Sunday, December 11, 2011

DBJ's incomplete recap of Saturday's Morning Skate

For whatever reason, the Columbus Blue Jackets invited partial season ticket holders to Saturday morning's skate and Q&A session.  That expanded invite list included me, so I gratefully accepted...and dragged along Joe from The Cannon Report.  And had I been able to type faster and avoid all of my family obligations, I might have actually put this on the blog before the Boston game.  But I didn't, so we're all left to wonder what could have been.

The morning included four components: 1) Tim Horton's coffee and hot chocolate on the house, 2) The morning pre-game practice, 3) A brief session with Fox Sports announcer Jeff Rimer interviewing NESN's Bruins play-y-play man, Jack Edwards and 4) A Rimer-moderated Q&A with Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson.

In fairness to all concerned, I know that The Gold Standard for recaps of this nature is Matt Wagner over at The Cannon.  Understand this about Matt: He has a mind like a steel trap.  He can recall chapter and verse of everything done on the ice in a given game, or every question and answer offered in a session like Saturday morning's.  I tell you that to tell you this: I am not Matt.  What you will get from me is infinitely less complete.  But I try.  That, and Joe took good notes that he posted on I'll be cribbing off of him.
1) Tim Horton's coffee and hot chocolate

A nice gesture by the CBJ for the fans.  The kids (and there were quite a few) enjoyed the hot chocolate.  The coffee, however, was out by the time I got there just after 10.  Luckily, it was refilled during the practice.

2) The practice

Most notable:
  • John Moore, who has been ill, was on the ice and practicing.  (He played over 20 minutes against Boston.)
  • Radek Martinek, who suffered a concussion early in the season, was on the ice and practicing.  That really surprised me.  Martinek also has "Juice Syndrome," meaning he has an incredible penchant for hitting crossbars on open nets.
  • No captains were skating.  I can appreciate that it perhaps was an optional skate, but one would think that the leadership group would know that it was a STH-invite practice and be visible.  If they didn't want to practice, they could have come over, shaken some hands and kissed some babies.
  • Steve Mason and Derek Brassard have fallen mightily in the CBJ pecking order.  I say that because those who are lower on the roster ladder tend to hang out after the structured practice, do extra drills and clean up the practice pucks.  And Mase and Brass, among other more obvious characters, were right there.  Over $5 million in salary, schlepping pucks...
  • No Scott Arniel.  Assistants Berry, Hinote, Richards and Clark ran practice.
3) Jack Edwards

I know that Edwards is a polarizing character in broadcasting.  He is a homer's homer of a play-by-play man.  As he put it himself, his glasses have one black lens and one gold lens.  He works for NESN, so he knows his audience...and he plays to it.  I think he's great...a model play-by-play guy for a local/regional broadcaster.  His team can do no wrong, and the opponent can do nothing right.  You can't ask for better, in my humble opinion.  (In fact, there's a Twitter user out there who captures his idiosyncracies...JackEdwardsSays.  Follow it to see what I mean.)

Edwards said many complimentary things about the CBJ, most notably that they appear to finally have settled on an identity in the last couple of years.  And, bless Rimer's soul for bringing it up, he talked about perhaps one of the greatest homer calls of the last 10 years, this gem after the Bruins beat the hated Habs...

He's a Bay Stater...and a history buff.  And no, he didn't apologize for anything.

4) Scott Howson

The Columbus Blue Jackets general manager was once
again candid and straightforward in the Q&A
portion of the season ticket holder event.
Howson jumped straight into the recently completed NHL Board of Governors meeting and was (for him) giddy over the forthcoming realignment.  Key to the season ticket holders, he said, was the fact that the rivalries of the current Central Division remain intact while knowing that every team in the NHL will now have home and home series with each other.  (But he let slip that had the CBJ been bumped to the Eastern Conference, that would have been just fine with the team!)

Then on to Q&A.
  • The "season ticket holders" were still miffed about the epic Nashville collapse. So that took the majority of the beginning of the session.  To give you a flavor, the Q&A opened with someone asking, "Can you petition the NHL to eliminate the last two minutes of every period?"  Yeah, it went like that. Howson did suggest that the inability to win faceoffs at the end of the game were a huge contributing factor, and they also knew a makeup call was coming from the refs.
  • Kristian Huselius likely will be out until the All-Star break.  Howson openly wondered if Juice was rushed back to full-time duty too quickly, leaving him exposed to injury.
  • Injury report: Everyone who was injured before the Boston game...probably won't be back for at least two weeks.  Some, like Dekanich (who will be rehabbing for a stretch in Springfield before coming back to Columbus) will take longer.
  • Shanahan & the Wiz suspension: Howson said that Wisniewski "was made an example of."  While he publicly supported the increasingly lax stance on discipline coming out of the league office, he did say that Edmonton's "Andy Sutton had better get nailed."  Sounded to me like Howson was a tad bitter and wanted to see some equity in discipline.  (We later learned that Sutton did indeed get nailed - eight games.)
  • Asked about an All-Star Game in Columbus, Howson suggested that it looks positive but gave nothing concrete past that.
  • Then it was time for the stars.  Howson said that he's been talking with Nash about playing a complete game and not just scoring goals (As if he has been scoring in bunches, I know...).  Carter's a bigger issue, and Howson said his mindset is "not where we need it to be".  Howson then recited the litany of soul-crushing issues in Carter's professional life and was genuinely empathetic.  He added that Carter, a bit of a "thoroughbred," was reluctant to have extra padding on the skate where his foot has been broken a couple of times now.  Then, he mentioned that Nash and Carter haven't "clicked" yet.
  • A observation was offered from the crowd that not a single captain or alternate was on the ice for the morning skate.  I wish I could remember the rest of the comment and Howson's response, but I can't.  
  • Someone asked Howson about the inflammatory Twitter comments of Derick Brassard's agent, Allan Walsh.  I believe the question included the term, "drive-by."  Howson called the comments unfortunate and proceeded to say that Brassard has had plenty of opportunities and needs to capitalize on them.


  1. I really have to say I like Jack Edwards. I heard some of the good things he was saying about Columbus and loved it. But not just Edwards says good things. I remember last year when we played the Caps, I was watching the Caps feed and they couldn't say enough nice things about he CBJ. I actually liked listening to the game for once. I like our broadcasters and all, but they can start to beat Columbus down really fast in games and I feel that they should be the ones to try to stay positive and keep the fans positive! Maybe it's just me, but I have to mute the TV sometimes because they are either kissing the other teams a** or going on and on about how bad the CBJ is at this or need to be better at that. It gets old. Alls I'm saying, is it would be nice to have a commentator like Jack Edwards.

  2. In defense of Jeff & Bill, it's easier to stay positive about your team when they're a consistent playoff contender.

    But yes, Edwards is pretty solid (if not a ridiculous homer) play-by-play guy. I just watched the NESN feed of Saturday night's game, and he was exceedingly fair (for an opposing team's broadcaster) to the Blue Jackets. Either he likes us, or he feels sorry for us. Can't tell which. :-)


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