The following article is about the Columbus Blue Jackets, which makes it something of an oddity. I wrote it because it deals with NHL processes and decision making- two things that are frequently discussed here. Also, it’s nice to notice that other franchises can be more awful in how they’re run.
A strange thing happened after the 2012 NHL Entry Draft had ended: the Columbus Blue Jackets fired four amateur scouts including the assistant director of amateur scouting. Seeing a number of hockey operations personnel fired at the same time isn’t that unusual in and of itself. It most frequently happens when new management- whether a GM, team president, or owner- comes in. It rarely happens after the major event in which those personnel are involved has ended.
No real reason has been given for the firing, as far as I’m aware, but it’s hard to imagine a reason that makes sense. Let’s run down the possibilities.
1. Columbus didn’t like the advice the scouts gave during the draft
This doesn’t begin to make logical sense: the scouts should be giving advice well before the draft, and if it’s poor advice, management should be ignoring it. If they are being given poor advice before the draft, then management should also be firing them before the draft. If management isn’t taking amateur scouting advice before the draft at all, then management should really be fired.
2. Columbus just decided that a decade* of poor drafting was too much
*All of the fired scouts but one had been with the team since 2001. This basically falls under the last category: why wait until the 2012 Draft had ended? If Howson and company were really that sick of their services, they should’ve been fired before the draft.
3. Columbus decided to cut payroll.
If this is indeed the case, that’s a profoundly shit way to cut payroll. Wait until after the most important day of the year for them and give them a big ol’ severance check? And if you’re cutting payroll- why target the guys who can make or break your team in the future?
No matter what the reason is for this firing, it’s so amazingly and profoundly idiotic that no team but the Blue Jackets could have done it.
Aaron Portzline, Jackets beat reporter for the Columbus Dispatch, says that John Williams, the aforementioned assistant director of amateur scouting, was heavily involved in drafting both Ryan Johansen two years ago and Ryan Murray this year. Why fire a guy who did a bang-up job your eighth overall and who you just entrusted with your second overall?
Moreover- the team had just started getting good results from drafting- Cam Atkinson, David Savard, Ryan Johansen are all excellent young players or prospects- and Boone Jenner, Cody Goloubef and Matt Calvert have tons of potential too.
And yet- the Jackets had an entirely forgettable draft this year- taking two goalies (one at 31st overall while several high quality skaters were still available), a NHL ready defenseman who has limited upside, and a bunch of mediocre players. Perhaps the scouts were fired for disagreeing with such an insane draft strategy, but even then, firing them for disagreeing is probably the most insane reason for firing.
No matter how you shake it, none of this makes any amount of sense- aside from the sort of sense you get when you say “A team fired four of their amateur scouts directly after the draft- of course it’s the BJs.”