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Red Ink, Coaching Change Have Impact On Blue Jackets

A fan-based group rallied Thursday afternoon in the Arena District in a bid to force a resolution of financial problems for the Columbus Blue Jackets. The hockey team says it continues to lose money even as a private negotiator works to secure a long-term Columbus future for the team. On the ice, the Blue Jackets will face Dallas Thursday night with a new head coach.

The Columbus Blue Jackets Thursday night take the ice under new interim coach Claude Noel. The mid-season coaching change comes as the Blue Jackets are mired in second to last place in the western conference and facing some red ink in the business office. Still, after Thursday morning's skate, Coach Noel made a promise to fans who turn out for a game against the Dallas Stars.

"It'll be a really fun night," Noel said. "I think the one thing that we're all going to be able to deal with is adversity and some joy in the result."

During practice Noel put players through two-on-twos, two-on-ones and shooting drills in a bid to keep attention focused on hockey. Noel characterized the mood of the team as fragile after a two month slump that has dampened chances at a second consecutive appearance in the Stanley Cup play-offs. Captain Rick Nash says the Blue Jackets have lots of company when it comes to coaching changes.

"You know 18 teams or something like that have switched in the last four years," Nash says. "In today's game, if you're not winning, changes are going to happen."

Left winger Kristian Huselius says the players share some of the blame for former coach Ken Hitchcock's firing.

"So as I said we all feel guilt and now we'll have to keep moving forward and help each other out in this situation and be ready to go," Huselius said.

Huselius says the Blue Jackets can still make a run at the play-offs. But there's little room for more losses.