January 27, 2012
NHL Notes: Owner stunned by plummeting Blue Jackets
By QMI Agency
Columbus Blue Jackets owner John P. McConnell may not be angry enough to fire his general manager, but he is stunned that his team is dead last in the NHL.
After some off-season moves sparked hope that the Jackets would be a playoff contender, the team managed just one point through its first eight games and never recovered. At the all-star break, Columbus had a 13-30-6 record.
"It has been crappy," McConnell told the Columbus Dispatch in an interview published Friday.
"It has just not turned out as we'd hoped or planned. Everybody wants to blame somebody when something goes wrong, and sometimes there's nobody to blame.
"To me, I think everybody in the organization has a little bit of blame."
After trading for centre Jeff Carter and signing defenceman James Wisniewski the Jackets were on a high. Then the puck dropped.
"Everybody was looking forward to this season, myself included," McConnell said. "I think that makes the fall even worse."
McConnell said team president Mike Priest and GM Scott Howson were safe, but that roster moves were pending. Carter, for one, is on the trading block.
McConnell said a decision would be made within two weeks whether to tweak the lineup or make major changes.
"When the 'nuclear' option is mentioned, I cringe less now than I did two months ago," he said. "That doesn't mean that's what we're going to do, but it certainly becomes a more realistic choice."
COYOTES HAVE THREE SUITORS?
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has media scrambling in Arizona to determine what other group might be interested in buying the Phoenix Coyotes and keeping them in the desert.
"There are probably three different groups that are taking a serious look at buying the Coyotes to keep them where they're located," Bettman said on his weekly radio show.
Two groups have been in the news for months: One is led by former San Jose Sharks CEO Greg Jamison; the other by Arizona lobbyist John Kaites and Chicago sports magnate Jerry Reinsdorf.
As for the third group, well, note that Bettman did say "probably."