Sunday, December 9, 2012

Organizational Courage

One week from tomorrow the Columbus Blue Jackets will be hosting an open house for season ticket holders so we can meet and talk to John Davidson, the new President of Hockey Operations, and Coach Todd Richards.  Being one of them thar nuts who still has his money with the team, in spite of the shenanigans of messieurs Fehr and Bettman, I will get an opportunity to attend.

In the interest of fairness, Mr. Davidson, I am going to telegraph this punch.  Here is the question I am going to ask you:

Do we have the organizational courage to leave the young men in Springfield down there to finish the job if there is a truncated NHL season?

Right now the Springfield Falcons sit atop the AHL standings.  They have the best road record in the AHL.  Cam Atkinson, Ryan Johansen, Matt Calvert, John Moore, Tim Erixon, Curtis McElhinney have all staked varying levels of claim to an NHL roster spot, should we have any kind of season.  What they have done in Springfield is put together a darn good start to the season.  In my mind it is critical to the long term prospects of the CBJ to have these guys experience the whole process as a team.

Indeed, we are very experienced in watching good starts in Columbus.  In 2 of the last 3 NHL seasons the team has put together the best start in franchise history, only to falter in December when the intensity of play picks up.  The opportunity to put together a winner in the AHL, to have the future core of our hockey team experience success is priceless.  Do we have the courage and will to refuse to cash that in for the short term benefit of a truncated NHL season?  Not to mention that having this core exchange assumed success at the AHL level for assumed short term success at the NHL is very self defeating looking at next year's draft.  If ever there was a year to tank a truncated season, this is it (quit winnin' for MacKinnon!!), since we have 3 first round draft picks.

Any hockey season is long, and filled with ups and downs. Springfield has had a mini-slump and emerged.  They will face more challenges ahead as the AHL season progresses.  They should be allowed to experience those challenges as a team, to help establish a tradition of success in the organization.

The CBJ have never had a winner as an AHL team.  The only exception is the epic tale of Zenon Konopka's inspired leadership, and a record setting winning streak to propel the Syracuse Crunch into the playoffs.  Konopka literally chiseled each win into the locker room wall with a screw driver, and dragged that team into the playoffs by force of will.

Our current Falcons team has an opportunity to establish a tradition of success in the AHL that is all its own.  A tradition of winning in the AHL would be a huge asset to the parent club, the CBJ.  These young men should be allowed to have the opportunity to attempt this significant long term contribution to the organization.  But they have to finish the process first, and fight their way to and through the playoffs.

They deserve that chance.



  1. This is the BEST comment/blog that I have read this season

    1. Thanks! We appreciate you reading our stuff!

  2. Hear, hear!

    (And, considering past practice, leaving the kids in the AHL would be as challenging as you suggest.)

  3. I understand your point and there is certainly some merit to it. But aren't you also selling a number of these young men a little short? Isn't the reason they have worked all these years, to make an NHL team? Some of these guys have already played in the show, as much as a year in the case of Ryan Johansen. Would you deny them their opportunity to earn an NHL level paycheck?

    While there is something to be said about working together at the AHL level there are also a number of players on the "Big" club that they can be learning to play with as well. They are going to be around them a lot more years than they will most of the guys in Springfield.

    You have to fill out the roster, the CBJ will need at least 2 Forwards and 2 Defensemen. and to me you ice the best team you can, anything else is just pure and plain TANKING. Do you really think there are 2 forwards and 2 defensemen out there better than Atkinson, Johansen, JAM, Erixon, Savard and Moore? Should EDM leave Hall, RNH, Schultz, and the rest in OKC? Should Huberdeau stay for seasoning? Would you give Holtby another year to mature? The list is extensive.

    If they are ready, they are ready and if JD thinks they are; then let them play.

    1. You raise some valid points, and some I disagree with. The big club is in a state of transition. Who are the long term contracts? Wiz and JMFJ? So yes the roster needs filled, but in a trucated year you backfill with veterans on short term deals.

      No one is denying these guys a shot at the NHL. But its ok to insist that they kick the door down to get there instead of opening it prematurely and ushering them just for short term ticket sales. We are talking about laying the foundation for a winning hockey franchise.

      Going through the process of finishing the job in the A will do more for their NHL career than a handful of games in a bad season.