Team: Columbus Blue Jackets
They had a 34-40-8 record, and were pretty mediocre down the stretch. But the real story is that this team never really had a chance. They lost their first 8 games of the season, all in regulation. This ultimately led to the demise of coach Todd Richards; they could have hired an interim coach and rode out a lost season before scouring the open market for coaches in 2016, but instead, they hired.....
Your Head Coach
Ohhhhhhhhhh yeeeeeeeahhhhh baby! Torts is BACK! How's that working out so far for you guys?
The best part about this move is they gave up a draft pick to Vancouver just to hire him! They could've looked at a coach that wouldn't have cost them compensation. Hell, had they waited until January when the NHL just randomly decided to scrap this rule, Torts would've cost them nothing. But no; they just had to have Tortorella. The guy who lasted one season in his last job, and, in the job before that, was fired because his own players were ready to overthrow him! I gotta say, it's impressive when you're so bad at your job that the word "mutiny" gets thrown in there.
By the way, it took him all of a week to alienate the team's best player in Ryan Johansen, who was gone by January!
Anyway, there are two bright sides to this: (1) the NHL is a more entertaining place with Torts in it, presumably trying to murder either one of his players or the opposing coach; and, (2) if there's any team you'd want a coach that runs players out of town, best it be the team with too many overpriced bad players.
Your Starting Goalie
Sergei Bobrovsky, who as statistics show, is just giving less of a you know what pretty much every year:
My god, that's not regression; that's a cry for help. What is Columbus DOING to this poor guy? He's just given up in front of this team, and can you really blame him? He should invoke a right to free agency based solely on asylum.
Backing Bobrovsky up is Joonas Korpisalo and Curtis McElhinney. That just reminds me that this year's series is gonna have a whole lot of gripes about how the whole "Joonas" name became a thing. Was there some meeting in Scandinavia we were not aware of where they just changed the name on us?
New Things That Suck
Practically nothing! NOTHING AT ALL! They signed Sam Gagner on the cheap in a deal you're just hearing about now for the first time, but that's it. That's minor tinkering. Only good teams should be allowed to do minor tinkering. If you finished fourth-last in the entire league last season, you probably should be doing more than some minor tinkers. This is like changing the drapery in your house, which also happens to be on fire.
Also, they extended Seth Jones- the piece they got in exchange for running Johansen out of town- for six more years. But, they made room for his salary by buying out Fedor Tyutin, who was the only other player that would qualify as a competent defenseman. Just look at this list of blueliners; sheesh. I'm pretty sure Jack Johnson's Corsi rating is lower than his credit score.
Things That Still Suck
There's a reasonable explanation for why all the Blue Jackets have done is rearrange deck chairs on the Titanic: it's all they can do. They're not just a bad team, they're a cap team. They've invested so much money into bad contracts that there's no way out now. This team is like moving into a run-down, roach-infested apartment, but deciding to tough it out because you already dropped too much money on the security deposit and moving costs. They're trapped in a loveless marriage with their own salary cap.
Here is an actual list of where over $28MM of their money on forwards is going UNTIL 2019 AT LEAST:
Short of Saad, is that not the saddest list you've ever seen in your life? All of those players are so comically overpaid that they can't unload any of them; they're stuck with them all. They're stuck with the worst ever David Clarkson contract just because they thought it would be a good idea to sign the lifeless corpse of Nathan Horton!
The amazing thing is it is only just now that Jarmo Kekelainen is entering the conversation of the worst GM in the league. As if trading away Gaborik for peanuts, hiring a bad coach, then choosing the bad coach over your star player wasn't enough. We literally needed all of these bad contracts to add up to be like "okay, yeah; he's kind of sort of bad at this job." That, and passing on the OBVIOUS choice for your No. 3 pick because you couldn't successfully trade down.
Everything about this franchise is depressing. It hails from one of the most depressing states in the Union, which really is only relevant every four years at election time. The worst part is that they play in the least relevant city in the state of Ohio! Cleveland is bad, but now they have Lebron and championships. Cincinnati has bad chili and the blessed soul of Harambe. Columbus has.....uh, the Nationwide head office, I guess? They're not even a popular team in Columbus. Last season, they were fourth-last in NHL attendance with 81% capacity. They're basically something for drunk Ohioans to do when the Buckeyes aren't on.
Also, stop saying this team is likeable. They're only likeable because they're just too irrelevant for people to think about, let alone hate. We're talking about a franchise that has won two playoff games in their entire existence. They comparatively have made the Minnesota Wild look competent! Their crowning achievement in 16 years of existence is helping the Kings win two Stanley Cups. How is THAT likeable?
Why They Might Not Suck
Someone might be dumb enough to trade for Scott Hartnell, which would help their cap situation. Saad and Jones aren't bad, and if Bobrovsky does get his game back, they'll be okay. I'd suggest waiting until the Vegas Whatstheirfaces whisk away one of these bad contracts, though.