Thursday, January 5, 2012

Things I'll be thinking about

Well kids, it's time for that Annual Time When DBJ Drops Off The Grid For A While.  While I'm out, my compadres - Gallos, Greg and Alison - will be holding down the fort.  If you recall Gallos' game recaps from earlier in the season, you'll know that my absence likely will result in a marked improvement in blog quality.  Seriously, I wish all three of my compatriots lots of fun and joy (Hush now, you!) as they chronicle the next few CBJ games and share their impressions on the days in-between.

While I'm away, you know I'll be mulling over life in CBJ-land.  As I reflect prior to my fade to black, here are some of the things that I'll be thinking about - and perhaps you may wish to as well:

  • With over 800 individual responses (meaning roughly 80 people have completed all 11 questions) to the "State of the Blue Jackets" poll, I'm starting to get a picture of what at least a segment of the CBJ fanbase is thinking.  84% of you want coach Scott Arniel fired.  63% of you want general manager Scott Howson fired.  78% of you want president Mike Priest fired.
    • Why does Howson get a (relatively) easier time than Arniel or Priest?  Is it the legend of his being a "roster ninja"?  Hindsight being 20/20 over his entire body of personnel work in Columbus, is he deserving of the moniker?
    • Considering that Priest only helped move the arena deal forward and apparently spoke persuasively with the NHL Board of Governors over realignment prior to getting a result that the team is celebrating, what has he done to warrant harsher opinion than Howson?
  • Why am I getting nervous at the thought of a possibly lame-duck general manager making transformational personnel calls?  Not that Howson would intentionally damage the CBJ by his actions (more than signing a whole lot of underperforming players to a whole lot of lengthy, expensive contracts may have done), but what if his vision isn't the same as that of the guy to follow him?
  • Despite the way this season has gone, I suppose it's not a given that anyone in CBJ leadership - coach, GM, president - will get the axe, is it? 
  • We all know that Rick Nash is a good - no, a great - guy.  We know that he's talented.  We know that he's loyal to Columbus, the Blue Jackets and the McConnells.  But the team has literally been built to support him as he supposedly is in his prime as a professional, and its now playing some of its worst hockey ever.  Genuine frustration aside, what conclusions are we supposed to draw?  
  • With the Blue Jackets being a fairly tight-lipped organization when it comes to their internal affairs, is it fair to say, "I don't believe Craig Patrick has been empowered to do a darned thing" until he...does something?  
  • The online sports bookies suggest that Vinny Prospal will be the first Blue Jacket to get traded after January 1, 2012.  Seeing as he's one of a precious few who is outplaying his paycheck, doesn't it make sense that he would be one of the last to get traded...with Howson (or whomever) ginning up a bidding war on the presumption that the team can't re-sign the terrific veteran (which would be my call, given the opportunity)?
  • Why does the thought of the Blue Jackets getting the number one overall pick scare me so much?  Is it that they've had such an unproductive draft history (including the Howson tenure...Filatov and Voracek are now gone)?  Is it that they have had such a devil of a time developing talent?  Is it that seemingly all of the "top of the top" prospects are Russians...an ethnicity that, for whatever reason, the Blue Jackets just haven't had luck with?  (Tyutin and perhaps Nikitin excepted, of course.)  Might it not be better to trade the pick for a proven talent with a few years left on his contract - a "Jeff Carter type," if you will?  
  • Considering his past performance and now his bridge-burning with media, can you think of a realistic scenario where Scott Arniel can turn it around and salvage his job?
  • In that vein, the bookies also are suggesting through the betting lines that Scott Arniel won't be given the axe until April.  Is that necessarily good for the health of the franchise and its fanbase?
  • Considering that Arniel is not the first coach for whom this team (or, better stated, this team's core) has fallen flat, is it worth revisiting the question of whether Arniel is necessarily a bad coach - or whether ANY coach could win at this point in time...with this environment/locker room/culture/whatever hex exists over the Blue Jackets?  
  • How would we redefine "success" considering the fact that pretty much everyone acknowledges that the season is lost from a playoff viability perspective?  
  • Tagging along with that, why in the world aren't more prospects from Springfield being given a look at the big league level?  The Falcons are in 5th in their division, which I would think doesn't bode well for their playoff hopes.  So why wait until after the trade deadline to pluck a few of their young guns and see if they can run with the big dogs?
  • The arguments to "nuke" the team (including its core) are compelling.  But who should stay, and who should go?  And who do you hold onto for a good deal...and who gets moved for a bag of pucks?
  • Won't it be nice to have a season where thoughts are about playoffs instead of about rebuilding?  Someday...
I'm sure there will be more on my mind, and you can bet that I'll share them going forward.  See you all soon!

2 comments:

  1. DBJ - Lots to consider. One thing I would chime in on: You leave the kids down in Springfield because they are not out of the fight, and you want them chasing the playoffs, not up here chasing their tail. Not a one of them down there that would not benefit by another year in the 'A', especially if they can make a playoff run.

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  2. Gallos,
    I agree. Minor league playoff experience would do them more good than cellar-dwelling in the majors.

    DBJ,

    EDIT:
    Gosh, this quick reply turned into a small blog post. Refill your coffee before venturing forth.

    My quick $0.02 on your questions:
    1) I think the numbers across the board are high because people are angry with such utter failure when hopes were so high this past offseason. With all of the "on paper" improvements to the roster, people feel like the blame has to be coaching and front office. I suspect a large contingent of those votes took a "fire everyone" approach.
    1a) That being said, I say fire Scott&Scott, keep Priest. Priest isn't my favorite dude, but he handled his business with the realignment well. Now that Craig Patrick is here, I suspect the idea that top management is all non-hockey guys will (hopefully) dissolve.
    2) If GMSH was really as lame duck as you fear, I doubt he has the green light to do anything that drastic without some rubber stamping from his peers in the front office.
    3) Not 100% certain, but I'd say it's in the high 80s to 90s.
    4) Nash... idk. How many years can you blame everyone around him? At the same time, if nothing changes, can you really expect him to do anything better? That's a tough one. I still think he has superstar potential, but it has to show up soon, or we need to consider a Nash-less CBJ.
    5) I tend to agree. I haven't heard a peep about him since he was hired. I wonder if it is b/c he's drowning in work because... well.. look at this mess! I'd love for a beat writer to get him on the phone or something and do an interview.
    6) He'd be the first traded simply because he has the most to offer per dollar spent. Talent, hard work, energy, experience, and, frankly, less CBJ taint.
    7) There's always the chance that CBJ fails miserably to develop a talent, but we haven't had a 1st overall since Nash, who turned out pretty decent. The Russian thing is a non-factor. Nail is effectively a Canadian boy who speaks Russian. He's playing in the OHL, rather than in Russia, and has said before he has no interest in the KHL whatsoever. Great teams become great through the draft. Period. If you have the chance at drafting someone who is projecting to be as good as anyone has seen since Ovi, you HAVE to take the chance. You will not get that kind of return, and even if you did, you will pay for a major contract vs. and entry level.
    8) Simply, no. He's dead in the water, but there's no urgency to replace him. Where would CBJ end up if they got a new coach that could make them win? 12th? Just high enough to keep them out of the Nail lottery.
    9) I think the problem is identity. They went from romper-room to Hitch Hockey with a mismatched roster, to Arniel's psuedo-puck-possession-turned-lame-Hitch-Hockey with a still mismatched roster. If CBJ hired a coach that had a strong vision for the team came in and actually implemented it without falling back on whatever the hell Arniel is doing, maybe it would work. Maybe.
    10) 2 periods of entertainment followed by a loss that keeps us the team with the best chance at getting Nail and keeps the fire firmly under management/ownership. It's a pretty crappy thing to strive for, but sometimes abject failure is what it takes to get changes made.
    11) See Gallos's comment. No reason to rush them at this point.
    12) If I could answer this well, then I would be applying for a job with the CBJ right now. At first blush, however, I think you have to establish the core of the team is Nash, Carter, Umberger, Johan, and Wiz. Everybody else is at least somewhat expendable. There is certainly another tier below that of players that you'd tend to want to hold onto unless someone overpaid in a trade, but they should be considered available. Anyone who has been injured all year is probably in the bag-of-pucks territory if someone even offers anything.
    13) One day... hopefully.

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