The Blue Jackets have made it seven days and four games into the 2013 season, and we’ve already seen a rapid-fire set of ups and downs out of the team. So where does this leave the club?
Let’s start with the beginning it’s too early to predict the entire season, but it’s also not useful to view the first two games as overwhelming successes. Even victory versus Nashville came at a glaring Corsi disadvantage for most players (via On the Forecheck). That has continued so far, leaving the Blue Jackets in 29th place (as of this writing) for team Fenwick in this young season. It’s fair to claim that Bobrovsky was outstanding in the first two games, but it’s difficult to say that the rest of the team was a statistical success.
You could successfully argue that these observations are short-sighted and too quick, but I contend that the outcomes shouldn’t be surprising to us. And I think we shouldn’t be shocked either philosophically or statistically. We’ll get to the numbers part in a moment.
First, I think a mantra worth examining is the idea of “Brick by Brick,” a thought popularized following in the wake of John Davidson’s hiring. The phrase is an interesting one and its implications are worth getting behind. But the reality of the metaphor is that building the team “brick by brick” is a long-term goal and we should not be surprised by the ups and downs that will accompany the 2013 season.
Don’t let that come across as negative: the addition of John Davidson to the front office is an exceptional hiring that, over time, should significantly improve the team. But that “over time” thing is the catch. Davidson, for all his St. Louis success, is not a magician. He cannot warp time in order to suddenly overhaul a team in less than one season. Certainly there are no sure things in hockey, but we should be willing to wait when a successful engineer takes the reins.
Now for those numbers: The pieces left for Davidson to mold this year are primarily comprised of a squad that finished near the bottom of the league in 2011-2012 team Fenwick (a team that actually worsened following the trade deadline). The post-season addition of three forwards with positive shot differentials is certainly a step in the right direction, but likely not enough. The addition of a defensive wreck was not a good move. It should come as no surprise that even four-game performance metrics are reflecting this reality. The situation right now is not ideal. Of course, Davidson wouldn’t be necessary if it was ideal.
“Brick by Brick” is a reasonable philosophical bedrock, but it is something that will inherently take time, particularly if it’s to be done right. This “new age” might start here, but the promised land isn’t just an easy walk down the street. I hope we’re willing to wait out the building/rebuilding process. The team should be in a state of flux while new talent is brought in, while draft picks are made, while ineffective players are purged. All these things are necessary to create success.
This year should be an important one for the Blue Jackets, but not necessarily in the win column. Eventually we should see the new construction underway, leading to a positive shift in underlying numbers and future projections. But it will not happen rapidly. It’ll get there, Brick by Brick.