The Blue Jackets brought in superstar scorer Johnny Gaudreau to fortify themselves for a playoff run. And to be fair, “Johnny Hockey” didn’t have a bad first season in Ohio.
It’s more of a case of him performing with the hand he was dealt. That rang true for most of the Blue Jackets roster in 2022-23. Columbus moving on from Larsen is a move to hopefully deal the team a better hand.
Gaudreau and fellow star winger Patrik Laine are not the only attractive options in Columbus. The team owns the second-best odds in the 2023 NHL Draft Lottery. Winning that lottery nets the team Connor Bedard, a once-in-a-generation talent.
Who will lead the next chapter of Blue Jackets hockey? Here are three candidates Blue Jackets fans should keep their eyes on this offseason.
3. Sergei Fedorov, CSKA Moscow head coach
Wouldn’t this be an interesting hire? The former longtime Detroit Red Wings star once played for Columbus, and now could return as the team’s next head coach.
Fedorov, of course, could have returned to the United States last season. The Red Wings moved on from head coach Jeff Blashill, and their former star was perfect for the role. Instead, they chose to go with Derek Lalonde.
Fedorov currently coaches in his native Russia, and he has found immense success. He initially joined CSKA Moscow as their general manager in 2012-13 but took over as head coach in 2021.
In his first season, he led CSKA to the Gagarin Cup title, overcoming a 3-1 deficit in the final. This season, the longtime Red Wings star has his team back in the final after a slow start to the season.
It’s unclear how interested Fedorov is in a move back to the NHL. However, with one year left on his KHL deal, there is perhaps no better time for the Blue Jackets to try and entice the legendary player to return to Columbus.
2. Bruce Boudreau, former Vancouver Canucks head coach
The Vancouver Canucks made headlines with their highly controversial treatment of veteran coach Bruce Boudreau. Everyone paying even a crumb of attention knew Boudreau was being replaced by Rick Tocchet months before it actually happened.
These days, Boudreau is working as an analyst for NHL Network. However, he still has the desire to coach hockey, even at the young age of 68 years old.
And Boudreau has a history of getting the best out of his teams. He has coached four teams in his long career and has a points percentage higher than .500 with all of them.
Boudreau has won 617 games, and while he is closer to the end of his career than the beginning, he still has something left in the tank. There are a lot of young pieces on the Blue Jackets roster who could benefit from having the veteran bench boss guide them along these next few seasons.
1. Peter Laviolette, former Washington Capitals head coach
Beyond a connection to the franchise or a speculative fit on my behalf, there is merit to Laviolette in Columbus. NHL insider Elliotte Friedman said on his 32 Thoughts podcast that he was told this pairing of coach and team would be “perfect.”
Laviolette, like Boudreau, is a veteran of many years. Unlike Boudreau, however, the former Capitals coach has found success in the playoffs. He has appeared in three Stanley Cup Finals, winning it in 2006 with the Carolina Hurricanes.
Rumors of an impending retirement were shot down by Friedman on Monday. If Laviolette wants to keep going, a move to Columbus may be the best next step in his career.
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