Well, he made it at least a month or two longer than just about anyone expected, but the Columbus Blue Jackets’ brass finally woke up and fired coach Scott Arniel after the Anaheim Ducks pasted his team 7-4. Frankly, it might have been fairer if the team expelled its two major front office members in a “package deal” considering the horrific missteps made by GM Scott Howson, but Blue Jackets fans will take what they can get.
Generally speaking, GMs tend to get a longer leash than coaches, even if I’d argue that they’re the most to blame more than half of the time. After all, it wasn’t Arniel who:
- Essentially signed Steve Mason to a desperation contract after he showed little-to-no sign that he’d replicate the first few hot months of his career. (Note: A common misconception is that Mason was great during his entire rookie campaign. It turns out that he was ridiculously productive for the first 2-3 months and then came back down to earth. Speaking with hindsight, it’s a shame Pekka Rinne didn’t win the Calder Trophy instead that season.)
- Howson made some questionable first-round draft pick decisions. Jakub Voracek seems OK, but he’s OK for the Philadelphia Flyers now. Nikita Filatov has been an enormous bust and he’s no longer with the Blue Jackets organization. John Moore hasn’t had a chance to make a significant NHL-level impact yet while Ryan Johansen is also undecided (if unproductive so far).
- One could argue that drafting Johansen instead of Cam Fowler forced Howson’s hand to overspend on James Wisniewski, whose contract looks arguably even worse than it did on the day it was signed. Either way, both the pick and the acquisition are looking highly questionable, if not like total losses.
- The organization’s inability to acquire a strong center also facilitated that panicky trade to bring in Jeff Carter, who hasn’t been healthy for much of this season. When he’s been playing, Carter has disappointed.
As you can see, it’s hard to pin all or even the majority of the blame on Arniel when the blood seems to be on Howson’s hands instead. Former Minnesota Wild head coach Todd Richards is taking over on an interim basis, but he won’t get an easy first game behind the CBJ bench as Columbus will play the Chicago Blackhawks tonight.
It’s hard to imagine anyone making a huge jump with Richards taking over, but the biggest fantasy benefit might come from someone gaining salvation from Columbus through a trade. About the only guy who I’d rather see remain in place is Vaclav Prospal, a forward whose 30 points surprisingly ranks him ahead of Rick Nash, who only has 29 right now.
Now that you’re updated on the biggest news of Monday, let’s do some housecleaning on some leftover suspension and injury items.
THE PUNISHED AND THE LUCKY
Brendan Shanahan & Co. made three noteworthy disciplinary decisions on Monday.
The biggest bit of news is that Brad Marchand received a five-game suspension for clipping Sami Salo. Some fans might argue that Marchand even got off lightly for his offense, but for Boston Bruins fans and his fantasy owners, this is a tough blow. (Honestly, it means a lot more to fantasy owners, because Boston could probably shake this off.) The worst part is that unlike injured players, a suspended guy doesn’t get to go on the IR while another player can have a short-term “audition” of sorts.
Keeping or dropping Marchand might come down to how desperate your situation is. He’s a fantastic combination of points and PIM, so I’d hesitate to drop him. Then again, you could try to be sly with the situation by doing an add/drop now and then pick him up after his third or fourth sit-down is complete. Either way, this suspension puts his fantasy owners in a tough spot. If you need every little point and penalty minute, then maybe you just have to suck it up and let him go, but it wouldn't be surprising if you regret it in the long run.
Far less people are likely to be impacted by the three-game suspension levied upon J.F. Jacques. About the only thing that really seems interesting about the situation is that it’s an initials-on-initials crime, as Jacques leveled R.J. Umberger.
The final noteworthy item is a non-decision; Francois Beauchemin did not get suspended for the hit that separated Jeff Carter’s shoulder. Surely people can debate the merits of that decision, but from a fantasy perspective, it’s tough to look at it as anything but a good thing.
The Kings offense actually showed some life in beating the Washington Capitals last night. The flip side is that Tomas Vokoun got pulled, so maybe the good times will be short-lived there … Ryan Suter’s contract situation seems questionable in Nashville, which might become especially relevant during trade deadline time. It already seemed like there would be an odd man out in the Big Three, but Pekka Rinne’s mammoth and risky deal more or less ensured that ... Jaroslav Halak will play in Montreal for the first time since his memorable playoff run with the Habs … With Jacob Markstrom and Jose Theodore banged up, Scott Clemmensen might have some solid short-term value. He only allowed one Vancouver Canucks goal in a surprising 2-1 Florida Panthers win last night.
Tough news for Patrick Sharp: his upper-body injury will sideline him for 3-4 weeks … Carter is likely in the “weeks” range with his injury, too … Jacob Markstrom’s knee injury might be worse than the Florida Panthers first anticipated … Dustin Penner managed to hurt his back while (wait for it) eating pancakes, but he returned on Monday after missing action on Sunday … Paul Martin and Craig Adams are also a little banged up in Pittsburgh, perhaps because they simply wanted to fit in … Nicklas Backstrom’s concussion issues might keep him out a while, which isn’t exactly the news that the Capitals wanted to hear, even if it seems logical. (Click here for the full injury list.)