegas)
LD Nick Holden (Vegas)
RW Josh Anderson (Montreal)
RD David Savard (Tampa)
G Curtis McElhinney (Tampa)
This shows the development this team has been able to have, but failing to maintain it within their own organization. The struggles are the money, marketplace, and desire to win by the players in the city compared to other places around the league.