Columbus Blue Jackets’ coach Brad Larsen has been fired after two seasons of not making it to the playoffs. The team’s General Manager, Jarmo Kekalainen, said that this was a must-do decision. He didn’t explain why he thought Larsen wasn’t the best coach for the team but on Saturday morning, he told both Larsen and players about his decision, without telling them when he made it.
Kekalainen said, “It was clear that we need to make a change”. The Blue Jackets were at the bottom of their division and overall in the NHL. Even though they were injured for most of the season, they let go of Larsen who was still with them until next year.
Since John Tortorella left, Columbus has lost 102 out of their 164 games and Manny Legace, the goaltending coach, is not returning after five seasons. Coach Kekalainen said it’s necessary to make these changes and he respects the coaches that were let go.
Larsen, who is 45-years-old, had worked as an assistant to the Blue Jackets coach, Tortorella, and his predecessor Richards for seven years before getting a promotion.
When the team’s President (John Davidson) and Kekalainen picked Larsen in 2021 rather than more experienced coaches like Gallant and Tocchet, they said it was because he can communicate well with others, plus he knows the organization better than anyone else. Kekalainen also stated that Larsen deserved this new job and will bring a ‘fresh, new voice’ to the team.
When he was starting out, Larsen said that it would take some time for him to get used to things.
He told everyone at his introduction, “I’m sure I will make mistakes but this is just part of the learning process.”
Larsen won’t be with the Columbus team anymore. This team is hoping to get Connor Bedard, who everyone thinks is the best player since Connor McDavid joined the league in 2015. Columbus have a pretty good chance of getting Connor Bedard, which is 13.5%.
If the team, which was created in 2000 and hasn’t done well in playoffs yet, wins the lottery, it could change its fate. Kekalainen said he won’t make a decision quickly when it comes to finding a coach, and will look at what other teams are doing first.
Recently, three coaches in the NHL have lost their jobs because their teams haven’t been doing well for some time. Teams such as the Anaheim Ducks, Washington Capitals and Dallas Eakins all had losing seasons and so these coaches have to go find different jobs. The new coach deciding if they want the job might not even wait until after the lottery on May 8th is over before making a decision – it could affect what happens right away.
“It’s still uncertain yet, but when deciding who will be the next head coach on our team that choice could impact what kind of team we’ll have for the upcoming year,” said Kekalainen. “All these pieces are important to think about before making a final decision.”