Suddenly the Columbus Blue Jackets look like a lotto team again and have sunk to 13th place in the Eastern Conference, one point ahead of the embarrassingly bad Philadelphia Flyers and tied with the Florida Panthers. That’s not particularly good company, and it certainly wasn’t the expectation that this team would be drafting in the top five at the draft once again this summer.
The Jackets have made some strong personnel choices over the last few seasons as they try to build a contender in Ohio. James Wisniewski and Nathan Horton were signed as free agents while the team made shrewd trades to bring in Sergei Bobrovsky, Jack Johnson, Marian Gaborik and Brandon Dubinsky.
One of the missteps was the choice not to offer Vaclav Prospal a new contract this year.
While the sum of those parts hasn’t equaled success yet, this is a team with promise. It’s tough to look at the roster and not see that. What the Jackets seem to be sorely missing is leadership on and off the ice, and that’s something that Prospal provides in spades.
Head coach Todd Richards was quoted by the Columbus Dispatch following a loss to the New York Rangers at home on Thursday, and he implied that he was going to start benching big names if they didn’t pick up their games.
As per the Post: “The guys that would probably be out would probably be some bigger names,” he said when discussing what his lineup would look like with Matt Calvert and Boone Jenner in the fold.
Prospal was the team’s leading scorer last year and was pushed off of the team as youngsters like Calvert and Jenner emerged. This is a guy that wants to be part of the solution for Columbus though. Prospal wanted to be a Blue Jackets before it was even mildly cool, and the team could certainly use his calming presence right now.
With a five-game losing streak intact and the team scrambling for answers moving forward, this is a rare instance where dipping back into the past could actually help the future.