Ken Hitchcock was an interesting guy. You could learn a lot listening to him. On thing I remember him saying once, it must have been in the 2009-10 season before he was fired. He talked about two of his teams; the 2006-07 team that he inherited, and the 2008-09 team that made the playoffs. And I remember him saying, rather fondly, that those teams had 'maxed out'. In other words, the players had given all they had to give. And I always felt that Hitch had a lot of respect for those teams.
Scott Arniel is a pretty different coach than Hitch. Ya think?! But his comments as recorded in the Columbus Dispatch beat writers Puck Rakers column intrigued me. He was quoted as saying:
Arniel said he's not focused on what others believe the Brassard injury does to the Jackets' playoff chances.
"As much as I appreciate the fans' support I don't care what anyone thinks outside of the room," Arniel said. "I don't care what the media says, I don't care what people are speculating. All I care about is what's going on inside that room and keeping that belief that we can get in position at the end of the season to compete for the Stanley Cup. We've done a good job of keeping distractions away from us. Everyone has injuries, look around the league."
I sure hope the players in the room are ready for this. Because I think Scott Arniel has every intention of ensuring that this team 'maxes out'. Personally, I think the players ARE ready for it, and are embracing what he is preaching.
A team that maxes out, achieves what it is possible for it to achieve. There are frustrations for the fans, because sometimes that doesn't come out the way we want it to end. That is because their team is not perfect. But when everything is said and done, its really fun hockey to watch. Maxing out will sell in this town. NOT maxing out (see 2009-10) does not sell in this town.
I think this team is intent on leaving it all out on the ice. I think they are embracing the playoff race, and the challenge of it, and I think they are starting to show a pretty good track record of rising to challenges. As a season ticket holder, I am really OK with this, and look forward to a fun stretch drive with lots of good hockey. Grab your hats folks, its time for a ride!