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04-10-2012, 11:11 AM
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I find the Hitch revisionism amusing.

Listen, I'm happy Hitch is doing well in St. Louis. But to pretend that if we had stayed the course with him here that things would have turned around is a fantasy. For whatever reason, the team, a team that was less than a year removed from the playoffs, could not buy a win.

Is it likely that Howson was a part of the problem? That Howson's player selection didn't complement Hitch's style? Sure, that argument can be made and I'll even buy it to a certain point (and acknowledged as much at the time).

However, it has also been mentioned extensively this year in coverage of Hitchcock that he grew and adjusted from the experience here in Columbus. Would he have done the soul searching and made the changes had he been retained? There's no guaranty of that. I know from my own experiences that sometimes it is a setback or failure that helps us realize something crucial that we wouldn't have learned otherwise. I'd argue that losing the job in Columbus ultimately was a valuable learning experience for Hitchcock which resulted in him re-evaluating the way he operated. And when Hitch was fired, I actually hoped as much for him--it was never personal, but it was fairly clear things weren't working.

Firing Howson and retaining Hitchcock was not a good option even if Howson was the preponderance of the problem. Because then you venirate your coach above your GM. Putting the next GM in a bind if he had found that Hitchcock wasn't performing and needed to be removed.

This has been my problem with how this franchise has operated going back to the Maclean days--things are often done backwards--ex. hiring a permanent coach in Ken Hitchcock while the lame duck GM was still in place. In the case of the 2009-10 season, the Jackets actually did do things the right way by firing Hitchcock instead of Howson. But, given the concerns about Howson himself, it was also right to put him on a short leash. He got the opportunity to select his own coach to prove that Hitchcock was the sole reason for the team's underperformance in 2009-10...and the result was nearly identical. At that point, you can conclusively say that Ken Hitchcock wasn't the only problem and as GM Howson deserves a substantial heaping of the blame but that does not mean Hitchcock didn't contribute to the problems.

If I were operating on mere bloodlust, I'd have asked for Howson and Hitchcock to both be removed in 2009-10. I didn't out of equity to Howson who was put in the situation of being stuck with a coach and system that he didn't necessarily choose to build his franchise around, but who was in place when he arrived because the franchise had made the mistake of hiring a coach before a GM. He had an opportunity to hand pick a coach and system and that experiment was a disaster.

We're again about to pick a permanent coach. That coach will no doubt want a standard 3 year contract. Are we really comfortable enough with this GM that we are willing to let him hand pick a coach, or are we again inviting the possibility that this is a short-term GM and the next GM will be stuck with the coach and system selected by his predecessor?

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