The Columbus Blue Jackets will finally have some stability behind the bench when hockey returns to Nationwide Arena next season. After several tumultuous seasons, the coaches behind last season’s late surge and the 2013-14 record setting season have earned a long-term extension from the Blue Jackets front office.
As was reported by the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline, Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen told the coaching staff today that a long term deal will be coming soon:
I told the coaches today that we, as an organization, would like to make a long-term commitment to the whole group of them, because they’ve earned it. It will bring stability to the organization.
-Courtesy of The Columbus Dispatch
There was a time when Todd Richards was labeled as an interim head coach for the Jackets (final half of the 2011-12 season), but he quickly showed he should be given a chance to run the team. The 2013-14 season was his first full season with the Blue Jackets, as 2013 was a lockout shortened marathon that saw the Blue Jackets nearly qualify for the NHL postseason.
Richards is 85-70-16 since taking over as head coach and only Ken Hitchcock has more wins behind the Jackets bench (125).
More important for the Jackets is a long term deal brings some stability to a team that has been a coaching carousel / front office circus since 2000. It shows that the front office is on board with Richards’ coaching style and he is compatible with their vision of the future of this team.
The Blue Jackets “never say die” attitude in the post season can be attributed to Richards and his coaching staff. There were several times during the six game series with the Penguins that things could have fallen apart for the Jackets. However, the coaching staff demanded a work ethic that allowed the Jackets to come out and do what they needed to get back in games.