October 20, 2011
The Columbus Blue Jackets are 0-5-1 on the season, without question the prime suspect for an early-season bust as Jeff Carter's(notes) out with a broken foot and James Wisniewski's(notes) still two games away from having his suspension end.
But the real story isn't 0-5-1. The real story is 3-17-8, as in their record stretching back to last season. And the really real story is "one," as in the number of regulation victories the Blue Jackets have in that span.
The Jackets play back-to-back games this weekend, with the Detroit Red Wings on Friday and the Ottawa Senators on Saturday. One of those games is immensely winnable. The other one is against the Detroit Red Wings.
So what happens, in a worst case scenario, if the Blue Jackets leave the weekend at 0-7-1 on the season? Does Coach Scott Arniel get the Bob Hartley treatment in an ultra-competitive Western Conference and with $64 million invested in the roster?
Team president Mike Priest and GM Scott Howson, who fund and fill that roster respectively, say "no."
Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch caught up with both about this teetering Titanic of tension (we should write movie taglines), and Priest believes we need to see the Blue Jackets fully armed and operational before passing judgment:
"I absolutely feel (that we can win)," he said. "Time will tell, but we are absolutely committed to winning. We demonstrated that this summer, and we're not going to rest until we win. We hoped we wouldn't be where we are. We have to keep pushing through this, but we also need to see our team. We don't have our team. … When we have our whole team assembled, and we have time to digest it, then we'll be able to really take a hard look and evaluate it."
Priest gave Howson a vote of confidence, who in turn gave Arniel a vote of confidence:
"Three wins overall … that's an alarming statistic," Howson said. "But it's hard to connect the end of one season with the beginning of another. I think we have a great coaching staff and we're going to find our way out of this."
Howson also said he's "not close to making any" trades, which means we'll probably have someone leaking a trade rumor soon to light a fire under their asses.
Again, you feel for the Jackets. Carter hurt. Wiz banned. Methot banged up. Mason as their goalie. But results are results. Barry Melrose didn't get any in 16 games and was canned; what's the Arniel threshold?