Monday, December 7, 2009

Trouble between the pipes

Of all the articles that have been published about the Columbus Blue Jackets, this was one that I did not expect. Not in the least.

CBJ goaltending coach Dave Rook went on the record with's Scott Burnside (By the way, who knew ESPN was even trying to stay relevant in hockey?) and dropped a couple bombs about his prodigy, goaltender Steve Mason.  He said that "Basically, he had trouble handling the success he had last year. ... Maybe it's not as easy as he thought it was." Rook then went on to say that Mason's still learning on the job and that "He needs to make sure 'he doesn't forget where he is and how much of a privilege it is to be [in the NHL].'"  There's more, but you get the drift.

My thought?  Dang.  This is Mase's hand-picked coach?  I'd hate to see what some coach who he doesn't like has to say.

More seriously, the comments from Rook lead me to think that either of two things is happening (I hope not both at the same time) - neither particularly positive for Jackets fans:

1. Fallout for Mason's poor performance thus far this season is landing on Rook's shoulders, and Rook is covering his rear in the media.  This would be akin to, "If I'm going down, I'm not going down alone."

2. Mason really does have an outsized impression of himself and his abilities.  One would think that a 3.44 GAA and an .886 save percentage would keep him grounded, so holding this attitude despite the facts of the matter make me run for the maalox.  That Rook is taking the media approach in this scenario means that Mason is tuning Rook out at some fundamental level, and Rook is using Burnside to speak to him.  Other approaches could include benching and/or sending Mason to Syracuse for some "conditioning" (you know how those back spasms get), but Rook apparently took the tactic of calling Mason out in public - a little shock value, I suppose.

It's possible that both could be the case.  Let's hope that Mason and Rook can get back on the same page real soon; the CBJ's season might hang in the balance.  Of course, it could all be for naught if Ken Hitchcock can't get the defense in one should be expected to hold up under that pounding.

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