Commentary

No. 116: Columbus Blue Jackets

Ultimate Standings 2012

Updated: September 7, 2012, 11:27 AM ET
By Eddie Matz | ESPN The Magazine

Last year's rank: 87 Title track: 122 Ownership: 115 Coaching: 120 Players: 122 Fan relations: 106 Affordability: 121 Stadium experience: 58 Bang for the buck: 95

When it comes to the Blue Jackets, the operative word is "blue," as in the way Columbus fans are feeling. The Jackets finished dead last in both title track and players, making them one of only two franchises to earn multiple 122s in this year's rankings (the Maple Leafs are the other), following a season in which they posted the lowest point total in the NHL and finished last in their division for a third straight season. As if that weren't bad enough, the team that won the Central (St. Louis) did so under the guidance of Jack Adams Award winner Ken Hitchcock, whom Jackets brass fired two years ago, then curiously allowed the division-rival Blues to talk to and ultimately hire. But wait, it gets worse: GM Scott Howson passed on former Jackets winger Kevin Dineen, who went on to lead the Panthers to a first-place finish in his rookie coaching season, in favor of underqualified Scott Arniel, who ended up getting pink-slipped in January. No wonder the Blue Jackets received a 115 in the ownership category, one of six triple-digit grades doled out by angry Columbus fans. (In case you're wondering, the operative word there is "angry.")