Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Carter Conundrum.

There's hockey tonight kids! So once again, our attention turns away from the great All Star announcement back to the specifics of our team. It was announced loudly and clearly right before the break that management would be willing to make a trade involving Jeff Carter. To say Jeff has been a "lightening rod" of innuendo, rumor and negativity since day one of his CBJ tenure would be an understatement. Now, as those of you who know me are aware, I am by no means a "brilliant hockey mind", but as of right now, I'd say keep Jeff. If you come across a trade that is just insanely positive for CBJ, then trade him for as much as you can get - but don't just throw him away. Many are attributing the demand for trading him to be based in how "unhappy" he is, but I've yet to see a thorough analysis of his game on ice that demands he leave the roster. Its all off ice stuff.

If your curious in some of this analysis of game prowess, I'd point you to a post made over at Carry the Flag today that discussed Carter's possible value in staying in more detail (comments are good here too). But, as is my focus, I'd offer a bit of food for thought from a fan perspective.

Controversy sells. Why is everyone talking about Jeff Carter and how unhappy he is? Because its drama. And drama sells. We can talk all day about "what we heard" and "what so-and-so said" without necessarily having cold hard facts to prove it. Right now, right or wrong, we have to go on what's on record from Jeff Carter and Jeff Carter's agent. Everything else - well its hearsay. If Carter gets traded, and buys a billboard that says "thank goodness I'm gone from Columbus" look to me to be the first to say I was wrong, but until then - we can't say we know anything.

Glass Houses and All That. Oh I've heard the stories too. "Jeff Carter doesn't talk to the press", "Jeff Carter was mean to fans", "Jeff Carter didn't sign an autograph". Now don't get me wrong, I'd be crushed if all I wanted was Jeff's autograph and he shunned me. But, unfortunately, in many of these "Jeff's a jerk" stories that have been told to me, they involve equally embarrassing acts by fans. Taunting a player with obscenities and insults is probably not the right way to get him to like the hometown fans nor make him more welcome to participate with them in the future. For what its worth, at official engagements I've heard positive feedback (and yes, I know some of you have not), but, honestly, that's the only place we can truly know all the facts to evaluate Jeff off-ice when it comes to the Jackets.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Glass Bangers, 1/29/12

PROTESTS WORK (REVISITED) - We're right around 24 hours since the Columbus Blue Jackets fan protest got started.  Considering all the online sturm and drang over the event, let's revisit the question: Did it work?  To try to answer the question after such a short period of time is a tad tricky, but I think a review of my thoughts on why I am a solid supporter of the public protest might be in order:
Can you hear me now?
Protests change the dynamic of human dialogue.  They grab attention.  They make those in power uncomfortable.  They are factors in driving change.
Without question, the public dialogue shifted and the voice of at least 250 diehard fans was injected into the conversation.  "Big" media coverage has been strong and, from this vantage point, fair (Channels 46 and 10; Columbus Dispatch's Hunter and Puck Rakers).  The protest sure grabbed NHL commissioner Gary Bettman's attention, as he spoke to the "passion" of the Columbus fans yesterday, and Blue Jackets staff who were present were certainly standing at attention.  In fact, one could point to John P. McConnell's open letter to ticket buyers and fans as a preemptive response to the protest.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

When the Blue Jackets finally start winning...

...make sure you thank these people for coming out on a cold day to the Columbus Blue Jackets fan protest as they made their voices heard loud and clear.

All-Stars, all.

Friday, January 27, 2012

2013 NHL All-Star Game in Columbus?

So says the Dispatch.

Very, very exciting news for the City of Columbus, the State of Ohio and its many hockey fans if true.

Also, let's keep in mind that the woeful on-ice performance of the Columbus Blue Jackets hockey club and the selection of the All-Star Game site are mutually exclusive matters.  That being said, can Mr. McConnell and his partners please focus their attention on fixing the host franchise? PLEASE?

(And can we also avoid a lockout year?)

Why I won't Protest; Culpability

Hitch mingles with the intelligentsia at Training Camp
Ok, culpability is a strong word.  Let's be clear, I am not legally responsible for the performance of the Columbus Blue Jackets.  Let's just use 'responsibility' as a good synonym, but culpability reads better on a twitter feed.

The responsibility part is kind of hard for me.  The only move that Scott Howson made that I disagreed with at the time it was made was the firing of Coach Ken Hitchcock.  I didn't agree with it at the time, and I thought the reasons proffered (the game has passed him by) were weak.  I feel even more strongly about it in retrospect.  Essentially Hitch was fired because he didn't develop Filatov.  That's a heck of a note.

Other than that, I have generally pretty much agreed with Howson's moves (except Glencross for Tarnstrom, though Glencross wanted to be in western Canada). In hind sight, I disagree with a lot of Howson's moves.  The problem is that Howson never has hindsight to use as a tool when decision making.  He has it as a learning tool, which is something that JPM intimated in his letter today. We knew Howson was relatively inexperienced. What is his capacity for learning?

Because I generally agreed with Howson on most of his moves, I won't be protesting tomorrow.  (Disclosure, I don't have a lot going on, so I'll be down there because I care,  and I'll be in the role of staff photographer for this blog.  I also know and respect many of those who will be protesting, so I reserve the right to talk with them like they were regular folks.  But I won't be protesting).

Which brings me to the Cleveland Browns.

Deeds, not words...

...but the words are a good start.

I, like apparently every other Columbus Blue Jackets ticket package holder, received this in my email box this morning.

January 27, 2012

Dear [DBJ],

My father held a longstanding belief that a major league sports franchise would prove an important catalyst in the growth and development of Columbus. After more than 30 years of effort, the opportunity to make his belief reality presented itself with the NHL awarding a franchise to Columbus in 1997. To my mind, it is clear he was right in his vision. With the Blue Jackets and the Arena as the anchor, Nationwide Insurance has brought vibrancy to our downtown in the Arena District that simply wouldn't have happened without the team.

That said, there is no question our on-ice performance is nowhere near what it needs to be. All of you are disappointed and many are angry. I and the entire Blue Jackets organization share these feelings. I thought as we approached mid-season at the All-Star break, it would be a good time to reflect on where we've been and offer some thoughts about how we go forward. We have taken actions and will continue our push to improve.

Toward the end of last season, we did a thorough evaluation of our team's strengths and weaknesses. From there, a plan was developed balancing our needs against our tradable assets. During the summer, we believed we executed the plan well and took a good step forward. Most people seemed to agree and we were excited for the season to start.

Unfortunately and surprisingly, we opened the season terribly and have struggled ever since. Disappointing is not a strong enough word.

We began looking at why our team was not performing at an acceptable level very early this season and assessing where we are and where we want to go. We added Craig Patrick, an experienced and highly respected figure in the hockey community, as a senior advisor to assist in this endeavor. While this process is not complete, we have clearly defined our options and are finalizing our plans.

I understand you want to know what we're going to do to fix this, but it is important for us to maintain a degree of discretion to prevent putting ourselves at a competitive disadvantage. I can tell you action will be taken in the coming weeks and months, be it around the trade deadline, the entry draft and/or free agency that will be indicative of our direction.

Our goal as an organization is to build a team that wins consistently and competes for the Stanley Cup. Anything less is unacceptable! Everything we do in the coming weeks, months and years will be done to that end and everyone in our organization - myself, management, staff, coaches and players - will be held to that standard.

I am very thankful and appreciative of the dedication and passion you have shown as a Blue Jackets fan and I am committed to giving you a team of which you can be proud.


John P. McConnell

Good for him...he's caught on.  Now, what is he going to do?

Why I'll be protesting on Saturday

About halfway through writing my Big Question post, it hit me: I'm pushing myself toward participation in Saturday's Columbus Blue Jackets fan protest.  So it only makes sense that I take a blog post to discuss the matter from my perspective.

I write all this not to sway anyone's opinion one way or another.  If you agree with me and want to join in, I'll see you on Saturday.  If you disagree, I hope that this post helps you understand my actions.

Do public protests work?  Ask the Tea Party, who fueled
a Republican takeover of the U.S. House of Representatives.
I am a firm and unwavering believer in the power of public protest.  The fact of the matter is that protests often work.  Protests change the dynamic of human dialogue.  They grab attention.  They make those in power uncomfortable.  They are factors in driving change.  Let's look at some examples:
  • Tea Party protests fueled a change in control of Congress and helped heal a fractured political party.  
  • The "Occupy" movement of protests helped reshape the public dialogue on the discussion of class in America.  
  • In the world of professional sports, the "Millen Man March" was a contributing factor in focusing public pressure on the inept management of the Detroit Lions by Matt Millen.
  • Closer to the NHL, Montreal fans are raising cain over the lack of their beloved French language by Les Habitants.  
A public protest may not be a form of behavior that is to everyone's liking - especially in a society that has been conditioned to be passive and conflict-averse - but it does work.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

What I would do: The roster

Now that I've decided that Craig Patrick should replace Scott Howson ASAP, it's time to tackle the roster.

We'll start with the coach.  It's established that Todd Richards is the interim head coach through the end of the season.  To date, I've seen nothing to suggest that his performance should preempt a full coaching search.  Not sure much more needs to be said on that front.  I'm not married to a playing philosophy...I just want a guy that knows how to coach NHL players and knows how to win with them.  Period. So let's move on.

Candidly, individual players are not my strong suit.  I mean, any lunkhead can look at goals, assists, time on ice, penalty minutes, plus/minus or even the advanced stats like Corsi et al.  You can even try to develop a formula that considers the productivity value that you find against the amount (and length of time) that you're paying the player.

Problem is, I feel that this is precisely what Scott Howson has done with his roster.  What's missing, and is clearly so desperately needed, is an addressing of the culture of the team and its roster.  This is where Howson has fallen completely flat on his face.  As evidence:
  • Trying to shore up the lack of leadership by bringing in other team's ex-captains - and shipping out high character players in the process.  
  • Trading for a player (Carter) who clearly didn't want to be traded - and I won't even suggest whether he wants to play here or not.
  • Letting the team collapse for three straight seasons now with no change in its core.
The last point is perhaps the most damning, and it's the one that I'm going to suggest gets addressed with a blunt force object.

What I would do: The management

Judging from the Puck Rakers post on the current state of the Columbus Blue Jackets and the unanimous (or nearly unanimous) positive response from even the most unlikely of corners, it appears that the proposition that I proposed yesterday - that the team's dismal 2011-12 campaign is not an aberration but rather symptomatic of much deeper problems within the club that will inhibit their ability to win  - is one that has some legs.

While I'm not one to bow to the will of the chorus reflexively, I'm inspired by what I've seen and figure it's time to lay all my cards out on the table.  I've been biting my electronic tongue for most of this season, and the Blue Jackets' .008 percent chance of making the playoffs tells me that it's time to open up.

Addressing the big question of how to attack these deep-rooted problems is a two-part issue in my head.  First, you have to tackle the management question.  Note that my earliest "This isn't working!" posts involved discussions of management and not personnel.  Point being, you need the right people to be stewards of the ship before you add the crew.

So let's talk management.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The big question

Being away from the scene for a couple weeks forces me into a little catch-up, so bear with me.  I promise, this has direct bearing on the issue of the day (the forthcoming Columbus Blue Jackets fan protest, not the blog's 1000th post!).

Scott Howson and Mike Priest listen to former Blue Jackets head coach
Ken Hitchcock in happier days. (Photo from The Hockey Writers)
As I understand, the newly-reconstituted Blue Jackets ownership group met on January 16th.  The group now includes 30 percent shareholder Nationwide Corporation, however I learned today from the Puck Rakers chat that John P. McConnell still retains 50.1 percent of the team.  Thus, the Blue Jackets are still McConnell's toy to play with despite the new injection of ownership capital by our insurance friends downtown - when you own more than 50 percent, you win every vote.  So it's still McConnell...and everyone else.

Anyhoo, the Dispatch tells us that the meeting apparently included a presentation on the current state of Blue Jackets affairs from team executive management - meaning team president Mike Priest and general manager Scott Howson.  There could have been others, I don't know.  But the Dispatch is suggesting that those two had significant input.

Which brings me to the one question that needs to be answered, decisively, before anything else can be decided:  Is the Columbus Blue Jackets' terrible 2011-12 an aberration, or is it symptomatic of deeper problems on the club?

The 1,000th post: DBJ's quest for understanding in the land of the Mayans

[In honor of the Dark Blue Jacket blog's 1,000th post, I thought I'd share with everyone what I was up to over the past couple of weeks while Gallos, Alison, Greg and Rick made you forget I was gone.  Like most of my best work, please take everything herein with a grain of salt...it's all in fun, just as this blog is supposed to be.]


It was January 8th.  I was one day into my annual retreat from the real world yet, like most vacations, I couldn't turn my brain entirely off like a switch from the matters of the day...like a Blue Jackets game, this one against the Mighty (chuckle) Ducks of Anaheim.  The Jackets lost - not exactly a surprise - but they got shelled for (gasp!) seven goals en route to a 7-4 loss.  Ugly begat ugly, but it just didn't hurt as bad when I was catching bits and pieces of the game via NHL GameCenter Live from my balcony overlooking the Caribbean Sea.  In fact, I was so pleased with my game-watching experience that I snapped a photo:

Little did I know at the time that this was a snapshot of the final minutes of
Scott Arniel's Columbus Blue Jackets coaching career. 
I learned that Scott Arniel got the ziggy the following morning when general manager Scott Howson all but conceded what fans like - oh, I dunno, yours truly - have been saying since October: Barring an early season game-changing move that never came, the season was lost and it was time to look to 2012-13.

Is it that easy, though? Can a diehard (yet pragmatic) fan just accept his team Carrying The White Flag with half the season left, especially when hopes were so high for this roster and its slew of offseason acquisitions?

Nope, it's not...which left me 1,354 miles from home, virtually alone in my Blue Jackets fanhood, and grasping for answers that just weren't coming.   I was lost.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

DBJ's 5 Thoughts on Game 49: Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay 4 - Columbus 2
13-30-6, 5th in Central Division, 15th in Western Conference
The Columbus Blue Jackets coasted into the All-Star break with a 4-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

1. Did I sense a little punch from the boys? - I genuinely thought that for the first part of the first period that the CBJ were pushing well into the offensive zone.  This was notable for both being a rebound from last night in Nashville, where there may as well have been a literal wall of concrete at the Preds' blue line, but also for beating the vaunted Tampa 1-3-1 trap.  Sure, the Bolts' blue line is almost as bad off as Columbus'...but the system still can work.  So making anything happen under such circumstances is a bit of a moral victory.  Which appears to be all the Blue Jackets can muster right now.

Guest post: On that "Occupy Nationwide" thing

[Guest poster Mark Erickson (@RedditCBJ) had this to say about the scuttlebutt of the day...]

After last night's 4-1 loss in Nashville, a growing number of CBJ fans have been tweeting that they want to organize a protest on Saturday at 2pm outside of Nationwide Arena. Among their primary complaints is that they are tired of 11 years of losing and that Mike Priest and Scott Howson need to be fired.

There are a few things here that don't make a lot of sense to me:
  1. What's going on Saturday at 2pm? Absolutely nothing. Not a single thing. There are no games on the schedule for this weekend because of the All Star Game in Ottawa on Sunday. The skills competition starts Saturday at 7pm. Most NHL personnel use this time to take a breather and to maybe take a vacation. For all intents and purposes, Nationwide Arena will be empty.

Monday, January 23, 2012

DBJ's 5 Thoughts on Game 48: Nashville

Steve Mason - Not the Solution
Tonight the Columbus Blue Jackets fell to the Nashville Predators 4-1.  As bitter as the taste is in my mouth, I'll confess that the better team won.  Although many of us are fond of carping about the amount of money spent this year vs. the results seen, keep in mind the CBJ did not ice a $62 million dollar team tonight.  I think tonight's roster would have made the league minimum.  Anyway, it doesn't matter to Nashville, they beat the pricey lineup before too.  Although that is the lineup that beat them at home, and one of the last few times that lineup was on the ice.  Meh.  That and a nickel ...

1. Turn overs in the low slot - No, the Preds did not win the game on the Power Play, like Rimmer said.  The CBJ lost the game with brutal turnovers in the low slot, allowing Mr. Underwood  to bury a beauty early, and Matt Halischuk (huh??) to bury one late.  Honestly I thought the latter was one he just threw at the net and got lucky, but somehow, the three BlueJackets repeatedly coughing the puck up contrived to give him the space to make a pretty good shot off a spin move, and go top shelf blocker side on Mason.  Mason has to take the low shot on that blind spin move, so not much of a chance there.  Also Mason had no chance on Mr. Underwood's shot.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

DBJ's 5 Thoughts on Game 47: Detroit

Nikita Nikitin played a very solid game tonight.
Tonight the Columbus Blue Jackets succumbed to the Detroit Redwings in a shoot out 3-2.  Detroit won their 16th straight home game.  They are playing pretty good hockey, but you need a little luck for something like that.  And good goal tending.  Jimmy Howard is playing very well, and is a very solid goal tender.  That's why his wife was the third star of the second match between these clubs, for having a baby right before the CBJ win, and keeping Jimmy out of the game.  The Jackets played well, but also defended their lottery position from the plunging Oilers.  Now for the thoughts!

1. Nikita Nikitin - Nikitin was having a great game.  He scored on the power play, and was playing a very solid defensive game.  Was, that is, until inexplicably, Henrik Zetterburg pushed him from behind, causing Nikitin to go HARD into the boards.  He did not return to the game, and it will not be shocking if he is seriously injured.  Zetterburg drew a 5 minute major and a game misconduct.  It was not a hard hit, but Zetterburg pushed him from behind, and the push is likely the difference between a hard hit, and being hurt.  Wings fans will whine about it, but this isn't PeeWee hockey, so there is no stop sign on Nikitin's jersey to remind Zetterburg not to hit from behind.  That said, the notion that supplemental discipline is appropriate is absurd.  If Shanny reviews this, I will politely step aside and let the Wings fans rip.  The penalty was appropriate, but that's all it needs to be.  For the CBJ, another tough injury.  Still no word on the severity of the injury.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

DBJs 5 Thoughts on Game 46: Nashville

Our Columbus Blue Jackets dropped a 3-0 decision to those pesky Predators of Nashville, who returned to their winning ways after losing in New York last night. The Jackets fall to 2-3 under Coach Richards and 13-28-5 for the year.

Consider me extra bummed as this is my final recap while the true Dark Blue Jacket in on holiday and, to date, I was 2-0 on nights I had to write so I had high hopes going into the game. But if nothing else, this season has taught me that no superstition is gonna work. And believe me, I've tried everything.

But enough about me...let's look at the brutal facts of tonight's game:

1. Return to non-offensive form. Despite a dreadful second period, the Jackets controlled most of the first period and a large portion of the third, yet, our shots - and we took 38 of them - could not find the back of the net. Once again, we seemed to be aiming for the logo on Rinne's sweater versus the spaces around him. Some of our best scoring opportunities resulted in Nash shooting directly into the goaltender's glove, and Brass's huge window of opportunity resulted in a shot right into Rinne's pads. We got some rebounds but, still, they mean nothing if you can't get the goal. The stat sheet said it all - and this game felt like those earlier this season - 38 shots and no goals? There's just no excuse for that. Perhaps we stage our own little All-Star-esque skills competition and work on shots? A lot?

2. Shutout Streak Broken. Many of us have been shocked to find out that the CBJ held one  positive honor across the league and that is that we owned the record for the longest streak without suffering a shut out, and, before tonight, we were the only team not to have left a goose egg on the scoreboard this season. Well that ended tonight. So there's that.

What's the Difference?

A few months ago I found myself sitting at a Blue Jackets game next to a guy who said he was the brother-in-law of one of the players. For any of you who saw me on TV during the Bruins game when I was sitting in front of Derek Dorsett's mom and grandma, I am speaking of a different game. So, for the record, the guy sitting next to me, who I will hereafter refer to as Guy, was not related to Derek Dorsett. Other than that, I'm not going to reveal Guy's identity and it isn't important to the story.

Guy was a friendly . . . umm . . . guy, especially during the second period after he had "loosened up a bit," shall we say. From the outset the game wasn't going so well for the Jackets and I engaged Guy in a brief conversation about the state of the team. 

We discussed goaltending. We discussed the offseason acquisitions. We discussed specific players. But whenever Guy's comments would turn to the negative, he would pause and then add, "I really shouldn't say anything more." I didn't push him. I thought it would be uncool.

But to this day the one thing that sticks out in my mind about the exchange was when I mentioned Scott Arniel. It was at the very end of the conversation. I said something like, "I think Arniel will rally these guys. It's a long season." At first Guy didn't say a word, but the look he gave me read like a book. I did push him on this one. And this time he didn't hesitate.

"The players hate him," he said. "He treats them like minor leaguers. There's no respect."

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

DBJs 5 Thoughts on Game 45: Edmonton

Tonight, the Blue Jackets staged a well fought battle to come from behind and beat the Edmonton Oilers 4-2 bringing them to 2-1-0 to date during this brief home stand and 2-2-0 under new interim Coach, Todd Richards.

In a continued "reversal of fortune", after a dismally flat first 10-12 minutes, the Jackets erased a 2 goal deficit and answered back with 4 straight goals - including an empty net shot by Derek Dorsett - to win the game. To sum it all up:

1. Time Out! About half way through the first period, fans struggled to stay engaged and hopeful after two unanswered Edmonton goals, and listless Jackets play. It was then that Coach Richards chose to take a time out. Later we would hear that Richards wanted to refocus his team and remind them that they were "better than that". Well, whatever he said, it worked; the team responded to Richards' words and slowly built up the momentum through the balance of the period. After a first intermission during which we would learn later that the team was left to challenge each other to step up, we saw them seize control of the game and finish strong. I'd certainly take a slow start any day of the week if it results in a win such as tonight.

Oil Fire! Bait and Switch.

Brass and Vinny on the prowl.
In today's Columbus Dispatch Aaron Portzline offers up the current Edmonton Oilers as a model for team rebuilding.  Tank it for several years running, harvest those number one picks, and you have stocked your team with good talent.  Pittsburgh and Chicago are offered up as examples of teams that have done that successfully.

My point here is that while Edmonton is A model, its way too premature to say its a SUCCESSFUL model.  For all their recent number one picks, the Oil stand a whopping 9 points ahead of us in the standings.  The 2011-12 Oilers came out of the gate hot, only to have a pretty cataclysmic swoon.  Those Columbus Blue Jackets fans who followed the team in 2010-11 are fully aware of what a red hot start and a December swoon look like.

I don't want to belabor this much more than to point out that the Edmonton model has yet to result in any banners hanging from the rafters.  And since only 2 of all the big Pittsburgh picks are on the ice at this point in 2011-12, its worth pointing out that one of them is a darn good goal tender, Marc-Andre Fleury.  Awesome goal tending goes a long way.  Don't we know it!  So now, in the Required Reading section, I refer you to two really good posts that go into this issue in much more detail, our own Rick here at the DBJ (and many other venues), and Jeff over at Ten Minute Misconduct, who have broken this whole thing down more thoroughly.

Don't get fooled by the flashing lights and the shiny mirrors.  The Oil still have to mature, and prove they can win consistently.  That may be just around the corner for them.  Or it may still be 5 years away.  They are VERY young.  In 2009-10 the CBJ piled the expectations on their youth, and were largely disappointed.  The Oils youth is top shelf.  Will they be able to handle those expectations?


Monday, January 16, 2012

Hockey 'n' Heels - Can We Do it AGAIN?

This past Saturday, I took advantage of the opportunity to attend the Blue Jackets' "Hockey 'n' Heels" event before the San Jose game. Let me first say - while the female silhouette used in the ad could perhaps have been more, erh, realistic - I was really excited for this. I think that hockey can seem like too different a sport to take on, and, learning the game, appreciating the skill and doing away with preconceived notions can be a barrier...perhaps more so for women. Anything that gets women more involved in hockey is fine by me and I was looking forward to seeing what the CBJ would have to offer.

Dan Hinote Talks Coaching
I'll prepare you now - the rest of this post will contain a whole lot of gushing. This event was really spectacular. Hosted in the Founders Club - and let me say WOW (if you ever get invited - go!), we had drinks and food and a really elegant environment. The room was filled to capacity - great to see for women, and great to see for the organization. [Who says Columbus isn't a hockey market?]

Second, the Blue Jackets managed to cram a whole heck of a lot of great access to hockey and to the team in the two hours immediately preceding the game. The agenda of speakers was engaging: we started with GM Scott Howson, followed by Coach Dan Hinote. We also heard from the entire referee team for the night's game (dang it-they made me a) think they were human and b) like them), followed by former Buckeye women's hockey player, 2010 US Olympic medalist and 2010 World Champion, Lisa Chesson and capped of by an appearance from James Wisniewski.

Lisa Shows Off her Hardware
Every single speaker was engaged, honest, open to questions and generous with their time. I'll share some of the more hockey focused nuggets in a moment, but what was cool was that the sessions were everything I had hoped they'd be. Women came with a variety of questions from "what is a power play?" to "what do you think of the NHLPA's rejection of the proposed new schedule?" The point wasn't so much what everyone knew or didn't know, its that women were comfortable asking whatever they wanted, they were interested in knowing more about hockey, and the Blue Jackets were there to help.

Here's some tidbits/editorial comments from our speakers:
  • Once again, I give full marks to Scott Howson for his willingness to face the fan base and be honest this season. He addressed the failures of the team, talked about how to evaluate 18 year-olds (do you know any? Yeah, it might be challenging) and said that the team will NOT #FailforNail intentionally [and yes, someone asked]
  • The referee team talked about the rigors of getting to the big leagues - shared their travel schedules (worse than the players) and shared they'd prefer to be able to travel as a team versus as individuals as they do now. Every game they work with a whole new crew.
  • The referees said they appreciate the "war room" in Toronto but feel it might help to have some officials in there - right now its only coaches and former players (interesting!)
  • The refs also talked about how while the "enforcer" is being phased out, it actually opens up more people to take hits and this is a challenge
  • Dan Hinote said "I realize this now...its almost never all the Coach's fault"
  • I really wish I could have seen Lisa Chesson play hockey
  • Wiz just started putting weight on his foot this past Thursday and its hard for him to keep up cardio-vascular fitness work
  • Wiz is on the board of the NHLPA (which was news to me!) So he politely declined comment on that situation
  • Wiz: "The way we're all playing - we're all held accountable - and it needs to change"
  • Wiz "Guys are starting to realize how close we are and that's a mind set of going the extra mile and preparing yourself to be a winner"
  • Wiz really shouldn't even bother with the fake teeth
  • Wiz likes the spotlight. And he's good in it.
Wiz-with boot, without teeth
In closing, it was a great great night and the women I talked to after all truly enjoyed it. If I may also say that we need Wiz in Columbus - his presence is fantastic, he's great with a crowd, and he doesn't offer a lot of platitudes or canned phrases. I know some of you take issue with his play this season but, honestly, everyone falls into that category this year. Seriously - this guy can be a big asset to this organization on and OFF the ice. 

Oh - and after the event? We all went to our seats that were included in the price of admission....Club Level. Boom.

Thank you Jackets for a great evening - please do this again!!!

Frozen Diamond Faceoff - Pay Attention NHL

Third Period Faceoff in Progressive Field (fka Jacobs Field)
Thanks to my buddy Mike, a Tribe season ticket holder, I got a chance to attend the Frozen Diamond Faceoff, and outdoor hockey game matching the Ohio State University and Michigan University college hockey teams.  A powerful Michigan squad that is finding its stride beat a sagging OSU (not Ohio) 4-1.  OSU is experiencing a speed bump after a very hot start.

It was a great night for hockey, with game time temperatures in the high 20's and lots of sun.  A vibrant crowd of about 20,000 was in attendance for the first outdoor hockey game in Ohio.

We got a chance to join the crew from Light the Lamp as they enjoyed the sunny weather, tailgating outside of the restaurant before coming in to join in the pregame festivities.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Scalpel, Not the Bomb...

“We are rapidly approaching a moment of truth both for ourselves as fans and for the life of our Blue Jacket nation. Now, truth is not always a pleasant thing. But it is necessary now to make a choice, to choose between two admittedly regrettable, but nevertheless *distinguishable*, post-season environments: one where you make surgical change, and the other where you go *nuclear* and start from scratch.”

With all due apologies to Stanley Kubrick, the Columbus Blue Jackets are at a crossroads. The more vocal among the fan-base are calling for the “nuclear” option of blowing up the club. While a case can be made for going this route, I highly doubt those fans realize exactly what it would entail. After 11 years of mediocre hockey, are they fully prepared for another 3-5 years of the same during a rebuild? That is what “going nuclear”, in this context, means. It means another 3-5 years of missing the playoffs. It means another 3-5 years of not quite meaningful hockey. It means another 3-5 years of giving the “pundits” around the NHL more ammunition in their quest to snuff out hockey in Columbus.

I believe there is another way to do it.

Yes, major change has to happen. It’s needed to happen for some time. But, this change needs to be surgical in nature. I’ll start with the Forwards and address Defense and Goaltending later.
The following are the players that I believe should be kept. In parentheses is the ending year of their current contract. (All numbers courtesy of CapGeek) Rick Nash (2018), Jeff Carter (2022), Derick Brassard (2014), Ryan Johansen (2014), Antoine Vermette (2015), Tomas Kubalik (2013), Ryan Russell (2012), Derek Dorsett (2012), Mark Letestu (2013), Colton Gillies (2013) and Vinny Prospal (2012). These players represent the “core” of the Forward corps.

Most of you will think I’m full of canine excrement for keeping Prospal, but I’ll tell you why. He is second only to Rick Nash in points, going 9-21-30 in 44 games. He knows what it takes to be successful in the NHL. He’ll be 37 years old next month and, to use my favorite term, has the “intangibles” that this club needs. GM Scott Howson admits he made a mistake in not re-signing Michael Peca for that very reason. A veteran presence in the room with his work ethic is worth its’ weight in gold.

To those who say “Rick, why would he want to sign an extension here” and “he’s worth more in a trade”, I say sweeten the offer to him. A 1-2 year contract with a place within the organization when he retires would be the right move. He understands the need for surgical repair versus the “nuclear” option. How can this be a bad thing? He would bring a wealth of knowledge to a club that desperately needs it.

As for the other Forwards, I say trade them for what you can get. They all have some value and, for the most part, GM Scott Howson has proven adept at making trades. In parentheses is the ending year of their current contract and dollar amount. Kristian Huselius (2012, $4.75M), RJ Umberger (2017, $4.6M), Samuel Pahlsson (2012, $2.65M), Jared Boll (2012, $725K), Derek MacKenzie (2012, $600K), Dane Byers (2012, $550K) all need to go. Umberger would bring the biggest return from this group, by far. At this point, bring up some of the kids from the clubs AHL affiliate, the Springfield Falcons to give them playing time in the NHL. The key is to let them play.

As for the Defense, the keepers would be (ending year of current contract in parentheses): James Wisniewski (2017), Fedor Tyutin (2018), John Moore (2014), Nikita Nikitin (2012) and David Savard (2013). These five players represent the core of the Defense and have proven that they belong here.

The defensemen that need to go are (ending year of contract, dollar amount in parentheses): Marc Methot (2015, $3M), Radek Martinek (2012, $2.2M), Grant Clitsome (2013, $1.25M) and Aaron Johnson (2012, $550K). Of this group, Methot would bring the biggest return. Once again, there are players in the AHL that can be called up to get experience.

And now to tackle that perennial shortcoming in Columbus, the Goaltending issue. The keepers (forgive the pun) should be Curtis Sanford (2012) and Mark Dekanich (2012). I’m not saying these two are your starter and back-up, just that they should be kept within the organization. It’s time for Steve Mason (2013, $2.9M) to go. This ship has sailed and to keep him would serve no purpose other than to prolong the agony. The old cliché does hold water, “a change of scenery will do him good”. The organization and fans have been more than patient with Mason, in the hopes that his “game” would come back. Alas, it has not. Thus, it is time to part ways with him.

This leaves 16 players, not including goalies, on the roster and is a surgical approach to re-tooling the club. The players I have suggested be kept all hold value in a rebuild and have proven their worth moving forward. While I know that Umberger is a fan favorite, his game seems to have stagnated. The other roster spots can be filled with short term signings and call-ups.

In regards to the coaching position, I’d like to see what Todd Richards can do between now and the end of the season before making a determination on him.

While this might seem personal, it is not. I have met and interviewed most of these players and they are all nice guys. But, the NHL is a business. The measure of success in this business is winning. The core of this club has the skill and with some re-tooling, they can take the next step and start winning. There is no need to go “nuclear”. The fans might think that’s the only way to make this club successful. To that I say, be careful what you wish for.

DBJs 5 Thoughts on Game 44: San Jose

Tonight the Columbus Blue Jackets ended up losing to the San Jose Sharks 2-1, a repeat of their road game last week.  The Dark Blue Jacket's thoughts on this game are as follows:

1. The Better Team Won - No shame in losing to San Jose this way.  This is a well constructed club ready to challenge for the Stanley Cup.  In spite of what we fans want, the CBJ is not in the same position.  Injuries are no excuse, they are simply a test of the depth of a hockey club.  The Jackets are being tested hard now, with key personnel losses.  The youngsters from Springfield are showing up well, but they are youngsters.  At the end of the day, the veteran team won, in spite of how well the home team played.

2. Good Crowd - Announced attendance is 16,582.  That on top of 14 k for last nights game.  No illusions here folks.  This isn't a playoff charge.  Good clean fun is good clean fun, and the home squad showed up pretty well for this one.  To LeBrun and Company, and the gutless 'anonymous GM' who hypothesized that the NHL should buy this team and fold it:  "[blog guidelines which indicate that Grandma can read the blog without blushing preclude the publication of this word] you!!"  This is a hockey market.  We are coming for you.  It may take us a long time, but we are coming.

Friday, January 13, 2012

DBJs 5 Thoughts on Game 43: Phoenix

Tonight, just over 14,000 braved the cold to see our Blue Jackets defeat the Phoenix Coyotes 4-3 for Todd Richards' first win as head coach and first win on home ice. For the Coyotes, it was their 5th loss in 6 games and for the Jackets, the game marked their 12th victory on the season.

With the Blue Jackets fielding a team made up of less than half of their original roster, due to injury, trade or trips to Springfield, many fans were unsure of what we'd get. It was great to see statistics hold true for just one night where Phoenix was the team who's behavior could be predicted by past performance in the early periods in the game and not us.

1. Its a great night to be named Derek. Or Derick. You get my point. With my obvious fandom of Derek Dorsett well documented, it was a fantastic sign of life from the team to see Derek Dorsett awarded the "A" for only the second time in his career. Dorse played a solid game, and, one thing that may have been omitted from the tv broadcast - it was Derek Dorsett who immediately went to the net to grab the puck after Ryan Russell's first career goal. That's cool. Later, Coach Richards would comment that Dorse "...(has) a winning attitude" and "...that's what we need...". For a team who's heart has been long questioned this season, it seemed to provide a spark to both the team and the fan base to see the A awarded to one of our most gritty and dedicated players.  (My bias acknowledged ;) ) Speaking of spark...

Derick Brassard returned to the first line, and exploded from his previous Arniel-imposed confinement. His skill was clearly on display - not only in the offensive zone with a beauty of a top shelf goal, but also with significant defensive efforts. We saw Brass often with 17:17 of TOI including the last minute of the game. It was Brass who laid flat on the ice to block one of the final desparation shots from the 'Yotes who had seemed to take over on momemtum. Brass was awarded the first star of the game and, as Coach Richards would say "What frames this game is the Derick Brassard block at the end." Great to see this player seemingly hint to a return to form. Let's hope his play, effort and leadership on the ice continue!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

New Sheriff in Town

Todd Richards was an authoritative voice in his 1st practice
Todd Richards ran his first practice for the Columbus Blue Jackets today.  The difference was palpable.  Richards was firm and authoritative throughout the practice, and he clearly has some things he wants to change.  If a drill wasn't started the way he wanted it, he'd stop it and make them start over.  He worked the players hard.

It seems clear that he has changes in mind in defensive zone coverage, as well as on the offensive side.  A 5 on 5  D zone drill late in the practice got spirited, and he jumped in, insisting that the players on offense not concede anything.  The pace quickly picked up.

From my seat half way up the lower bowl, I could clearly hear him (and my hearing is nothing to write home about) telling the centers to 'get out there, no lazy circles' and telling them that the coverage he wanted was going to be hard work.  I don't know how the players felt about it, but it was music to this fan's ears.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The "A List"

The pickings are slim this week, my friends. But we'll try for a few things to remember as relatively positive.

1. David Savard. As many have already said, I was pleased to see his performance after the call-up. I feel like he's definitely improved since we saw him in camp and during his first few games in the CBJ sweater. I'm thinking we see him up in the big leagues next season. Permanently. Its fun to be able to look to him game to game to see how he's progressing as a something that is still progressing towards a good goal.

2. Our AHL Affiliate. Yes folks, when our team is well....where it is....its nice to have a better performing AHL partner to distract our attention. The Springfield Falcons are currently riding a three game winning streak, are 5-4-0-1 in their last ten and wrapped up an exciting series against the Whale this weekend. If you followed along, there were fights, a shoot out, Dekanich's debut, many Cam Atkinson goals and well deserved celebration. These guys are part of our organization - why not pay attention to them as well?  Some good resources if you don't know them already: The Falcons on Twitter, super fan Katy, and for AHL plus a whole lot more, there's CBJ Prospects for all things "future Jacket" related.

3. We won against the Kings. Remember that? That was fun.

Ok guys - we're on to a new coach. We've got games coming up Friday and Saturday. I'll be in attendance for both - let's see what our boys bring to the ice!

Let's Go Jackets!!

DBJ's 5 Thoughts on Game 42: Chicago

Chicago 5 - Columbus 2
11-26-5, 5th in Central Div., 15th in Western Conf.
The Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Columbus by a score of 5-2 on Tuesday night in Todd Richards debut as the interim head coach of the Blue Jackets. For the Blackhawks, it snapped a four game winless streak. For the Blue Jackets it was the end of brutal four game road trip.

1. Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes Reeling from the firing of Scott Arniel and injuries to Mark Letestu (broken hand) and Jeff Carter (separated shoulder), the Blue Jackets limped into Chicago for the debut of Todd Richards behind the bench. Richards first order of business was to announce that under his watch playing time would have to be earned. The problem, at least for his first game, was that given the circumstances of losing two top six guys on the tail end of an extended road trip he didn't have a lot of options.

Richards' pairings shaped out like this: Nash-Brassard-Prospal (seems reasonable), Vermette-Johansen-Kubalik (yikes!), Umberger-Pahlsson-Dorsett (love it), and Boll-D-Mac-Russell (sure, why not). Clitsome was the healthy scratch on the blue line (hmmmm) and the pairings were Tyutin-Nikitin (no brainer), Moore-Methot (seems reasonable) and Savard-Johnson (and prayers). The results were about what you would expect. The Jackets were adept at moving the puck out of their zone and through the neutral zone, but once past the blue line they lacked cohesion and chemistry. Still, they showed some quickness and battled hard, keeping the Hawks from registering their second shot until 12:30 into the first period. They would go on to out-shoot the Hawks 34-25 for the game, but quality scoring chances were too few and far between to stay competitive with the Hawks.

Monday, January 9, 2012

So that's it

Out of ideas and way short on wins, Scott Arniel was shown the
door as head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
[Darn you, Columbus Blue Jackets, for dragging me out of my undisclosed location again.  Next time this happens, I'm taking someone quail hunting.]

So that's it.  The news is out.

The news is now a bit old, but it's still comment-worthy.  Scott Arniel has been "relieved of duties" as head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets.  Not fired, relieved of duties, which probably means that Arniel is going to be scouting KHL games in Magnitogorsk or something.

I will offer no eulogy on this blog for Arniel.  If you want to read what I and my compadres think of his performance as head coach, go read the last year and a half's blog posts.  It'll give you plenty to mull over.  Honestly, he might be a great guy (and I don't know that to be the case, but I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt), but he has not been anything resembling the coach that the Columbus Blue Jackets needs.

So that's it.  Buh-bye.


Scott Arniel was relieved of his duties as the coach for the Columbus Blue Jackets today, according to the Columbus Dispatch.  Arniel, hired in a coaching search at the end of the 2009-10 season finished with a record of 45-60-18.

Arniel was hired to bring an up-tempo, puck possession style of play to the CBJ after several years of playing a 'defense first' style of game.  He leaves a team that is still stuck in that transition, with part of the team built for a checking style they can still play (see the 1-0 victory over the LA Kings), and other parts of the team making an easier transition to that style (Letestu, Nikitin).  After playing well in spurts in the 2010-11 season (October, January), the team never really jelled in the 2011-12 season, in spite of significant off-season player personnel acquisitions.

I'm not sure the team ever really 'got it', whatever it was that Arniel was preaching, and the team lacked fluidity.  Arniel did teach them how to transition the puck well, and even in the disjointed loss against Anaheim last night they seemed to do that well.  But the team did not seem to be sure what he wanted them to do once they were out of the transition in the offensive zone, and they didn't seem to sure about what he wanted defensively either. And, Arniel did not receive the gift of solid goal tending.

DBJ's 5 Thoughts on Game 41: Anaheim

Anaheim 7 - Columbus 4
11-25-5, 5th in Central Division, 15th in Western Conference
[Edited by DBJ to correct the time/date stamp and get the blog in proper chronological order.  The author for this piece was Greg May.]

In the third game of this four game road trip, the Blue Jackets lost to the Anaheim Ducks by a score of 7-4. It was a wild one on several levels.

1. Why? That is the question many Blue Jackets fans were asking when they learned Steve Mason was getting the start over Curtis Sanford, who had just posted the team's first shutout of the season one night earlier against a red-hot L.A Kings team. Counting the San Jose game, his first game back since injuring his right hip two weeks ago, Sanford had stopped 68 of 70 shots on this roadie, a .971 save percentage.

Mason, on the other hand, hadn't started since riding herd on a kick-in-the-gut 4-2 loss to Washington at home on New Years Eve, a game in which he surrendered all four goals in the third period to eviscerate a 2-0 Jackets lead. For whatever reason (and who really cares what it was), Arniel opted to go with Mason against the Ducks. If Mason's New Year's resolution was not to give up four goals in a period again, it only lasted eight days.

Mason got beat every which way in the first period, giving up four goals on 16 shots. After letting in a high glove-side snapper by Andrew Cogliano off a juicy rebound, Mason proceeded to get beat high glove side again by Corey Perry, on a wrap-a-round by Teemu Selanne after it appeared Mason quit on the play and lost the puck behind the net, and finally on a five-hole wrister by Saku Koivu. I will add the usual caveats: the team came out flat, turned the puck over charitably and got outshot 16-8 in the first period. Still, even Arniel had seen enough of Mason at that point.

So, for those counting at home, that's 8 goals against on 24 shots for Mason in his last two periods. With Mark Dekanich now rehabbing in Springfield, the Blue Jackets might finally have a viable alternative to keeping Mason on the roster. As for the long term, here's something to consider that DBJ himself dug up (which he tweeted to me from his "undisclosed location'). Seems like a reasonable expenditure of a million and some change at this point, doesn't it?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

A message to opposing teams and their fans

Cut it out.

Stop feeling sorry for the Columbus Blue Jackets.  Stop expressing sympathy.  

This isn't toddler soccer.  This isn't tee-ball.  This is professional sports.  People are paid to win.  There are no participation ribbons.

Bring your A-games.  Thrash my team on the ice.  Trash talk to your heart's extents.  

That which will not kill us will make us stronger.  

Someday, hopefully soon, the Blue Jackets will get their act together and start winning.  Perhaps your not taking pity on Columbus will expedite this messy process.  

And when my team starts beating yours...well, you'll understand my exuberance.

- The Dark Blue Jacket

Saturday, January 7, 2012

DBJ's 5 Thoughts about Game 40, LA Kings

Curtis Sanford, with the Shut Out against LA
1. Curtis Sanford - Sanford pitches his first shut out as a Columbus Blue Jacket.  He was very, very solid tonight, as well as the defense in front of him.  Kings goalie Jonathan Quick is playing as well as any goal tender in the NHL right now.  The Jackets staked Sanford to a goal, and he made it stand up.  An outstanding effort.

2. No Rebounds - Sanford is obviously very much a part of this win.  Against San Jose, he struggled with his rebound control.  Not tonight, he swallowed every puck that came his way.  Excellent rebound control makes your D in front of you look really good.

3. Solid Team Defense - Honestly, I didn't think Scott Arniel could coach a game like this.  Props to him, and a very good job by the CBJ playing solid team defense.  I thought the pairing of Nikita Nikitin and Fedor Tyutin was very solid.  Savard and Moore had a couple of kinda shaky moments, but by and large played well.  Clitsome of course got the winner, and Methot played a solid game.  The forwards were blocking shots along with the D-men, and combined with Sanford's rebound control, the D looked really solid.  They were winning board battles all night, and you coulda sworn it was a Hitchcock team.  Well done boys!

Realignment, We Hardly Knew Ye

There hasn't been much good news for Blue Jackets fans during this sad season. One exception was realignment. Although the plans announced by the NHL were not exactly what the Blue Jackets wanted from a competitive standpoint, they did address to a large extent their biggest beef, going out west. The plan was a win for fans, giving them more games in their native time zone and the opportunity to see each team in the league play at Nationwide.

You can forget about it now. It isn't going to happen. The fans lose again. What's that? Please pass the salt? Sure, Aaron Portzline reported in the print version of the Saturday edition of the Columbus Dispatch that the Blue Jackets player rep, Mark Methot, voted against the realignment plan. (Strangely, that fact has been edited  out of the online version of the story.) If true, Blue Jackets fans can only assume that Methot's loyalties to the union and his teammates (he's supposed to be spaeaking for them as a whole) have a higher priority than his loyalties to the Blue Jackets organization and its fans. Stew on that for awhile. I guess we won't be hearing the old "time change" excuse on this road trip.

Friday, January 6, 2012

What Matters? Or...What. Matters.

[Author's note: Alison here - this is a cross-post from Heart of a Jacket, hope you enjoy!]

Recently, I've found myself quite dumbfounded by all things Blue Jackets. The main reasons why are obvious...I mean, not much more needs to be said about our team's performance this year. Obviously, building a successful hockey team isn't easy - or everyone would be doing it. However, there's been an inordinately large increase in the amount of grousing among fans that, more often than not, is causing me to just shut down Twitter and other communication forums, and I simply wish to ask us all to pause and consider what matters most to us as Blue Jackets Fans in a big picture kinda way. I'll go first.

Here's my list of what matters:

DBJ's 5 Thoughts On Game 39: San Jose

San Jose 2 - Columbus 1
10-24-5, 5th in Central Division, 15th in Western Conference
(While DBJ is on vacation for the next couple of weeks, the rest of us here on the team will be filling in with our 5 Thoughts. )

In the first of a four game road trip out west, the Blue Jackets lost to the San Jose Sharks by a score of 2-1 last night.

1. Dr. Jekkyl If you have watched the Blue Jackets at all this season, you are painfully aware of their propensity to go all Dr. Jekkyl and Mr Hyde on us. It usually happens in the third period. Last night it happened about 10 minutes into the game.

The Jackets took the ice and, as has often been the case, and as one might expect of a team coming off of a four day break, they looked explosive. They looked fast, fearless and frisky. San Jose couldn't match their energy and looked like a team that was on the second night of a back-to-back, which they were. The Blue Jackets scored their first goal of 2012 just 2:13 into the game when Antoine Vermette chased down a BIG rebound off of Shark's goalie Thomas Griesse (yet another backup) and found Mark Letestu behind the net, who quickly fed Vinnie Prospal with a slick behind the back pass. Prospal stuffed it home, 1-0 Jackets.

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?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The "A List"

Yep. I signed myself up for this thing...so here we go...I've found a few things to highlight, however brief...

1. John Moore. DH and I had the opportunity (and I do mean opportunity!) to meet this guy in person at the Tuttle Mall Blue Line before the holidays. The kid is intelligent, highly personable, way respectful and super nice. I couldn't say enough about him...until I watched him with focus in recent games. As many have already pointed out, his play is progressing at a good speed and I have been particularly impressed with his continued growth after losing his linemate and mentor, James Wisneiwski. Check out Jackets Report for some Johnny quotes that demonstrate his character in my opinion.

2. Dallas. Yeah, remember that game? That was fun. :) I hoped for 10 wins before the new year...at least we did it!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Logic, Flaws, and Strategy

Scott Howson, GM and Aaron Portzline of The Dispatch 
Ok, before I get started, I'd like to point out that the Flyers lost a third period lead to the Rangers tonight. It happens to other teams too (just not as often)!

Secondly, I guess I'd like to point out that I'm a glass half full kinda guy. When someone makes the commitment to come do the hockey thing with the Columbus Blue Jackets, I am generally on their side and wish them success, be they a certain Hall of Fame coach, or an AHL coach.  It's my team.  I want them to win and be successful.

It may come as mild shock to the casual reader, but things haven't really gone too well for the CBJ in 2011-12.  Thus, at the beginning of the New Year, it seems worthwhile to consider where we are, and where we might go with things in the upcoming year.

I guess lastly, I have the benefit of hindsight on a lot of this discussion.  I have generally supported the moves our General Manager has made (with the exception of firing a certain Hall of Fame Coach) at the time the moves were made.  The GM has the tough job, forecasting into the future to find the right combinations that will produce a winning franchise.  I have the easy job, looking into the past to see why it didn't work.  So my caveat is that I do not want to seem unduly critical, if there is such a thing for a last place team, but want to look at how the past might, and should, shape the future.

Glass Bangers, 1/2/12

A TV filled with bowl games that don't mean much to yours truly, combined with a dusting of snow on the ground in Central Ohio, makes now the perfect time to jot down some thoughts.

[CORRECTION: I misinterpreted a Twitter post from the Blue Jackets and have since removed the content related to it once a reader brought the fact to light.  Apologies for the error.]


"Hey, R.J., how's your French?"
With Scott Howson placing the yard sale ad in the paper, the rumor merchants are firing up their speculation over which Blue Jackets will be packing their bags for parts unknown.  It's perfectly understandable, considering how the team has performed going back into the latter part of the Ken Hitchcock era.  Something's got to change, and Howson appears to be sticking by His Man in Scott Arniel.

Just this weekend alone, I've seen the names of Derick Brassard, R.J. Umberger, Jared Boll and Rick Nash (!!) floated.  That Brassard's name popped up is not much of any surprise - he's been rumored to be on the block for weeks if not over a month.  And Brass, Umberger and Boll all lack No Trade Clauses in their contracts, making it relatively easy to move them.  Nash, on the other hand...

If the Nash rumors are floating because teams are calling and asking what it would take to obtain the CBJ captain, I'll suggest that there's no meaningful smoke or fire.  Any owner who found out that Nash was available and learned that his GM didn't at least make a phone call and kick the tires probably has grounds to fire the GM.

If, however, the Blue Jackets have approached Nash about waiving his NTC...wow.  That's a meaningful development.

(But why aren't any defensemen or goalies in the rumor mill?)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

DBJ's 5 Thoughts on Game 38: Washington

Washington 4 - Columbus 2
10-23-5, 5th in Central Division, 15th in Western Conference
In front of a sold-out crowd at Nationwide Arena on New Year's Eve, the Columbus Blue Jackets lost in regulation to the visiting Washington Capitals, 4-2.

1. CREATIVITY IN DEFEAT - Whereas the last collapse was a last second implosion, this one took the entire third period to develop.  The CBJ had a 2-0 lead going into the second intermission and gave up FOUR goals in the third period to not only lose, but lose big.  As they say, this was a team loss.  The entire team.  Coaches and players.