As the Blue Jackets players, management and staff all part ways for the offseason, there will be a lot of time spent thinking about the missed opportunity that was the 2015-16 season.
Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen has urged everyone involved with the organization to start their evaluation and analysis from within.
“I’m going to take a good look in the mirror. I’ve asked all the players to do that, I’ve asked all the staff to do that,” Kekalainen said. “We’ll start the analysis from the mirror and go from there on, and we’ll be stronger next year for sure.”
Alternate captain Brandon Dubinsky said he was happy with certain aspects of his own performance this season, but added that it doesn’t matter when the team as a whole isn’t playing well.
“I was happy with a lot of parts of my year this year individually, but all that stuff doesn’t really matter when the team struggles,” Dubinsky said. “It makes it tough to come to the rink every day and play when things aren’t going well.”
Dubinsky was one of the most outspoken players on the Blue Jackets roster this season, and demanded excellence from not only himself but from his teammates as well. But that doesn't mean that he won't be taking a hard look in the mirror himself.
“I think everyone’s just gotta take a good hard look in the mirror this summer about their own game and where it was and where it needs to be and I think if we do that we’ll be alright,” Dubinsky said. “I think we have a lot of good players. We just didn’t play to our potential.”
Defenseman Dalton Prout said the team not playing to their full potential all comes down to lack of accountability, both individually and as a group, this season.
“When the job doesn’t get done, you have to have some self-accountability first,” Prout said. “Everybody from myself, the goalies, the forwards, the leadership, everybody looks in the mirror and it wasn’t good enough this year.
“So we’re gonna individually change little things whether it’s being more professional, holding each other more accountable, putting in a little bit more work in the offseason, whatever it is— everybody’s gotta change a little bit about themselves.”
One of the things that needs to change before the Blue Jackets can be successful is holding a higher standard in the locker room, according to forward Matt Calvert.
“I think we gotta hold each other to a higher standard, and have a lot more accountability in that room,” Calvert said. “I think everyone is learning and will learn from this year. We know the feeling of being out of it with a few months left to play and it’s not a fun feeling. You find it tough to get up to play. We’re gonna have to find some answers over the summer.”
Columbus drafted Calvert 127th overall in the 2008 NHL Draft. In six years spent with the team, he’s played in six Stanley Cup Playoff games, a statistic he said he is not happy about.
“That’s something I’m disappointed with, and I think you gotta look yourself in the mirror too,” Calvert said. “It’s something we’re all gonna have to do this summer. I gotta find a way to be better and I think if we can all do that, we might get this team to the next level.”
At the helm of the team, Blue Jackets bench boss John Tortorella said that the team is comprised of some great players, but added that it will be his job to transform the group into a successful team moving forward.
“There are some good pieces here,” Tortorella said. “It is my job to mold those pieces into a structured team concept. I did not do a good enough job. I thought we showed signs of it, but we did not do a good enough job and that falls on me. That’s a huge part of winning is playing under a strong team concept.
“I’ve got to look at myself as we go through these months to do a better job.”