Monday, February 14, 2011

The Big CBJ Question

As I mull over the incredible start, gut-wrenching tailspin and heroic recovery of the 2010-2011 Columbus Blue Jackets, I keep coming back to the same question:

Was the 2009-2010 season a one-year interruption in CBJ general manager Scott Howson's (re)building plan, or was it a demonstration that the pieces in said plan can't get the CBJ to the promised land?

Somehow, I think that Howson is wrestling with that very question in the run-up to the 2011 trade deadline.  (And the latest on-ice run isn't making it any easier to figure out the answer!)

I don't have an answer right now.  What do you think?


  1. When the team is playing well, the youngsters Mason, Voracek, Brassard become "untouchable" in the trade potential.

    Howson's, and the organization's obstacle the past couple years has been the big contracts in place (Juice, Commie, Pahlsson). Until these contracts are lapsed, there is little room to make trades, or sign free-agents.

    Unfortunately a couple years ago, the CBJ had to over-pay as Columbus was not a destination place for free-agents.

    I think we have to be patient and let the calendar be on our side for the big contracts to expire, and let the youth develop (Moore, Savard, Johansen, Filatov, Kubalik).

    We are a budget team, and the only affordable players are youngsters in the organ-I-zation.

  2. Hey DBJ -
    I am going to say it is the one year interruption (x2 unfortunately) for this reason: youth. I go back to, as I think I have before in this space, a comment by Hitch in December of the 2009-10 season. His comment was something to the effect of: when these guys learn to hate losing more than anything, then they are going to win consistently. They obviously never learned that lesson last year, costing Hitch his job. The groove meister Noel allowed them to feel good about themselves, and then Scott Arniel has had to come along an re-institute the toughness that Hitch was preaching.

    So its about the team really learning to win, and learning to be mentally tough in adversity, which Arniel has had to beat into them.

    I agree alot with Anon's comments above, and would add that the last playoff run was the run of the free agents. We brought in Hejda, Juice, Commodore, Williams to supplement our old guard, had some rookies pop good seasons, and we are in.

    This playoff run is being generated by the core group. One reason for Howson to be rather inactive at the deadline is the amount of faith he has shown in this core group, which is starting to pan out. So contrasting to the run where we brought in outside help, this playoff run has been generated from within, and it is a solid sign of long term health for the organ -I-zation. They are learning and gaining experience on a playoff chase all on their own, and our team is so young they are finally learning this is what it is all about.

    Last year people were pointing to other rookie laden teams (Colorado, St. Louis) and saying 'see they can win with young guys'. Now they seem to be going through the same things we went through last year. But our young core has matured, and has relatively young veteran leadership now. Suddenly playing like a very solid group.

    If Stralman can keep up the level of play he has shown, there is no real reason to make a move. But it is also looking like we could be 'one' player away, and certainly would be worth dealing some draft picks to get it. But I think we should hang on to this group, and see what they can do. The chemistry is there. Don't disrupt it.

  3. I think it was an interruption. We were counting on a bunch of kids, Brass was really a rookie, so was Filatov and Jake, Russell way young and Stralman a rookie with mono. We had too many parts trying to learn to play the NHL game and sophomore slumps were to be expected, particularly with Mason having been rushed into the league-- something the Jackets had little choice in.

    Frankly, when you look at the farm and seee Johansen and all the defensive prospects, the future looks really bright. Seeing the difference Calvert and Clitsome alone have made, plus Mase getting him game back you see what this team can do as it sits.


  4. I tend to see a lot of what Gallo is saying: I told someone this morning that to me this team looks like it will be "good" next season and "dangerous" in the spring of 2013. Is it worth it to mortgage any part of that for the right to get run by Vancouver or Detroit in round 1? I don't think so.

    I honestly think letting this team make a push--whether they make it or not--will be very, VERY valuable for next season. Yeah, December might have cost them this year; but it also might have benefited them more than we can know for next season and beyond.

    Unless there's a no-brainer move (I think both big moves in 2009 were "no brainers") I think Howson will--and probably should--stand pat. If they make the playoffs, it will be vindication for him. But, I also think it will show how important a hire Scott Arniel was. Makes me wonder if Boucher saying no might not have been the best thing to happen to this franchise in awhile.


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