Apparently, I made my entry about an hour early last night. (Stupid Preds/Sharks game had to start at 10!)
So, Doug didn't make it to season 7 as the Jackets GM. Part of me is happy, part is let down. First, the let down part...
Doug did a lot for hockey in general in Columbus. He oversaw the final stages of the arena and was present before ice was frozen at the Easton Chiller. He was around when three more sheets were added at the Ice Haus and Chiller North. He was instrumental in getting the USHL in Columbus, even though the jury is still out on that one. Youth hockey has exploded with all the extra ice in town, and so have the adult ranks. No, Doug didn't single handedly build the rinks or force people into them, but he was the face of the NHL franchise that was spurring the growth. If there was something involving hockey in Columbus, it was more likely that you saw Doug involved than not involved.
Now for the happy part...at the NHL level, it's time for Columbus to move on. The panic-and-patch approach to the Jackets' roster isn't working. Rushing kids to the NHL, not working. Brule should have been stewing over not making the NHL and tearing up the WHL with a, "I'll show that MacLean he screwed up by leaving me down here!" Rusty could have used a little more time in Brampton and probably Syracuse. Nash...well, Nash might have been the right decision.
But, hindsight is 20/20. At the time, both Rusty and Brule appeared ready to roll in the NHL, but that was probably a combination of optimism and fan desire on my part, and having no other options on Doug's part.
My personal opinion is that the day Doug announced he was going to take over the head coaching job full time was the beginning of the end. At the point, he cemented himself as the one and only voice in all decisions from the front office to the front of the net for the Jackets. Once he had that power, he wasn't going to relinquish it to just anyone, so enter Gerard Gallant. Turk did his best, but like Brule and Rusty, he wasn't ready for the NHL. The owners of the Jackets force Doug's hand into Hitchcock, and it all spun out of control for Doug right up to last night when the other shoe finally fell.
So, a big thank you to all that Doug did in building Columbus and central Ohio into a solid hockey market.
But, here's to the excitement of what tomorrow might bring in Jacketland.