The Columbus Blue Jackets‘ start to the 2015-16 season truly is a puzzling thing to behold.
The team’s president of hockey operations, John Davidson, has another word for it: “Disturbing.”
Davidson pinpoints the time at which the unraveling began, in the dying minutes of a playoff-like battle that saw the visiting New York Rangers score three quick goals to take the 4-2 victory and spoil the Blue Jackets’ season opener at home.
“From that point, it’s been downhill. And very, very disturbing,” Davidson told Prime Time Sports’ Bob McCown on Thursday.
The bumbling Blue Jackets have not been sitting idle — they showed that when they fired head coach Todd Richards on Wednesday, just seven games into the season, and hired John Tortorella as his replacement.
“Our team needs to be pushed. John [Tortorella] will push,” said Davidson. “John’s a very good teacher, there’s no question about that.
Davidson explained that his “homework” on Tortorella — who made his debut with the team Thursday night against the Minnesota Wild — included extensive conversations with many of the long-time coach’s former players.
“It’s astonishing, how many [players] say that he’s the best coach they’ve ever played for,” said Davidson.
“There were also a couple of guys that said they felt John was tough on them when they were playing; but when they retired and looked back, they understand that he’s the best coach they ever played for. There was a lot of that — a ton of that — that went on in our research before we made the change,” he said.
The second-biggest storyline for the club, aside from the change behind the bench, is goaltending — and the curious case of Sergei Bobrovsky and his misplaced confidence.
“It’s perplexing that he’s gotten to this point,” said Davidson.
“Our team has been very porous — there’s no question. But he has allowed questionable goals, and that’s something that’s not in his DNA. It’s not in his character. It’s strange. It’s weird,” Davidson said of Bobrovsky, who he counts as one of the “hardest working goaltenders I’ve ever seen.”
“I feel strongly he’ll get his game back,” he said. “First of all, he’s too good. But second of all, he’s got the work habits and the makeup to get back.”
Davidson also talked about the team’s expectations (and lack thereof, at times), his hopes for Tortorella with the team, and the biggest thing he and his new coach share in common: dogs. (Both are big advocates for rescuing dogs, especially pit bulls.)
But the resounding sentiment from Davidson?
“We’ve got to find our game, and we’ve got to find it in a hurry.”