The Columbus BlueJackets are uncertainty, nestled in the arms inconsistency, fitfully supping on the milk of ambiguity. It’s likely going to cost John Torterella his job.
And it’s not his fault. We knew what this team was when the All-Star Break arrived. They were talented, which they remain. They were inconsistent, which they have doubled down on. What we didn’t know then, and will never know is what, beyond an enigma this team could be.
There are three viable ways to make changes at the deadline. The first is simply to add a player or two for depth so that no one on the roster has any doubt of management’s confidence level. The second is to boost a team by addressing a weakness. The last, is addition by subtraction. In any case your goal as a general manager, as a front office is to do one thing; Inspire the team to be better down the stretch, and ideally straight through to June.
Jarmo Kekalainen did none of these things. His deadline moves only added to the biggest problem the Columbus BlueJackets have. In all the moves made, the talent acquired, and the headlines made the Columbus BlueJackets still didn’t achieve the one thing every successful team in any sport has; an identity.
These BlueJackets are Jody Shelly’s puissant pugilists, they aren’t the no name collection of discards, low value prospects, and overpaid aging stars in the final days of Sergei Federov’s day. Ron Tuggnut is not going to be taking the crease the rest of this season nor at any point next. Which is the other thing Kekalainen failed at. Certainty.
With two premium pending UFAs one would hope that for the sake of eliminating distraction, a general manager who is tuned in would either extend or trade one of them. Nope, not here. Instead of delivering a new face or two Kekalainen went grocery shopping while hungry and left with one of everything. Adam McQuaid could be excused; He’s got a ring, he’s good in his own zone. Matt Duchene should be lauded, even with his limited playoff success; he’s dynamic. Keith Kincaid, nothing wrong with this pickup; you don’t win without goaltending. Ryan Dzingel savvy pickup; he plays all three forward positions, he’s paid his dues, and is still improving.
Individually any one of these moves is good. Any two of them is likely the right result. But together? They say something now general manager should ever admit to the their team. In unambiguous terms Jarmo Kekalainen said to his team, and to the world; I don’t know who you are, and I don’t know how to fix you.
This week’s podcast can be found here: Episode 110 of Two Man ForeCheck.
This week’s Twitter poll is right here: Who would you vote for in the Jack Adams race?