Wednesday, May 30, 2012

True dat

This Tweet, from Kevin Allen at USA Today, struck a chord:

Yup.  And it's the same in every town, for pretty much every sport.  If you win, people want to be a part of the experience. If you don't win, eventually they find other stuff to entertain them.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

What does Michael Chaput tell me about Scott Howson?

I don't place a lot of weight on the Blue Jackets prospect development system, and that's for a couple of reasons: 1) I only have so much time in the day and don't believe that I could analyze and provide coherent commentary at the level I expect of myself (If prospect coverage interests you, go check out Twitter's @cbjprospects.); 2) Considering the size of the 23-man (max) roster at the NHL level, there are way too many misses (as opposed to hits) to interest me.  Which speaks volumes to my lack of interest in the NHL draft, something I'll be discussing more on DBJ Plus in the not-too-distant future.

I'm interested in the wins and losses in Columbus, the Stanley Cup playoffs in Columbus...not so much the CHL major junior playoff fortunes of the, say, Shawinigan Cataractes.  Yet, strangely, I'm being drawn into the recent Memorial Cup championship of that very team to further discuss the Columbus Blue Jackets.

In the closing hours before the 2011 NHL trade deadline, the Columbus Blue Jackets traded forward Tom Sestito to the Philadelphia Flyers for forwards Michael Chaput and Greg Moore.  The following video is of Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson addressing the media at the conclusion of the trade deadline - and while the majority of the press conference revolved around the Rusty Klesla trade to Phoenix for Scottie Upshall and Sami Lepisto, he does touch on Moore...and especially roughly the 7:35 mark:

After admitting that the CBJ coveted yet missed out on the kid in the draft (picking Ryan Johansen, Dalton Smith and the now-released [!] Petr Straka ahead of him), Howson said, "Chaput was the key to the deal." He then thumbnailed Chaput's performance in Lewiston, Maine.  All in all, a pretty good overview of a young player who was still had a year left in the CHL.

(Digression: Unlike me, I think it wise that Howson be conversant in all aspects of the prospect development chain.  It's an important component of his job, especially when the NHL club isn't performing well.)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Glass Bangers: Memorial Day Weekend

Derek Dorsett - Practicing Hard and Earning a New Contract
Rangers and the Devil Wrenches (Mrs. Gallos nickname for the Devils) square off tonight in Game 6.  Should be compelling hockey.  Its been a somewhat active week in Columbus Blue Jackets land.  But first ...

The Dark Blue Jacket wants to take this moment to acknowledge the sacrifice of American Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen as well as their families in their never ending task of protecting our country.  We salute you!

Spc. Levi Hoover, please know I always keep you in my head and my heart.  Your Dad says the fishing is good where you are.  I pray it is so.

So anyway, I'm at work the other day, sitting in a boat in the middle of a lake (I have cool work!) and I get a text from my buddy Paul.  It says, Methot and Second to Edmonton for the First.  And I am thinking holy frijole!  I'm in the middle of a lake, and Howson makes a move!  So I quickly text him to see if it is speculation, or actually happened.  Whew!  It turns out he was bouncing it off me to see what I thought.  I love this kind of stuff in the off season.

My thoughts on that?  (Pauses for a moment to think of a way to say this that is acceptable in case grandma reads the blog) Pull vacuum on an unspecified, but implied to be derogatory, object Edmonton!!  That's your problem!

And here's why ...

Monday, May 21, 2012

DBJ Plus: Our story thus far

It's been a couple of weeks since we launched Dark Blue Jacket Plus at, and I figured that enough time has passed and enough material has accumulated to offer up a little recap.

Just so the readers know, the DBJ Plus posts are not recycled material from this blog.  This is all-new content that is intended to complement the work that my friends and I are doing here at DBJ.  That's not to say that someday I won't cross-post something particularly compelling or interesting...but I haven't done so yet, and it won't happen often (if ever).

Long story short: Click the links in the blue faux-ice block at the top if you want to see the rest of what I'm up to.

That being said, let's look at what's gone down over at the online home of the television broadcast partner of the Columbus Blue Jackets...

DBJ's plea to the CBJ ticket office

I'll be good this year, I promise.  Nothing like last year.

All I ask is that the Columbus Blue Jackets ticket office give their partial season ticket package holders at least 24 hours before the "select-a-seat" event to peruse the different combinations of quarter- or half-season packages.  It is inconvenient (impossible?) to consider a handful of scheduling options as you walk in the door for the "Select A Seat" event when you're more focused on trying to identify the seats in which you want to watch your Blue Jackets hockey.

Surely the NHL can give the Blue Jackets time to put packages together and promote them (web, email...I don't care) to package holders.  And really, is 24 hours advance preview too much to ask?

Otherwise, the team might as well just scrap the fixed partial season packages altogether and just flex plan everything...because, speaking from experience, I found the fixed packages being handed to me when walking in the door were so much wasted paper.

There, I'm done.  Nothing more on the matter until the seats are picked...that is, unless the team sends out info in advance.  (I'll be happy to thank them publicly for the courtesy.)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The long, hot summer

I read with great interest the fan reaction to the Columbus Blue Jackets' hiring of Todd Richards as "permanent" head coach.  (Not that it matters for this piece, but my piece at DBJ+ shows that I don't mind the hire.)

Seems like, from what I've read, there are a few aspects to the hire:
  1. Was Todd Richards the right guy?  Other candidates surely were available; in fact, CBJ GM Scott Howson said in the Richards presser that 8-10 potential candidates called the team to express interest.  Then, there's the question of whether other coaching shoes were still to drop (like the Oilers' release of Tom Renney today).  Lastly, there's the whole question of whether keeping the coach is truly indicative of heightened expectations.
  2. Should the formal interview process have been skipped?  Howson revealed that while the 8-10 people contacted the team, they did not conduct any interviews.  Does Richards' 18-21-2 record deserve a fast track to the job without even cursory interviews of other candidates?  Is the current CBJ management so secure in their decision-making when it comes to coaching hires, and does their track record warrant such confidence?
  3. Why is Scott Howson still around?  I've gone over Howson at length, but the fact that he ran the press conference opens all the slow-healing wounds of a healthy contingent of the CBJ fanbase.  
  4. What was Craig Patrick doing there?  Putting aside his odd performance at the presser, there's the real question of why his presence was required in the first place.  Is Howson in charge, or isn't he?  Does Patrick's presence undermine Howson's legitimacy?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Прощай и спасибо, Сергей

Fedorov as a Blue Jacket
(from The JacketsBlog)
I'm a couple days late on this one, but it appears that former Blue Jackets forward Sergei Fedorov will be retiring from playing hockey to take over as general manager of the KHL's CSKA Moscow squad.

CSKA Moscow is the present-day incarnation of the classic Soviet Red Army team, which Fedorov played for before coming to the NHL and the Detroit "Red Army" Wings of the 1990's.

On a personal note, the presence of Fedorov on the roster got this former Red Wings fan into the Nationwide Arena seats.  That begat my CBJ fanhood, which got me into blogging about the team...and so on and so on.  So blame Fedorov for what you read here.

Seriously, congratulations to a sure-fire Hockey Hall of Famer on his great playing career.  Best of luck with CSKA Moscow!

Monday, May 14, 2012

DBJ's 5 Thoughts on the Todd Richards Hire

Todd Richards at his first practice as Head Coach in 2012
By now, most of you are aware that the Columbus Blue Jackets  hired Todd Richards to be the Head Coach moving forward into the 2012-13 season.  The first domino in a long off season has fallen.

On a personal level, I think I like this move.  There were things I saw out of the players down the stretch were unlike things I have seen from prior CBJ teams when playing out the string.  This was a team that did not even know how to pass to itself early in the year, and they finished with solid, strong, fundamentally sound hockey.  Which is a good segue to our 5 thoughts:

1.) It's like Deja vu all over again (Y. Berra) -
The choice of hiring an interim coach after a mid season coaching change has been a matter for Blue Jackets senior management 3 times, involving Gerard Gallant, Claude Noel, and Todd Richards.  Gallant and Richards moved on as head coach after the process, and Noel lost out to Arniel (and Boucher).  I think the way things turned out with Gerard had a big influence on the decision not to hire Noel.  Gerard was hired as interim after Doug MacLean stepped out from behind the bench, and the CBJ finished the season reasonably well.  MacLean gave him the full time job in the off season, and intertwined around the lockout, Gallant lead the team to the best record to date in franchise history.  After a poor start, which actually looks pretty good against this year's steaming hot mess, Gallant was let go.  I think CBJ senior management felt that it would be repeating history to hire Noel.

Richards comes into the job with a much stronger resume.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

NBA in Columbus? Fine with me.

Word out of the Dispatch this AM suggests that Mayor Michael Coleman has sent a letter of interest to the National Basketball Association that promotes Nationwide Arena as a potential home for an NBA team.

Good for Coleman.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

F.A.N.S. offers up 1,002 signatures to CBJ

[Received in my email inbox this afternoon...presented without editing.]

F.A.N.S. Announces Over 1,000 Signatures on Petition to Remove Priest/Howson 

For A New Start (F.A.N.S.), the group behind the January 28 Fan Protest in front of Nationwide Arena, have sent a letter to Columbus Blue Jackets majority owner John P. McConnell along with copies of petitions signed by 1,002 fans of the Columbus Blue Jackets demanding that Mike Priest and Scott Howson be immediately terminated as President and General Manger, respectively, of the team. 

Columbus, Ohio April 9, 2012 -- The organizers of For A New Start (or “F.A.N.S.”), have provided copies of the petitions signed by 1,002 fans of the Columbus Blue Jackets demanding the immediate termination of Mike Priest and Scott Howson as President and General Manager, respectively, of the Columbus Blue Jackets hockey franchise in an open letter to the team’s majority owner, John P. McConnell. The open letter raises concerns about the current management team’s ability to make a number of important decisions facing the team this off-season.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

2011-12 with the Blue Jackets: One Season, Multiple Perspectives

To make it easy for DBJ readers to find 2011-12 Columbus Blue Jackets season in review posts, we've collected them into this single post. Enjoy!

2011-12 WITH THE BLUE JACKETS: One Season, Multiple Perspectives
What a Long Strange Trip It's Been*
Andy's CBJ Season in Review
DBJ's 2011-12 Season In Review
Part I
Part II
Part III
Part One
Part Two
Preface & Games 1-10 -- Games 11-20
Games 21-30 -- Games 31-40
Games 41-50 -- Games 51-60
Games 61-70 -- Games 71-82
Concluding thoughts

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Knights of Ni(emi)!!

See if Roger the Shrubber will give you
a goal tender!
Bring us a .... shrubbery!!!

Something nice, not too fancy.  With a little fence and a nice path down the middle.

So demand the Knights Who Say Ni!

However, in CBJ land, we are no longer the Knights who say Ni, we are the Knights who say 'Get us some %$#%^^*$# Goal Tending!!!'

(Stick tap to Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  If you haven't seen this movie you are morally depraved and a social leper.  Do it now!  Of course if you have seen it you are probably morally depraved too, but that's a different issue!)

But can it stop the puck, oh Knights Who Say Ni?
So my buddy Paul sends me a text out of the blue that says, would you trade Nash for Niemi and Couture?

After consulting Jeff Little's post on Goalies over on Ten Minute Misconduct, I'd say I'd have to think real seriously about the offer if it was on the table.  We'd be sending our 'star power' out of town, but we'd be upgrading our goal tending.

What do you think??  Let us know!


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Off night: A hockey guy watches lacrosse and soccer

(I'm in a bit of a holding pattern as Dark Blue Jacket Plus gets set up at Fox Sports Ohio.  So kindly permit this digression.)

Columbus has a new pro sports team in town, and
they played their first game over the weekend.
Last night was May 5, or "NHL Fan Date Night".  Thanks to the Kentucky Derby, there were no NHL Stanley Cup playoffs games after the 12:30PM game concluded.  And wouldn't you know, Mrs. DBJ was bushed from a huge week of work and turned in early.  So there I was, at 9PM with nothing to do.

I decided to check out the inaugural (Columbus) Ohio Machine game in Major League Lacrosse.  The game was on ESPN3, so I hooked my laptop up to my TV and enjoyed a competitive first half (11-9 Chesapeake) and cringed my way through the second half (final score was 23-11 Chesapeake).  The Machine had better be hoping that their forthcoming college graduate roster additions provide some defense and goalie help, because that team was as weak as a Scott Arniel-coached Blue Jackets squad on the back end.  They seem to have some scoring punch (and a highlight reel attacker named Chazz Woodson), but it's really hard to show that off when the play is always happening in your end.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Bobby Lu, Bobby Loooooooo!

Ian Clark lectures the goalies in training camp, 2011
Jack Johnson Scores to win it in overtime!!  JMFJ coming through for team USA!  USA!  USA! USA! Nice overtime goal, Jack running the point on the power play.

But I digress.

Tis the time of year for fruitless speculation, as there are still other teams playing, and our players are over representing their country at the worlds.  So, without further ado, we go to random discussion about the goal tender position, a position in dire need of an upgrade for the 2012-13 season.

I could put some serious thought into this, but Jeff Little, over at 10 Minute Misconduct has already done so with this post on the goalie position.  Its not like I have anything to add, other than ...

Roberto Luongo, Ryan Kessler and Burrows for Nash, Mason (salary dump) and Umberger.

What do you think?  How would you equalize this deal?  Luongo has 10 years left on a hefty contract, Nash and Umberger is overpaying for Kessler and Burrows, but we're giving them Mason.  See Jeff's commentary on Luongo for a better feel for this deal.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

The arena scoreboard arms race is on

An artist's rendition of the new HD scoreboard
at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, which is rumored to be the
model for the new Nationwide Arena scoreboard.
Don't look now, but we're in the midst of a Golden Age for arena scoreboards.  Either that or an arms race.  Or maybe it's the same thing.

(While I know it wasn't the first, I still blame Jerry Jones and his 60-yard-long HD scoreboards at his $1 billion Dallas football palace for raising the competitive ante to current levels.  But I blame Jerry Jones for a lot of things.)

In fact, new scoreboards (or should I say "screens" to be more accurate?) appear to have become a quid pro quo for hosting the NHL All-Star Game. Ottawa got theirs in time to host the game last year, and the Blue Jackets are on line to get their own with the All-Star Game coming in January.

Jack Johnson: Team USA Captain once again

I should have taken a practice
snapshot of Jack Johnson...sigh.
Just a quick one:  The Blue Jackets confirmed with the IIHF that the CBJ's own Jack Johnson will be the Team USA captain for this season's World Championships.  This apparently will be the second time he's been named captain - the other being 2010.

While the World Championships are looked at as the 'hockey NIT' by those who find the NHL's Stanley Cup playoffs to be a slightly more skilled brand of hockey, some things don't necessarily demand technical "skill" per se.  One of those is leadership, so I'll join those who have been impressed that Johnson was selected to lead the squad in this tournament.

Looking a touch closer to home, I note that the above CBJ Twitter post refers to Johnson as "Captain America."  While it's fun shorthand for those on the fan side of the fence, it's an interesting choice of words from his employer.  It's even more interesting when I keep hearing "under the radar" scuttlebutt that the Blue Jackets are seriously looking at making Johnson the next captain once Rick Nash gets shipped off to parts unknown.  Is it safe to say that we have a clubhouse leader for something other than the dreaded CBJ Green Jacket?

Congrats, Jack, for the honor - and good luck in the tournament!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

What a Long Strange Trip It's Been: Part III

Scott Arniel

When last we left this strange and terrible saga, I had just surrendered a substantial pile of my hard earned coin to the federal government, I still had major work to do on the golf league handicapping spreadsheet, and a strange level of angst had crept over me.  I’ve been fighting this angst on and off since the trade deadline, and the weight of the depressing 2011-12 season overcame my natural glass half-full optimism. 

I feel that angst lifting somewhat now; have a few rounds of golf under my belt; and have started to think about mixing and matching player combinations for next year, a futile but entertaining pastime.  We will get to that soon, but first some unfinished business.

When part II of this series ended, Scott Arniel was using a four day schedule break as a mini-camp to totally change the defensive approach of the team, which heretofore had been nonexistent.  The endless parade of odd-man rushes which had shattered the season, as well as the confidence and health of the goal tending corps had to be stopped.  This was to be done by substituting a 1 man forecheck for the previous 2 man forecheck, thus keeping an extra forward up high in the offensive zone to help slow down counter-attacks.  This philosophical change resulted in a mild run of sort of successful hockey.  My personal belief regarding this run is that it was a switch to a system that the players could at least partially believe in, and felt had some chances of winning.  Yet the NHL competition is adept at adjusting, and soon Arniel’s peculiar personnel decisions reasserted themselves, and losing hockey ensued once again.  The first span of hockey is embodied in DBJ’s recap of games 21-30.  Once the NHL had a moment to adjust, you got games 31-40, and a 2-7-1 record.  

Arniel's tenure was nearly done.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Stop It Right There! Announcing DBJ Plus at Fox Sports Ohio

"90 percent of life is just showing up." 
- Woody Allen

My homage to the old "NHL on FOX" logo
In my case, that means writing a Columbus Blue Jackets fan blog for three seasons now.  Over that time, I've been approached by pretty much every hockey blog network around to "affiliate" or write for them.  I never could find an arrangement that was more attractive than keeping my little blog as is.

Back at the beginning of the season, I was approached by Fox Sports Ohio to somehow "affiliate" my blog with them.  Unlike past offers, this one was interesting for obvious reasons - this is the Blue Jackets' television partner that we're talking about! - so we talked about what that affiliation would look like.  We considered a couple different models and hashed out details over the past season.  The model we decided upon is what we're going to call Dark Blue Jacket Plus.  DBJ Plus will be a first of its kind at (and, I've been led to believe a rarity if not a first of its kind in the entire network of Fox Sports websites), a straight-up fan blog devoted to the team I enjoy so much.  In essence, it'll be a lot of what you've come to expect and enjoy here, just over at Fox Sports Ohio.

We're calling it DBJ Plus because it is a true "plus" for all involved.  The DBJ blog as you know it isn't going away.  The game recaps (or whatever we decide to do) will continue here.  The analysis and commentary will continue here.  I am, however, going to write a couple of pieces a week for Fox at DBJ Plus - and offer links to those pieces on this blog so you don't miss anything.  See?  A plus for all involved...and hopefully a plus for you, the readers.

Thanks for joining us at the DBJ blog.  I hope you enjoy DBJ Plus as soon as it comes online (which should be soon!).  Go Jackets!