I'm back from Christmas travel, not so rested but remarkably ready to dive back into the remainder of this Columbus Blue Jackets season. It's funny - even with things as lousy as they've been, I've missed hockey over the past couple of days.
HOPE FROM UP NORTH
Perhaps the most CBJ-germane thing to come from the holiday break was the weekend's National Football League action. Specifically, the Detroit Lions qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 1999. Think about it: A team whose unofficial motto is "Nothing since 1957...but we're working on it" can't even sniff the postseason for a longer period of time than the CBJ have been in existence, and they made it back to the promised land.
Of course, I've long since been pushed away from rabid Lions fanhood by the inept Matt Millen and have since found hockey, which really is a more interesting sport to follow on a number of fronts. I still carry a soft spot for the Leos, though, and am very happy for the team and its fans. If time permits, I'd love to explore the lessons that the Blue Jackets could learn from the Lions vis a vis turning a franchise around. Because if anyone knew how to lose in the 2000's, it was the Detroit Lions.
THE DISPATCH DONE GOOD
Two really strong pieces from the Columbus Dispatch within the last few days:
"Sweeping change could right Jackets' sinking ship" by Aaron Portzline offers a variation on the "blow it all up" motif. I'm not sure I buy the notion that a 65-year-old Craig Patrick really wants to be the next Blue Jackets major domo, but it sure is easy to see him as the guy who can serve as the bridge between the current management team of Priest, Howson and Arniel and whatever could come next. Lots of other good stuff to ponder, including how far to go in nuking the roster. If it was done with a clearly explained vision toward building an actual identity, I could buy all of this plus more.
"Game No. 34" by Shawn Mitchell on the Puck Rakers blog is some darned fine reporting. While CBJ coach Scott Arniel was too steamed to talk to the larger media, he blew off steam in pretty spectacular fashion for a generally safe guy with Mitchell. Arniel's rant comes off as a coach at the end of his rope - figuratively if not literally. It's now come straight from the horse's mouth - the state of this team is not good, not good at all.
By the way, I was part of the legion of online folks who have criticized the Dispatch for virtually lobbying for Kevin Dineen to replace interim head coach Claude Noel. In hindsight, maybe the Dispatch writers were onto something. Dineen is doing a heck of a job in Florida right now, and I gather he's a contender for the Jack Adams coach of the year award.
Gotta cut this short...need to grab a quick final Christmas dinner/gift exchange in before tonight's game against the Blackhawks. Enjoy the game, everyone!