Blue Jackets fire GM MacLean
The NHL's newest franchise has endured six losing seasons.
COLUMBUS (AP) -- The Columbus Blue Jackets fired president and general manager Doug MacLean after not coming within 19 points of the playoffs in any of the franchise's six seasons.
Team spokesman Todd Sharrock confirmed the firing Thursday after several media reports said MacLean had been let go late Wednesday.
Principal owner John H. McConnell, minority owners and team officials met Wednesday and agreed to dismiss MacLean, the architect of a team that had gone 172-258-62 since joining the league in 2000 and 33-42-7 this past season.
Led by coach Ken Hitchcock, and with name players such as Rick Nash and Sergei Fedorov, the Blue Jackets finished 23 points out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference and had the 24th best record of the league's 30 teams.
Jody Shelley, with the team from its first year, said despite the lack of success by the team he was stunned by the dismissal.
"As a player, I'm really surprised," he said. "You hear the rumors but you just figure it comes with not meeting expectations. Then when the other shoe drops, you're still shocked."
MacLean had two years remaining on a contract that paid him around 1 million per season with incentives.
"I'm unbelievably disappointed about where we are but I think we've got an unbelievable foundation in place," MacLean said after the season. "I'm telling you, I look around the league and how many teams would I trade ours for? Not many."
MacLean was McConnell's first hire when Columbus secured the franchise. He supervised all the drafts and trades, some that were overwhelming successes and others that were abysmal failures.
MacLean even dumped the team's first head coach, Dave King, and took over behind the bench.
But the Blue Jackets did not respond, going just 9-21-4-3 at the start of the 2003-04 season under MacLean, who stepped aside and elevated assistant coach Gerard Gallant to take over.
Gallant was fired and replaced by Hitchcock early this past season after Columbus won just six of its first 24 games.
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