COLUMBUS Sluggish Jackets fire King



The once-promising team has slipped to the bottom of the Western Conference.
COLUMBUS (AP) -- Doug MacLean has taken a greater role in determining the future of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The team's president and general manager added interim coach to his title Tuesday after he fired coach Dave King.
Now, MacLean has a chance to evaluate the Blue Jackets' talent up close -- from behind the bench rather than a luxury suite.
"There should be no misconception who the boss is," he said.
After acquiring a young scoring threat in Rick Nash and signing three seasoned veterans -- defensemen Scott Lachance and Luke Richardson and center Andrew Cassels -- MacLean thought the playoffs were possible.
Instead, the Blue Jackets (14-20-4-2) have slipped to the bottom of the Western Conference with 34 points.
"I was frustrated by the inconsistencies, good stretches, bad stretches and tremendous letdowns at times," MacLean said.
Poor play
Players took the blame for the decision to dismiss King, 55, who was in the final year of a three-year contract.
"He taught us everything. We just didn't get the job done for him," forward Jody Shelley said. "It's a business, and we've got to win to keep people's jobs."
MacLean will coach his first game against the Minnesota Wild tonight, the start of a four-game, six-night road trip.
MacLean, 48, said he'll make minor changes to the style of play and player shifts during games.
Players will have to adapt to a coach with a different personality. MacLean is demonstrative; King is stoic.
"That's what he's probably looking for, a different style," said King, who was usually laid back with his young team -- even during slumps.
"I don't think this is a situation that can take a guy who's going to be relentless and pounding [the players] about their performance," said King, who went 64-106-21-13 as the franchise's only head coach.
"I tried to be demanding but fair."
Slump
After finishing with 71 points as an expansion team in 2000-01, Columbus stumbled to 57 points last season, fewest in the Western Conference.
The Blue Jackets have lost six of their last nine games, including 5-1 to Nashville on Monday night. Hours later, MacLean and owner John McConnell decided to fire King.
"Dave was certainly preaching the right things. There just wasn't a consistent performance," MacLean said. "I was extremely patient the last 21/2 years."

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