Wednesday, January 5, 2011

On Mike Commodore and the Arniel/Howson CBJ

Quite an anniversary year this 
has turned out to be, eh?
Word has come out that defenseman Mike Commodore has asked team management for a trade from the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Quickly on Commie: Like many CBJ fans, I like what I've seen of the guy.  He appears to be the type of guy you'd love to hang out with and watch sports.  If he and his agent are smart, they'll start angling for him to get television analyst gigs lined up.  He'd be awesome.

Beyond that, he seems like a stand-up guy.  Last season was a crappy one for him, and he seemed to have figured out why...and then, having acknowledged the problem publicly, addressed it as well.  You can't really ask for more from a player or a person.

The larger question is that of the Arniel/Howson Blue Jackets, and what Commie's request for a trade means.  Is the request a damning indictment of the Arniel system?  Of Arniel as a coach?

Sure, I'm biased...but I say no to both of those questions.  Arniel is trying to ice a squad that can win him some games.  For whatever reason, he's decided that Commodore is the worst fit...so Commie sits.  I personally think that Commie's played OK - better than some of his teammates.  But Arniel has forgotten more hockey than I've learned, so I defer.  Arniel also gets huge points in my book for publicly putting the whole team - including the sacred cows - on notice that they need to perform.

As recently as yesterday, I said that the Blue Jackets' blue liners are a bunch of square pegs in round holes.  They largely were signed for a big, burly, Ken Hitchcock defensive system.  Commodore was the poster child for that style of play.  Arniel doesn't want that, and Howson surely hired Arniel knowing that fact.

What surprises me is that Howson hasn't moved more quickly to swap out those ill-fitting defensemen with better systemic fits.  This should have been addressed over the off-season.  Even the most casual hockey fan could see early in the season that the match of defensive personnel and system wasn't happening on this club, and a bright hockey mind like Howson should have foreseen it before the huddled masses.  But it's not just Mike Commodore...one could make an argument that more than half of the team's current blue liners are lousy fits.  A team can handle one, maybe two misfits (skill-wise - I'm not touching the attitude issue) on a depth chart, but four or five?  That's a recipe for disaster.

Thus, I think that this whole situation comes back to the general manager, the guy who (bravely? naively?) suggested that he was ready to roll into this season with the same corps from last season - despite knowing the schematic sea change waiting in the wings.  Maybe he couldn't find a willing trade partner for Commodore and his massive salary, but what of the other ill-fitting defensemen...the ones with the ostensibly tradeable salaries?  Why not move them so that you can paper over the Commodore mis-alignment?

Simply put: How could Scott Howson let it get to this point?

I'm not Scott Howson, so I have no answers.  But I sure hope that someone with media credentials asks the question.

4 comments:

  1. In addition to being a stand up guy Commodore also has a very shout-able name when I'm enjoying a beer and a hockey game. I always liked the way he played so I kinda wish we saw more of him. I guess if I sat around all day watching my team lose I would want to trade, too. :(

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  2. With all due respect, I can't see how any GM could "swap out" their defensive corp in one off-season without a ton of money to blow on Free agents or bad contrcts. Re-builiding an entire defense is not done overnight no matter how sharp you are. Look at Burke's efforts in Toronto. I think Howson is trying the only realistic way he could drafting defensemen and developing them.

    FlaggerX

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  3. FlaggerX -

    I appreciate what you're saying, but even ONE personnel move would have been a step in the right direction. That nothing changed...that's worth questioning.

    (And don't overlook what Steve Yzerman is doing in Tampa. Overhauls CAN be done, if done smartly. It's not perfect down there, but it's a darned sight better than it was before Stevie Y entered the scene.)

    DBJ

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  4. get ride of Scott Howson !! first.

    i agree, no changes after a disaster season!!
    with that saying, a new coach, let it simmer a few games, ,, well is boiling NOW,

    we want Tom Sestito, (and clitson), how does it look? he’s young, BIG, and fits the bill. and partners with BOLL!!! the blues brothers!!
    thoughts?

    yes, Commodore, Strahlman & Heida and MURRY.. good by, bring on the youth!!! and take the “C” of nash, and give it to UMBERGER, the true heart of the team! shake this team up!! take some pressure off nash,, let him RELAX amd play and fly!!!

    thoughts?

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