If you've ever been curious about what it's like when a never-proud franchise writes to its fans, today is your lucky day. John P. McConnell, owner of the Columbus Blue Jackets, used his spare time (thanks to the All-Star Break) to contact Columbus fans, offering a State of the Team of sorts. McConnell just wanted fans to know that even though the Blue Jackets season began "terribly" and continues just as terribly—with a league worst 13 wins and 32 points—the team continues to fight to right the wrongs and build a consistent winner that "competes" for a Stanley Cup year in, year out.
What follows is Mr. McConnell's attempt to explain all that the franchise is doing to achieve those ends. But, don't look for many details, he has to take care to prevent putting the team at a "competitive disadvantage."
January 27, 2012
Dear Blue Jackets Fan,
My father held a longstanding belief that a major league sports franchise would prove an important catalyst in the growth and development of Columbus. After more than 30 years of effort, the opportunity to make his belief reality presented itself with the NHL awarding a franchise to Columbus in 1997. To my mind, it is clear he was right in his vision. With the Blue Jackets and the Arena as the anchor, Nationwide Insurance has brought vibrancy to our downtown in the Arena District that simply wouldn't have happened without the team.
That said, there is no question our on-ice performance is nowhere near what it needs to be. All of you are disappointed and many are angry. I and the entire Blue Jackets organization share these feelings. I thought as we approached mid-season at the All-Star break, it would be a good time to reflect on where we've been and offer some thoughts about how we go forward. We have taken actions and will continue our push to improve.
Toward the end of last season, we did a thorough evaluation of our team's strengths and weaknesses. From there, a plan was developed balancing our needs against our tradable assets. During the summer, we believed we executed the plan well and took a good step forward. Most people seemed to agree and we were excited for the season to start.
Unfortunately and surprisingly, we opened the season terribly and have struggled ever since. Disappointing is not a strong enough word.
We began looking at why our team was not performing at an acceptable level very early this season and assessing where we are and where we want to go. We added Craig Patrick, an experienced and highly respected figure in the hockey community, as a senior advisor to assist in this endeavor. While this process is not complete, we have clearly defined our options and are finalizing our plans.
I understand you want to know what we're going to do to fix this, but it is important for us to maintain a degree of discretion to prevent putting ourselves at a competitive disadvantage. I can tell you action will be taken in the coming weeks and months, be it around the trade deadline, the entry draft and/or free agency that will be indicative of our direction.
Our goal as an organization is to build a team that wins consistently and competes for the Stanley Cup. Anything less is unacceptable! Everything we do in the coming weeks, months and years will be done to that end and everyone in our organization – myself, management, staff, coaches and players – will be held to that standard.
I am very thankful and appreciative of the dedication and passion you have shown as a Blue Jackets fan and I am committed to giving you a team of which you can be proud.
John P. McConnell