The Columbus Blue Jackets have changed their president of hockey operations, their head coach and now will be promoting several former players to new roles. The team announced today that Rick Nash has been promoted to director of player development, Josef Boumedienne has been promoted to head of pro scouting, while Derek Dorsett and Mark Letestu have joined the organization as development coaches. Brad Thiessen has replaced Jim Corsi as goaltending development coach, while Nelson Ayotte, the former director of high performance, has retired.
Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen released a statement on the changes:
We are always looking to strengthen our hockey operations group and these moves do just that, particularly in the area of player development. In Rick, Derek, Mark and Brad, we have four former players with a combined 34 years of experience in the NHL and 17 in the AHL, as well as having played major junior and college, so they will be able to share a wealth of knowledge and experience with prospects throughout our organization. They are also passionate about the Blue Jackets, our city and what we are building here.
Nash, 37, is one of the most decorated players in franchise history and still comes to mind when you think of the Blue Jackets. Though he ended his playing career with stints in New York and Boston, it is Columbus where he forged his name as an NHL superstar. Selected first overall by the team in 2002, Nash would record his first 40-goal season in 2003-04, winning the Rocket Richard trophy in his sophomore year. He would score at least 27 goals in each of the seven seasons that followed and currently sits as the franchise leader in games played, goals, assists, points, shots, and several other categories. He rejoined the organization as a special assistant to the GM in 2019 after his playing career ended and now that he has learned the front office side, will take on a larger role.
Dorsett and Letestu also have ties to the organization from their playing days. The former started his NHL career in Columbus after working his way up from the seventh round as an enforcer but turned into a quality bottom-six option for the Blue Jackets. In 2011-12 he recorded 12 goals and 20 points while also leading the league in penalty minutes with 235. Letestu meanwhile spent the middle portion of his playing career in Columbus, recording 102 points over parts of six seasons. The undrafted center has long been lauded as one of the hardest-working players in professional hockey and will now be able to impart some of that experience to the Blue Jackets’ young talent.