It's been a while now since Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson introduced his two prime acquisitions of the 2011 offseason, Jeff Carter and James Wisniewski, and I've been mulling this over in my mind (largely because CBJ-land has been so quiet since!). Before I jump in too far, permit me to reacquaint you with the event:
Now read what HockeyBuzz's Eric Smith had to say about the juxtaposition of the two:
Carter is 6-foot-3 and a slender build at around 200 pounds and looks like a golden Labrador where you know he's athletic and is graceful but also he's thinking and analyzing the situation all the time.You can read more of Smith's perceptions in the piece, which I enjoyed, but that's where it hit me. I think I have more of an affinity for defensemen than forwards.
Wisniewski on the other hand is listed at 5-foot-11 and 210 pounds and the look of a pit-bull. Still athletic but will growl and bite you and ask questions later.
Looks can be deceiving but with these two, the look seems to fit their personalities too.
Let's be clear here, though. There are plenty of kinds of defensemen. Some, like Washington's Mike Green, appear to be more along the lines of a recovering winger than a true defenseman. Others are exclusively "puck movers," more inclined to look for the breakout pass or sprint with the puck to set up the offense.
Me? I like my defensemen stout. I like them with a snarl. I like defensemen who have the attitude that screams, "None shall pass." Maybe it's a lingering affinity for Hitch-hockey, maybe not. But who cares? I like my defensemen with a dash of spit and vinegar.
I liked Mike Commodore in his time on the ice in Columbus. When Commie was on the ice, he had that demeanor. He might be a great conversation off the ice, but on the ice...well, none shall pass. He would push, plug, swipe, whatever it took. You could see that it pained him when he let someone by him - there's some professional pride for you - and it hurt worse when someone scored on him. No better way to make up for it than with a well-placed hip-check...
In the same vein, I like Fedor Tyutin. (Of course, anyone who's been reading this blog for a while knows that I like Tyutin.) He's another robust blue liner, one who's slowly discovering his offensive side but needs no help clogging lanes and crushing the opposition to the boards. Or maybe the open-ice cobweb-clearer...
So here's my thing with Wisniewski: I haven't watched him play much and readily admit that I need to do more. But watch a clip compilation like this and tell me that his play isn't oozing with that "none shall pass" attitude:
Wiz isn't the biggest defenseman in the world - no towering tree like a Zdeno Chara - but Smith called it when he labelled Wiz a pit bull. I'm thinking he was onto something...a pit bull with a bit of a snarl.
But it gets better. Wisniewski apparently has a killer shot from the point, something that also is badly needed in Columbus. As proof, I'll offer this clip package:
Pit bull attitude and a shot. That's a lethal combination. I think I'm now finally starting to see the player for whom Scott Howson opened up the proverbial McConnell wallet.
These are only impressions. I'll probably try to catch a game or two of his before the season starts, but the real proof of my hunches will come on the ice this fall. I've got a good feeling about Wiz based off his presentation in the presser and the few clips that I've seen, and boy do the CBJ need what he apparently has to offer.
If he delivers, I may have to break down and get some CBJ swag with a player's name/number on it...James Wisniewski's.