Sunday, April 3, 2011

Detroit's Rule Book, Jake & Brass, Nash money for Richards?

Puck Rakers are reporting that Jan Hedja has been suspended for two games for the elbowing minor he took in the Chicago game.  Further, recently the NHL declined to add further discipline by on this hit by Todd Bertuzzi, conveniently shown on Puck Daddy, even though he was ejected from the game.  This is just further proof that there is a Detroit Redwings rule book and a 'rest of the NHL, particularly the Blue Jackets' rule book.  Click here to add your critical 'you're just whining because you are out of the playoffs' comment.

A good example of this is well before the lock out.  I was at a CBJ v Detroit game back when Sergei Federov was still a Redwing.  Sergei took a penalty he didn't like, and whacked the puck clear across the rink, I mean from near the bench to the penalty boxes, and the refs darn near had to drag him to the box, but no 'delay' or 'unsportsmanlike' penalty for the mighty Federov.  Double D (Derek Dorsett) smacks a puck off the near board and goes to the box, and he gets hit with the 'T'.  Double D ought to know better.  But that's a penalty in the rule book that applies to us, not the one that applies to Detroit.

And I was watching a Redwings v Chicago game about a week ago, and sure enough, what passes for hooking, holding, and interference in the rest of the league is 'just a hockey play' at the Joe. 

The point to all of this is not that we need to be as good as the other teams to compete in this league, we need to be better.

Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch wrote an article today about the progress Jake and Brass have shown this year.  I've been wanting to write something on this for a while, but Porty beat me to the punch.  The point I want to make is that Brass and Jake have now toured the NHL, and played against everyone's top defensive matchup.  There are players who seem to take that in stride, Nash, Crosby, Ovechkin (and I would point out that these tend to be those 'number 1 overall' picks, the elite talent of their class), that don't seem to struggle with this.  Jake and Brass are high first round picks (7th and 6th overall respectively) and should be able to do this with time.  But it should not be expected immediately.

Keep in mind that Jake and Brass were elevated from the second line to the top line, and the performance expectations were elevated at the same time.  In other words, we are going to expose you to the top defenders in the NHL, and you need to be better than you were last year.  This is a pretty unrealistic expectation.

But now they know.  They know what it means to be in a playoff hunt, where the responsibility for performance is yours, not some other guy's.  They take this experience into the off season, and should be better for it next year.  I think Howson should be able to get Jake back on a fairly workable contract.  Jake and Brass deserve another kick at the can before we start judging where they are going in their careers.

Carry the Flag in a recent article (which I can't link to, as the their web domain has changed, sorry) talked about signing Brad Richards for 'Nash like money' for 3 to 4 years.  With Richards age, I'd rather do that for a 2 year contract.  But the notion of Richards lining up next to Nash is pretty compelling.  My buddy Bill has said that the CBJ will never really be good until Nash is the second best player on the team.  He's probably right. 

Anyone got any comments on the notion of signing Brad Richards to 'Nash like money'?  It would be interesting to hear your thoughts.

6 comments:

  1. I think the time is right for the CBJ owners to start putting money into the team. Sign Richards for two or three years to get Nash the Center he needs to shine. Keep Jake and Brass because they are not first liners ...yet, IMO. Also, with the young talent, Atkinson, Kubahlik, Savard, in the stables, in one or two years we have them at entry level contracts. Put money into the team....I have for the past ten years for season tickets. The team, the fans and the City wants this team to win.

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  2. Sign a true #1 goalie. Mason is not yet consistent enough to hold that job, so don't ask him too. I'd like Richards too, but upgrading our performance in goal would make a bigger difference.

    FlaggerX

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  3. Dark Blue JacketApril 4, 2011 at 9:18 AM

    Gallos - Good stuff. My thoughts:

    1. The Red Wings rulebook - Is it just me or do all the good (or recently good) teams have such a deal? I'm not sure it's by design, but it's sure a subconscious thing in the refs' minds. The good teams get the calls.

    That was pretty much proven over the course of the year when Arniel et al started yapping to the media about how Rick Nash doesn't get any calls...and then, stunningly, touching Nash was a guaranteed trip to the sin bin.

    The NHL, from a refereeing point of view, is a reputation league. Not quite as bad as the NBA, but it could be a lot more equitable in the distribution of whistles. And this is yet another place where 9 years of stink (plus one year of "not bad!") comes back to haunt the CBJ. The team won't get any help pulling itself out of this mess. As a wise man once said, "Power is never given, it is only taken." The Jackets need to take in this case.

    2. Brass and Jake are so totally different in my mind. Brass has shown meaningful improvement in his game. Jake...I'm sure he has, but it's at a much slower pace than Brass. Jake did himself no favors for his upcoming contract negotiation with this season's performance...he has the raw tools to be a destroyer of worlds out there, but he's not showing it. (Not saying Brass is worth $3MM/year either, but I still think there's a glimmer of hope on that one.)

    3. Nash. Look, I really, really don't like the economics of superstar contracts in a salary cap league like the NHL. And to suggest that Howson ties up another $7+MM in another player just makes my skin crawl. However, I'm wise enough to know what I don't know...and if signing Richards or some other mega-contract player is what Howson deems necessary to put the CBJ over the top, then so be it.

    Any great player would likely be even greater with a similar quality player flanking (or feeding) them. I'm not saying that Nash couldn't use a world-class center, nor am I saying that a world-class center wouldn't benefit from having Nash on the wing. I'm just wondering, "Where's the money going to come from?" The blue line? The goalies? The bottom six forwards? The (gulp) bottom nine forwards?

    It'll be interesting to see this one play out.

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  4. I seriously wonder what big name free agents like Brad Richards think of Columbus... that is to say... what is the appeal of playing here? IE. in Florida, you've at least got "Florida" there while playing on a shitty team...

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  5. I daresay the answer, at least a few years ago, is reflected in the outsized contracts needed to attract Kristian Huselius and Mike Commodore to Columbus. Had the CBJ continued their playoff-worthy trajectory (Remember how Howson picked up Garon immediately following the playoff run?), Columbus may have been looked at as a destination to (from a livability point of view, at least) challenge Detroit, Pittsburgh or Buffalo. But the last couple of years make me think that the playoff mojo is gone and will need to be rebuilt.

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  6. I'd LOVE to see a superstar-level center like Brad Richards lined up beside Nash. I also tend to think we only should sign him for 2ish years. By then, I'd hope we could lean on Brass and Johansen as our top 2 centers, with guys like Vermie and Paulson/Mackenzie acting as pivots for the 3rd and 4th line (transforming the 3rd line to a gritty scoring line, and the 4th as the pure shutdown line).

    My problem with paying another player Nash money is that we need to dump a lot of cash into the blueline to make it less terrible. I know we have some depth at D in Springfield, but I don't know that many of them are NHL ready. Sad to say, but Moore didn't really impress when he got his NHL sniff.

    So, can we really stack the blueline with some decent defenders AND pay top dollar for a superstar center?

    I don't think we need to dump a lot of cash on a goalie. It's been proven time and again that your goaltending can be 'ok' if your defence is solid. On the other hand, you could go heavy into goaltending and pay someone like Bryz a ton of cash and skimp on the D. Does anyone think that's viable? (I don't).

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