When a team goes 52-102 over the course of two seasons, you know it’s time for a change. That change came early Saturday morning by the Columbus Blue Jackets front office after they decided to part ways with Brad Larsen. A move that the Blue Jackets deemed necessary.
“We need a change,” GM Jarmo Kekalainen said. “That became clear that we need a change.”
The Blue Jackets finished last in the Eastern Conference and 31st out of 32 NHL teams. While they were ravaged by injuries throughout the season after beginning it with expectations to contend, the call had been made to move on from Larsen, who had been under contract through next season.
Brad Larsen was not the only coach let go by the Blue Jackets either. Goaltending coach Manny Legace also will not be back after five seasons on the job.
“I’m not going to dissect the strengths and weaknesses of the coaches that got let go today, out of respect to them,” Kekalainen said. “But it was a lot of things that factored in that made us come to this conclusion, and it was absolutely necessary to make these moves.”
Larsen, 45, served as an assistant under John Tortorella for seven seasons before succeeding him as the head coach. At the time that that decision was made, the Jackets chose him over experienced coaches such as Gerard Gallant and Rick Tocchet. They were content with his communication skills and thought his institutional knowledge of the organization.
Larsen at the time said some patience would be needed.
“I’m going to learn more now,” he said at his introductory news conference. “I’m going to make mistakes — I promise you — but that’s part of the process.”
Two years later that process will continue without Larsen. The new coach may covet Connor Bedard, the prospective No. 1 pick in the draft who is considered the most talented generational player since Connor McDavid entered the league in 2015. The Blue Jackets have the second-highest chance, 13.5%, of landing Bedard.
Winning the lottery could quickly change the trajectory of the organization.
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