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.
GO JACKETS!! GO FALCONS!! HATCHED AND HUNGRY!!