Saturday, March 3, 2012

Alphabet Soup.

Hello friends! This post started off as "alison's recap of the trade deadline", but, as I pondered it more, I think most everything that can be said has been said, and while apparently Scott Howson's definition of "very active" and my definition of "very active" are rather different, we made it through, albeit with a somewhat different roster. Obviously, the most looming non-transaction during the trade period was the activity surrounding Rick Nash.

The pending trade of Nash is another topic that has been debated as much as it can be...for now. Suffice it to say, that I do believe that come next season, Nasher will find himself as part of another team, and hopefully, the Blue Jackets will have acquired assets in trade that can help us become a true contender in the NHL. So, the question looms...where do we go from here? And that brings us to the alphabet...the alphabet of "C's" and "A's".

Rick Nash has worn the C for Columbus for almost all of his Blue Jackets career. It will surely be a jolt to see the letter on another jersey - but, here is my completely amateur view of what we'll see come puck drop 2012. My belief is that the letters should go to guys who are not brand spanking new to the team next year, so, assuming that the bearers of the letters are on this roster now, I'm throwing out my theories - and welcome all of yours....

The C.
Here we go - Vinny Prospal gets my vote. Much has been made of the perceived "country club" atmosphere in Blue Jackets land, Nash's preferred leadership style, the lack of youth development and the lack of "hating to lose". Vinny brings something to the table to address each of these gaps. From the time we saw Vinny hit the ice, he's played with fire and emotion - while his age may be getting the better of him down the stretch - if you have attended any practice, you can see that he still brings effort to every hockey action (even "teaching" the guys how to properly celebrate a goal.) Further, Derek Dorsett, Ryan Johansen and others have credited Vinny with helping them develop their game.

Vinny hasn't been afraid to challenge the culture here, all while becoming a fan favorite along the way. He's got a long standing hockey career to back up his opinions and, as the holder of what is basically a life-time contract with the CBJ, its fair to assume he's invested in making this team better. I would also be remiss if I didn't point out that Vinny signed his extension (the only of the season thus far) in February. According to all reports, Nash brought up the possibility of a trade in January. While I have no proof, I believe that Vinny may have known what changes lie ahead and accepted that challenge regardless.

The A.
While a much more symbolic label, my votes go to James Wisniewski, and Derek Dorsett. Let's get the easy one out of the way. Dorse obviously gets my (admittedly biased) vote - he's arguably the heart of the team and has worn the A well in his two bursts - both under Noel and Richards. He plays with passion and intensity, and the development of his game this year legitimizes him to become part of team leadership.

Similarly, the Wiz, has come in with intensity and energy both on and off the ice. He's had a well documented rough start here, but I am of the opinion that the off-ice time during the ankle injury refocused him and calmed him down a bit and he's turning into someone who can equally fire up his team and his fans. Let's not forget that Wiz is the guy who blocks two shots, and with under five minutes left, hobbles to the locker room and comes back on ice during the debacle that was the Chicago game. He's playing for pride, he's playing to leave it all on the ice - cementing that attitude is something we desperately need. Wiz is also an excellent "face of the franchise" (see "Failed experiment: Jeff Carter"). We need leaders who will embrace every opportunity to feed the relationships with the fans and the community. From twitter contests to wanting to make the most for the Blue Jackets foundation during the holiday "gift basket raffle", Wiz seems to want to everything.

I also think that Wiz could be uniquely positioned to take on the C after Vinny finishes up his stint on-ice.

I'll also offer up, in my honorable mention category Derick Brassard. No doubt about it, the guy has skills. And since his inexplicable stint in the Arniel doghouse, the guy is stepping it up - fighting on behalf of his teammates, playing hard at both ends of the rink, and demonstrating more and more leadership. It looks like that upper lip might be stiffening a bit - and if so, slap a letter on that boy too!

I can already hear some of you - "but RJ Umberger has the A now!" Yes, yes he does. But, unfortunately, his on-ice play has been down (like most everyone in Union Blue) this year and he hasn't shown the fire that endeared him to fans in the first place. Here's hoping he can earn that A back, but for now, I think a change is good.

Future Contenders...
Now, what actually excites me about the possible changes in our alphabet-based labels is that these guys can set the tone for the next round of leaders. Who am I excited to see step up? Ryan Johansen, John Moore and maybe, just maybe Boone Jenner or Nail Yakupov.

When it comes to what we want out of our players, I'm not the only one to say that we need guys who "hate to lose more than they love to win". Our own DBJ has much debated the lack of an identity for this team. Will Nash leaving open the window for the first chance to shape that identity? Perhaps. And, if that's the case, these are the guys who I say can set the foundation for an identity - a winning identity - that we can be proud of.

Disagree? Of course you do - prove me wrong in the comments below! :)


  1. Likes. A lot.

    Vinny, the father figure, with two simmering fireballs alongside. That's a potent combination.

  2. I think Jack Johnson deserves an honorable mention for an "A" I know he may be new but I already like his enthusiasm towards playing in Columbus and think he will be a fan favorite sooner than later. Vinny deserves the "C" but I think someone should get it thats gonna wear it for years to come. Wiz gets my vote!!!

  3. Good ideas overall. One other option I like: remove the C from Nash and play the rest of the season without a captain. Let the new coach (I don't think Richards is not the man for the team) decide after the preseason and he's seen the team for a bit. Starting the next season with a new coach, and also (hopefully) a new GM and president would be a good reboot for the team as a whole.

    And just for details: Nash first played in Oct 2002 and was not named captain til March 2008, so that's roughly 5 years of playing (considering the lockout) before he was named captain and roughly 4 years since.


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