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Brad Larsen fired as CBJ HC

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Blue Jackets fire Brad Larsen after pair of losing seasons

Brad Larsen has been fired as coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets after two seasons without a playoff appearance, a move general manager Jarmo Kekalainen called "absolutely a necessary change that we needed to make.
The Blue Jackets finished last in the Eastern Conference and 31st out of 32 NHL teams. While they were ravaged by injuries throughout the season after beginning it with expectations to contend, the call was made nevertheless to move on from Larsen, who had been under contract through next season.

Columbus lost 102 of 164 games since Larsen succeeded John Tortorella as coach. Goaltending coach Manny Legace also will not be back after five seasons on the job.


"I'm not going to dissect the strengths and weaknesses of the coaches that got let go today, out of respect to them," Kekalainen said. "But it was a lot of things that factored in that made us come to this conclusion, and it was absolutely necessary to make these moves."


Larsen, 45, was a Blue Jackets assistant for seven years under Tortorella and predecessor Brad Richards before getting promoted.


When Blue Jackets president John Davidson and Kekalainen chose Larsen in 2021 over more experienced coaches, including Gerard Gallant and Rick Tocchet, they cited his communication skills and thought his institutional knowledge of the organization made him the best fit. Kekalainen said Larsen had earned the promotion and that he was "going to be a fresh, new voice."


Larsen at the time said some patience would be needed.


"I'm going to learn more now," Larsen said at his introductory news conference. "I'm going to make mistakes -- I promise you -- but that's part of the process."


That process in Columbus will continue without Larsen. It might include Connor Bedard, the prospective No. 1 pick in the draft who is considered the most talented generational player since Connor McDavid entered the league in 2015. The Blue Jackets have the second-highest chance, 13.5%, of landing Bedard.

Winning the lottery could change the course of the franchise that came into existence in 2000 and has not gotten past the second round of the playoffs. Kekalainen said he was not going to rush into anything in the interview process and would see how the rest of the NHL landscape looks before hiring a coach.


Larsen became the third head coach since the NHL's regular season ended to lose his job. Dallas Eakins will not return to the Anaheim Ducks after four consecutive losing seasons, and Peter Laviolette won't be back for a fourth season with the Washington Capitals, who missed the playoffs for the first time in nearly a decade.


Kekalainen won't necessarily wait until after the lottery is drawn May 8 to make a hire based on the outcome, even though it could affect immediate expectations.


"I don't know if that would be the deciding factor," Kekalainen said. "If the decision's not made by then, it's something that factors into what kind of team we have here next year. All those things go into the process of evaluating the next head coach and who it should be."


"We need a change," Kekalainen said. "That became clear that we need a change."


"Kekalainen did not elaborate on why he thought Larsen wasn't the right person to lead the team from behind the bench. He informed Larsen and players of his decision Saturday morning and did explain exactly when he made the call.

Edited by Brewin Flames
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About time. I have seldom seen an individual so out of his element. He could not figure out line combos, how to play to his teams strengths and exploit weaknesses. This was less a firing as much as a mercy killing. Buh bye. 

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12 hours ago, yave1964 said:

Nooo, Larsen needed no help from gaudreau he managed to fire his own self.



More in a sens that he was just coming off a monster season in Calgary, and people talked about his decision to sign with the jackets, one might assume that the team would be a tad bit better, not finish with a horrendous record.

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  • 1 month later...

There is a perception around the league that "nobody wants to play in Columbus"..... and last I knew, Mike Babcock, winning records aside, was not the most pleasant person to deal with in a 'workplace environment'.

So....logic would dictate that if you combine the elements of a perceived 'no man's land' to play in, with an alleged 'toxic work environment' perpetrated by a guy who is so abrasive and anal, he makes Ron Hextall look mellow, then you would have a winning combination.

Ok, then.
Let's see what happens!

Side note:
What's the over/under on games into the season when Patrik Laine will be requesting a trade out of Columbus? :rolleyes: 

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41 minutes ago, TropicalFruitGirl26 said:

So....logic would dictate that if you combine the elements of a perceived 'no man's land' to play in, with an alleged 'toxic work environment' perpetrated by a guy who is so abrasive and anal, he makes Ron Hextall look mellow, then you would have a winning combination.


I remember reading an article from The Toronto Star many years ago that reported that during Mitch Marner’s rookie season (2016-17), Babcock asked Marner, who was then 19, to rank the Maple Leafs’ veteran players based on their work ethic. That list, given by Marner to Babcock in private, was later shared with at least one veteran Leafs player.  Talk about awkward .....


Johan Franzen, who played under Babcock in Detroit, told a Swedish media outlet that Babcock was a “great coach” but a “terrible person” and a “bully,” saying he’d been verbally abused by the coach and witnessed him treat others in an abusive manner.


With that being said Babcock, for all of his baggage, has won — and won big — at almost every level of hockey.


He’s won the Stanley Cup (2008 with Detroit), two Olympic gold medals (2010 and 2014 with Canada), an IIHF World Championship (2004 with Canada), a IIHF World Junior Championship (1997 with Canada) and a World Cup gold medal (2017 with Canada). He has a 700-418-183 career regular-season record with Anaheim, Detroit and Toronto (a .608 points percentage) and a 90-74 record in the playoffs, including Stanley Cup Finals berths with Anaheim and Detroit (two).


Columbus is desperate to get untracked.  I think:


1. Jarmo Kekalainen and John Davidson wouldn't hire Babcock without support and approval of front office.
2. It's their jobs on the line.
3. As I have read in various articles players have been consulted. It's doubtful he would have been hired if their were strong objections.   Zach Werenski wouldn’t speak directly to Babcock’s hiring, but said in a text message that “myself and the other players trust Jarmo completely to make the right decision, and, at the end of the day, we all want to win hockey games.”  Also a team source told The Athletic on Thursday that Kekalainen and members of the Blue Jackets’ hockey operations staff were talking to veteran players on the roster, trying to get a sense for how they’d respond if Babcock was named the coach. Two players granted anonymity by The Athletic to speak openly that they were asked by management to weigh in on multiple candidates.

4. None of us knows the full story behind Babcock's past behavior.
5. Is there risk in the hire/ ---> yup


41 minutes ago, TropicalFruitGirl26 said:

Side note:
What's the over/under on games into the season when Patrik Laine will be requesting a trade out of Columbus? :rolleyes: 


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Edited by pilldoc
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That's why I was careful to use words and phrases like, "...there is a perception" and "alleged", because, obviously, the outside fan DOESN'T know the full story.

Could be sour grapes players saying things....or it could be the truth. Only "Babs" knows for sure.
He did win in Detroit, but IMO, that was a mostly stacked team already that he needed to manage and basically not ^%$# things up over there.
Detroit already had a winning culture in place and had a strong sense of what they wanted to accomplish, how they wanted to accomplish it, and seemed to have people in all the key roles to do so.
Not taking away what he did over there, but let's face it, at that point in time, Detroit always was an elite, or near elite team, every year, with talented young players and veterans out the wazoo.

Same could be said, talent-wise in Toronto, except the BIG difference there is, there IS no winning culture there...they still needed (hell, STILL need NOW) to get that....and he was working with mostly unproven playoff commodity players there, despite those players being uber talented.
I get the impression Babcock relied on proven veterans like he had in Detroit to essentially help him 'coach'.....and help him keep the room.
He didn't have that in Toronto. He was expected to manufacture that completely on his own with the people HE wanted on as assistants.
End result: Not so good.

As for his successes in the lower levels where he had mostly young players, sure, he did well. But in hearing what players have said about him, seeing his results, I just have to wonder if those great results he got before he got to the NHL were due to two things: He had players who were already naturally and elitely talented, where, once again, he just had to make sure nothing got messed up, and second, if he needed to, he could just brow beat and bully (if those things are true about him) until he got the results he wanted.....even if it left a trail of broken players in his wake.

As for borderline, fringe, or otherwise project players, those probably didn't stand too much of a chance of thriving under Babcock, again, if what has been alluded to about him is true.
Why would anyone want fringe, borderline, or otherwise not quite up to snuff players on their team, you may ask?
Wouldn't it be better to weed those types out? If so, Babcock is the guy, right?

Yes, and no.
Yes, players like that, in general, should be weeded out, BUT, on a case by case basis.
And NO, any player who isn't top shelf caliber at any given level shouldn't automatically be thrown away.
Project players.
Something to be said for really encouraging and getting the most out of even a mediocre type player.
I don't believe Babcock is the type of coach to do that kind of coaxing, and in fact, he may not even be interested in that.
"You either are ready, and CAN play, or you aren't"...that could be his motto, and ok, fair enough....but every elite squad NEEDS happy and loyal foot soldiers.....

Take John Tortorella for instance. All the grief he gets for being a hard ass, for being a guy some players can't stand.
He, at least, seems to get the most even out of pedestrian type players.
Talent plus hard work will ALWAYS trump hard work and mediocrity, but for all their similarities on how they may grate on people, at least Torts has shown a propensity to work with what he has, and get his teams to be more than the sum of their parts.

Babcock? Give him a bunch of talented players, and maybe some experienced vets, who don't question too much and he can just let them do their thing, while managing what he needs to here and there.
But I wouldn't expect him to make something out of a 'nothing' player like Torts seems to be able to do.

That is all speculation on my part of course, and the proof will be how he handles Columbus who certainly have a mixture of talent and so-so players, and some players who may need a bit of encouraging and coaxing to get the most out of them.
We will see soon enough if he can get players to row together, to play better above their pay grade, so to speak, and whether or not, there is an even bigger need for players to want out of Columbus.

If things don't go right with the Jackets, he could be done as a head coach as the illusion of magic that he supposedly brings will be exposed.

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