Maybe the Columbus Blue Jackets always planned to fire Todd Richards. It wasn't a matter of if, but when the Jackets would make the move to send him packing and bring in John Tortorella.
That still makes Columbus stupid, but perhaps for a different reason. If this firing is about the past seven games the Blue Jackets played rather than the previous 70, well, you jumped the cannon, friends.
Yes, the Blue Jackets are winless this season through seven games. They are also supremely unlucky.
Look at the bottom of the chart to find Columbus, a team bereft of fortune despite playing pretty decent hockey to start the season. The Blue Jackets possess the league's lowest PDO (89.4 in all situations), primarily because their goaltending sucks.
Columbus finished bottom six in the NHL in corsi-for percentage last year, but find themselves in the top 10 this year with a much improved roster. Why fire Richards after what appears to be a pretty promising start in the underlying numbers? The score-adjusted numbers are much uglier (49.7 corsi-for percentage) but further reducing an already small sample size taints those numbers a bit.
Similar rumors, whether reputable or not, swirled around regarding Anaheim Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau's future as his team was mired in a scoring slump to start the season. Anaheim (unfortunately) played well to start the season, they just weren't getting the puck luck they needed to win games. Still, Boudreau found himself on the hot seat — at least, on cable television and the Internet — because of something outside his (or his player's) control.
Still, the Blue Jackets didn't just fire Richards. A coaching change is judged on two factors: Who was fired and who was hired. Right, Columbus just hired a terrible NHL head coach in Tortorella. Let's take a walk down memory lane to when Torts took over the Vancouver Canucks.
In 2011-12, the Canucks CF% was 53.6 in score-adjusted even strength situations. That number dipped a bit during the lockout season (52 percent) and took an even more precipitous drop when Tortorella was hired in 2013-14 (50.9). The Canucks goal differential went from +26 to -3 over the course of those two seasons and Torts was canned, though most likely because he's not exactly a pleasure to work with.
"I think you mature along the way," said the 56-year-old man who tried to fight an entire hockey team as a 55-year-old man. Right.
If the Jackets intended to fire Richards all along, they should've done it during the offseason to get a better coach. Hell, even if they wanted to get Tortorella — it's not like Torts was doing anything this summer. Instead, Columbus fired Richards in the midst of a luck-driven slump and hired a coach who will do more to poison the locker room than he'll improve play on the ice.
Good luck with that!