Saturday, June 30, 2012

Reshaping, not rebuilding

I have no photo of Jared Boll.
As in, never have taken a photo of Jared Boll.
For those who were not among the half-million Central Ohio utility customers without power (and, I suppose, no means to recharge their mobile devices), news came down that the Columbus Blue Jackets signed forward Jared Boll to a two-year, $2.1 million contract extension.

A frequent on-ice pugilist (and occasional victor), Boll played in 54 games last year.  His playing time was limited due to broken thumb from slugging Carolina's Byron Allen in the preseason (out from October 1 through November 10th) and a broken foot from blocking a shot against Dallas (out from February 10th through March 11th).  He had two goals, one assist and 126 PIMs last season.  He now is on track to average over a million bucks a seasons.  Yup.

As I type, the Blue Jackets have 22 men on their roster.  Eight of those players (Boll included) have seen a whopping four different people serve as their head coach since the beginning of the 2009-10 season.  21 of the 22 experienced the 2011-12 season in Columbus first-hand.  As it stands, it's hard to see how this team isn't headed for anything meaningfully different than the 18-21-2 pace that we saw during the interim head coaching tenure of Todd Richards.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Hey graphic designers, about CannonFest...

Permit me to use to blog for some housekeeping this morning: 

Part of my role in co-organizing the 2012 edition of CannonFest involves - soo-prise, soo-prise - the creation of graphic content for the event.  At this point, that means the creation of a logo...something that needs to get done sooner than later.

It's been suggested that we might want to try creating some CannonFest logo gear - t-shirts at minimum - with proceeds going to the Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation.  I like the idea.  And my co-organizers thought that crowd-sourcing this project as a contest would be a cool idea.  

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Steve Mason and Spring Football

Ian Clark lecturing during 2011-12 training camp
You might ask yourself, 'what in 'tarnation does Steve Mason have to do with Spring Football?'  And I would say, 'the answer is obvious, Ian Clark'.  At which point the discerning reader might discreetly start punching in '911' to call the guys to bring the coat with the long sleeves.  And, as I write this, I gird myself for the firestorm of criticism.  But, I am one of those glass half full guys, admittedly.  But please keep in mind as a season ticket holder, I've seen A LOT of Steve Mason performances, in person.  I've shouted at a few of 'em on TV too.  I get it.  It would be best to have the goal tending situation be locked up solid.  The theory that Mason has been given plenty of rope is sound.  But there's 30 teams that need solid goal tending and only about 15 legit starting goal tenders, according to Vancouver's coach.  And there's that contract!  Eeesh!  What does Mason make this year, $3 million??  So we have to face up to the fact that it's entirely possible he will be here all year.  And that he is only 23 years old.  When did Tim Thomas bloom into a Vezina trophy winner?   And to throw in a rhetorical question, would you consider Tim Thomas to be a draft bust?  But I digress.

I have to get back into the importance of Spring Football.

Could Jack Johnson Be the Blue Jackets Rod Langway?

In 1982 the Washington Capitals were coming off yet another season where they failed to make the NHL postseason. The organization had been in existence for eight years and had yet to make the playoffs even once. This was at a time 16 of the league's 21 teams went to the postseason. The Capitals organization lacked leadership both off and on the ice and there was serious talk of relocating the struggling franchise. The Summer of 1982 helped turn things around for the Capitals, mostly due to two significant, gutsy moves. First the Capitals hired a young David Poile to fill their general manager opening. Poile was a former standout player at Northeastern University who joined the Atlanta Flames as an administrative assistant shortly after graduating and worked his way up to assistant general manager. Blue Jackets fans probably know Poile better as the man who has been the general manager of the Nashville Predators since their inception. Poile wasted no time making over the team and swung a huge trade within weeks of being hired. The Capitals sent team captain Ryan Walter and Rick Green to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for Rod Langway, Brian Engblom, Doug Jarvis, and Craig Loughlin. The trade was instrumental in changing the face of the organization. Poile had this to say:

"This trade makes the Capitals competitive," David Poile, Washington's new general manager, said at a news conference at Capital Centre. "We've added four quality players. For the first time in Capitals history, we have a defense."
Sound familiar? How about this quote from Langway:

"Washington got a great deal. Here I know I'll have a chance to bloom."
My favorite quote belongs to Engblom, who was in the Blue Jackets television booth as a color analyst after his playing career ended before moving to OLN and now NBC Sports Network:

"Winning and losing are kind of trends," Engblom said. "You've got to break one to get into the other. It's time for the Capitals to break a trend."
This trade meant everything to the organization. They shipped out two very good players who went on to have success in Montreal (yes, both teams came out well in the trade) and received back the foundation they built their team on, namely defense. Langway was named captain before he had even played a game in a Capitals sweater. It didn't hurt that the team had also just drafted a young defenseman by the name of Scott Stevens who would make an impact as an 18 year-old rookie. The Capitals made the playoffs for the first time the next season, and didn't miss them again for another fourteen years. Although the team has still never hoisted the Stanley Cup, the Capitals shed their poor image and losing tradition in just one season.

I am not comparing Jack Johnson the player to Rod Langway, or Ryan Murray to Scott Stevens or Scott Howson to David Poile. Johnson's defense would have to improve quite a bit to reach Langway's level at his worst, Murray hasn't stepped foot on NHL ice yet, and Howson... tries hard. My point is the parallels are there. The Blue Jackets have a poor image around the league and the only way to turn that around is to start winning games. The team is ready to ship out its captain Rick Nash, and the players they bring in from that trade should help form the core of this team. This trade could be the turning point of this franchise, and right now it's on Scott Howson to get the best deal he can get. I was concerned the way this was dragging out until I read Elliote Friedman's must-read 30 Thoughts column today where he had this to say about the situation:

9. Have always believed Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson's best opportunity to deal Rick Nash will be after Parise's decision. Think some other teams hoped their first-round picks would really appeal to Columbus, but that wasn't the case. My guess is that Nash and Bobby Ryan, if Anaheim wants to do it, get dealt after Parise signs. If Pittsburgh doesn't get Parise, Nash makes sense -- assuming it has what the Blue Jackets want.
 I'm glad to see that Howson didn't value first-round picks in this draft. It was a shallow draft outside the top three, and neither the Oilers nor the Canadiens would have been potential trading partners for Nash. It seems Howson is hedging on either the Rangers or Penguins (or both) missing out on Zach Parise and then feeling pressure to up their firepower, thus overpaying for Nash. It's a sound strategy, unless the opposing team's GMs don't bite or they get their fix somewhere else, like Anaheim. I don't think this team can start training camp with Rick Nash as the captain and expect things to go smoothly, so Howson better hope his patience pays off. If it does the organization could reap the benefit for years to come and gain some respectability in the process. If not, the results could be messy.

Monday, June 25, 2012

2012 NHL Draft Party

On Friday night the Blue Jackets opened Nationwide Arena to the masses for a Draft Party to coincide with the first round of the NHL Entry Draft. I decided it would be a nice opportunity to take my three young sons down for some (free) fun. I also took my camera which means I am going to subject everyone to my questionable photography skills. Hopefully this isn't as boring as your uncle's slideshow about his vacation to North Dakota. The doors were set to open at 6 pm, we arrived around 5:40 and parked for free in the attached garage, nice! We weren't sure what sort of crowd to expect and were greeted with quite the line.

I was impressed by the turnout, I'm sure having the second pick in the draft, the possibility of a Nash trade, the free admission, and having three players on hand for autographs lured most of them. Being somewhere near the last of the admission line meant we missed out on the free shirts handed out to the first 500 fans. I'm not great at estimating crowds but I would put turnout well over a thousand. Once inside the arena we were funneled down to the arena floor where the event was set up. Highlights included a bounce house, floor hockey for the kids, photo-ops with the cannon, a zamboni, and inside one of the the penalty boxes. The highlight of the activities was a self-guided locker room tour.

In the locker room tour they also had a really neat area where they allowed people to try on hockey equipment. My kids got quite the kick out of it. Here is my son trying on the same size pants Rick Nash wears.

The highlight and lowlight of the evening involved Cam Atkinson. I was watching them play ball hockey when I realized one of the people helping to run the event was Atkinson himself.

It was really cool seeing Atkinson interacting with the kids at the event, mine had no idea who he was until they were done playing and I told them. Apparently my youngest son asked him to make sure nobody took his backpack! The lowlight however was the way the autograph sessions were handled. After playing ball hockey right next to him my kids decided they also wanted his autograph. To get his autograph we were herded into a section of seats where we sat and waited for his time-slot to begin. We were informed we were at the end of the line so there was a chance we might not get an autograph. My kids decided they wanted to wait anyway. Unfortunately we never got the opportunity to get the autograph and my kids were upset (even though I reminded them of their own decision to wait. Kids! Fun!). During our wait the draft commenced and with the second pick, as everyone knows, we took Everett Sivertips defenseman Ryan Murray.

The crowd cheered, some were probably disappointed we didn't get Yakupov, some were happy we got Murray, everyone was happy we didn't totally screw it up. The Blue Jackets did a nice job putting on a free party that had some nice elements and some poorly designed ones too. Hopefully next season the Blue Jackets will throw another party, and hopefully our pick won't be so high.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Hangover XII: Post Draft Musings

The draft is over and done.  In it's annual recruitment of strength, the CBJ appeared to be following a model that perhaps they should have adopted a while back, building the back end.  Ryan Murray, a defenseman was taken with the second pick.  I would characterize this as a relatively low risk move.  He's gonna turn out to be a fine NHL defenseman, the only real question being how good will he be.  At this point in his career, he doesn't appear to be an offensive power house, but that's ok.

The next two picks were quite a bit riskier, because we used relatively high picks to select goal tending.  If you read your homework assignments last weekend, you know that odds of success with a late round pick on a goal tender are about the same as a higher pick.  You just don't know with goal tenders.  But the two young men added, Oscar Dansk and Joonas Korpisalo with the 31st and 62nd picks will help bolster the position for quite some time.  Since it was an area of organizational  need, these will help over the long term.

In the next two round the CBJ came away with 2 Right Wings, another area of organizational need, by drafting Josh Anderson and Daniel Zaar.  These gents  will continue on a developmental path for several years, and we'll see where they end up.

The CBJ finished up the drafting part of the weekend by drafting Gianluca Curcuruto, a defenseman with a really great name.  He's already one of my favorite players.  Again, he will continue on the long slow path of a developing defenseman, and we'll see where he takes it.

With the final episode of the draft, the CBJ fired four scouts.  More turn over in the organization, with almost none of the originals left.  This seems like closing the barn door after the horse got out to me, but it is also an area that I feel Craig Patrick could influence a lot.  He likely has a wide  circle of people who he knows, and we may be able to draw some experienced scouting talent into the organization over time.  This is a move that has been a long time coming.

For more on these players, see the Cannon, which has excellent draft day coverage.

The shelves have been restocked with youth.  We have a brief respite, and then we are on to Free Agency, commencing July 1.


Friday, June 22, 2012

The Blue Jackets Select: Ryan Murray

With the second pick of the NHL draft, the Columbus Blue Jackets Defenseman Ryan Murray of the Everett Silvertips of the WHL.  A solid, defenseman, Murray has a chance of making the squad next year.  Welcome to Columbus Ryan!


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Dear Rick, Get Used to It

Nash at Practice in 2011-12
Rick, it's time we had a serious chat.  I follow things pretty close.  I know you asked for a trade and all that.  I can get my arms around that, and I'm at peace with watching you go.  And I will wish you well.  There is only one obstacle in this process at this point.  It's you ol' buddy.

You see, you command a pretty big salary.  In fact you got pretty uppity when the club didn't come through with what you thought was enough.  So they came through.  But now you're asking someone else to pick that up, and there's the rub.

Let's be blunt.  You didn't earn your salary last year.  You weren't in the all-star game because you didn't deserve to be.  You're not the only one that had a rotten year in 2011-12, but it can be truly said that you were the leader of those who had a rotten year.  So you were overpaid by a couple of million last year.  You did score your 30th goal in the last game of the season, so you did preserve that statistic.  But no GM wants to pay north of $7 million for a guy who scores his 30th goal on the last day of the season.

So get your arms around it Rick.  You're playing in Columbus in 2012-13, because no one will give us what you are worth to this franchise.  They want market value, and you are over priced versus your performance.  And there's only one person who can change that, Rick.  It's you.

A brief thought on the 2012 NHL Awards

Greetings from Las Vegas.  As you can see over at DBJ Plus, I had the opportunity to attend the 2012 NHL Awards.

It was an impressive night, filled with highlights and a gallery stuffed with the top NHL talent - players, coaches and management alike.

As a Columbus Blue Jackets fan, I also found the show invigorating.

For in this National Hockey League, there is absolutely no reason that my favorite team and its players can't perform at a level that would qualify them for future awards shows and the success that brings them to that stage.

The Blue Jackets can be the best.  It IS possible.

Mull that over.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Hitch wins the Jack Adams Award

Ken Hitchcock wins
Coach of the Year
Former Columbus Blue Jackets Coach Ken Hitchcock won the Jack Adams award for Coach of the Year tonight.  Coach Hitchcock, the winningest coach in CBJ history, won the award for the superlative job he did after taking over the St. Louis Blues this year.

A heartfelt congratulations coach, from a long time fan.  You probably should have won it in 2007-08 for doing so much with so little.  But you have it now.

This award likely salts Hitch's place in the Hall of Fame.  And for that I am extremely happy.

Well done Coach Hitchcock.  Well done indeed!

Coaches Join the Battle

Today the Columbus Blue Jackets  completed their coaching staff for the 2012-13 NHL campaign.  Joining Head Coach Todd Richards are Associate Coach Craig Hartsburg and Assistant Coach Keith Acton.  They join current Assistant Coach Dan Hinote.  This is welcome news, and the more you look at the additions, the better they look.  The new coaches bring a wealth of experience with them that spans several franchises.  The diversity and breadth of their experience adds a lot of depth to the coaching staff and will give them needed perspective on how things should be in Columbus.

Hartsburg has been a head coach several times (see Puck Rakers for details), and Acton spent most of the last 10 years with the Maple Leafs.  Hartsburg coached draft prospect D-man Ryan Murray for two years in juniors with the Everett Silvertips, and had this to say about him "He's just a really intense guy, " Murray told  "Every day he teaches you to work hard.  You can't take a shift off when he's your coach or you're going to hear about it.  He really taught me that you have to play consistent if you're going to play at a high level.  He taught me that if you're going to play at a high level you have to play hard every night and you have to show up every single day".  (stick tap to @RedditCBJ for the tip on this quote).

He sounds like the kind of guy the CBJ needs.


Sunday, June 17, 2012

We Have Met The Enemy And He is Ours!

Join the Battle!
Oliver Howson Perry uttered these famous words on Sunday, June 24, 2012: We Have Met the Enemy, And He is Ours!  Two Forwards, Two D-Men, a draft pick and a Goalie.  Well, we can only hope that Howson is uttering these words anyway.

It's draft week, Nash sweepstakes week, and 'content week' for the bloggers, meaning that we will actually have something to write about.  Today, the Dispatch initiated the salvo with the release of the new 2012-13 CBJ slogan of 'Join the Battle'.  I like this slogan.  While there are obviously some satirical opportunities in the new slogan, it is plenty good enough.  The satire comes with the turf when you are the 30th place team in the league.  Win some games and the satire turns into jealous whining.  Just sayin'.

This release is actually rather untimely as I was planning a blog post suggesting my own personal favorite slogan 'No Where to Go But Up'.  I was going to solicit input on other options, but the CBJ wisely beat me to the punch.  'Join the Battle' has a lot of advantages over my suggestion, so perhaps we should just let that go, eh?

Thanks to my Preds fan Father-in-law for the Photoshop assist.  Happy Father's Day John.


Friday, June 15, 2012

DBJ Homework Assignments

The draft is coming at us quickly.  We bandy about what we think the CBJ should do.  In an effort to get some cohesiveness to this discussion, the folks here at DBJ are giving you some homework assignments.

On a personal basis, I have been discussing the issue of draft success by the CBJ with my buddy Bill for years.  One common denominator is that a 'successful NHL player' was defined as a player who played at least 400 games.  This is a useful definition.  On the other hand, Gilbert Brule is well on his way to being a successful draft pick, having played over 300 games.  Say what??!!

However, it behooves us all to look at, and understand Jeff Little's Player Participation Index (PPI), which is basically the proportion of games played in the NHL by a player to the number of games the player could have possibly played.  This is all outlined in Jeff's article on The Hockey Writer's Overtime section.  This is a really good article that presents another way to evaluate the effectiveness of a draft pick that is not so time dependent as having a 400 game career.

Jeff followed the previous article with this one which is a little more challenging, but ultimately starts to look at CBJ success in relation to the rest of the league.  Personally, I need to read this one again to fully grasp what he is saying, but nonetheless this is top shelf stuff.

Next on your summer reading list is a series of articles from the Edmonton Journal's The Cult of Hockey.  The first is a two part series, 'You can't draft goalies and neither can anybody else'.   Part I is here, and Part II is here.  This is followed by another very good piece on drafting defensemen, which is here.

OK, everyone get through these by the end of the weekend, and then we'll talk.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Blue Jackets Need to Draft...

It's that time of year again. The grass needs mowed, flowers are in bloom, and the Stanley Cup has been awarded. As we all know that means it's time for the NHL Draft. After finishing in last place in the league the Blue Jackets managed to lose again, this time the draft lottery to the Edmonton Oilers. For the third year in a row the Oilers sit in the catbird seat with the first overall selection in the draft. Further, this draft has a consensus number one prospect in the form of Nail Yakupov of the Sarnia Sting. The next level of prospects is thought to have 4-5 elite players that are one rung below Yakupov. The Blue Jackets have a variety of directions they can choose to go with their second overall selection.

Nail Yakupov
The Russian-born Tatar is a dynamic offensive force who has posted an impressive 80-90-170 in 107 career OHL games and 6-16-22 in 14 World championship games. He is the consensus  number one prospect in the draft and has been compared to former Russian great Pavel Bure. He is also an awesome interview.

Typically the team drafting first would gleefully take Yakupov and move on, however the Oilers are not the typical team drafting first. With the last two first-overall picks the Oilers selected Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, two offensive wunderkinds that have frames that could lead to injury problems. Nugent-Hopkins missed twenty games due to injury this season, Hall has missed 28 games due to various injuries (to be fair some were freakishly bizarre in nature) in his first two seasons. Add to those concerns the fact that Yakupov suffered a concussion near the end of the regular season and injuries could be a concern going forward for him as well. All of this leads me to believe the Oilers would at least consider trading the pick, especially to the Blue Jackets. If the price were right I could see Scott Howson taking advantage of the Oilers reluctance to add to their injury-prone top-six to move up and snag Yakupov. The price the Blue Jackets should pay depends on their analysis of Yakupov. If they think he's a legitimate first-line player from day one then it's entirely worth a prospect like Dalton Prout or a roster player like Marc Methot to move up and take him. If (when?) Rick Nash is traded Yakupov would make a fine replacement. Of course it could be the Blue Jackets might not have to move at all to draft Yakupov as the Oilers are reportedly considering taking Ryan Murray.

Ryan Murray
Based on the last two drafts it appears character is an important aspect in Scott Howson's drafting decisions. After the Nikita Filatov disaster it is not at all surprising to see the organization put as much weight in character as they do in skill. Players like Boone Jenner and T.J. Tynan are examples of players that seem to be picked not only for their abundant skill, but also for their attitude and leadership abilities. Aside from his skills, Murray's greatest asset appears to be his character and leadership. A smooth-skating two-way defender, Murray is the captain of the Everett Silvertips of the WHL and was the captain of Team Canada at the World Under-18 Championships. He also recently played with Team Canada at the World Championships alongside current NHL players. Murray has drawn comparisons to former great Scott Niedermayer and projects to be a top-pairing defenseman. The Blue Jackets have never had a defenseman that possesses the skill of Murray, and this could be the player that turns the defensive corps into a respectable unit. Think of a defense next season with pairings that consist of Johnson-Wisniewski, Tyutin-Nikitin, and Moore-Murray with Marc Methot available to be plugged in on any pairing in case of injury. Wisniewski on the top pairing doesn't make me especially confident, but he and Jack Johnson seem to have developed good chemistry as have Nikita Nikitin and Fedor Tyutin. If Moore continues to improve his game we could have three legitimate defensive pairings and some good depth in Springfield with players like Dalton Prout, Cody Goloubef, and David Savard developing.

Alex Galchenyuk
Barring a serious knee injury it is entirely possible we could be discussing Galchenyuk as a contender for the first overall selection with his former teammate Nail Yakupov. Galchenyuk was born in America and is the son of Alexander Galchenyuk a former Russian Super League and IHL player. Due to a serious knee injury his health was a major concern heading into the draft combine, however those concerns should have been put to rest after his impressive performance in Toronto. Galchenyuk absolutely dominated the anaerobic fitness peak power output test, a test that measures explosiveness, where he bested every other player there. A known fitness junkie, Galchenyuk's impressive frame (6' 198lbs.), gritty board work, and excellent on-ice vision make Galchenyuk a very tempting prospect at the top of the draft. The main concern with drafting a player like Galchenyuk second-overall is even if he's recovered physically from his torn ACL he lost an entire season of development. It's doubtful Galchenyuk would be able to step right into the Columbus lineup and take a top six center spot next season. When you're a team as low on talent as the Blue Jackets, ideally the number two pick would step in and play right away. It's really a shame Galchenyuk was injured, as without the season to judge him on, it would be tough to take him second overall, even if his ceiling is higher than some of the other players that will be available. Imagine a center depth chart that looks like this in two-three years: Galchenyuk - Johansen - Jenner - Chaput

Filip Forsberg
The top-ranked European skater in the draft crop this season is this 6'2" 181lb center. Currently playing in a professional league in Sweden, Forsberg's numbers don't look very impressive at first glance. Then you look at the league he plays in and the typical role of players his age in the league. Forsberg is playing in a league against grown men similar to the ECHL or AHL at the age of 17 and holding his own. A tough player who scores and passes adeptly and protects the puck very well, Forsberg is a bit of an unknown for Blue Jackets fans. If Forsberg is the target of Howson I wouldn't be surprised to see him attempt to trade down a bit as it is thought Forsberg will be available outside the top four. If Toronto GM Brian Burke falls in love with a player or new Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin wants to make a big splash I could see them offering something enticing to trade places with the Jackets. If Forsberg is selected he will probably be sent back to Sweden for further development. This could lead to a long development time as he has yet to get acclimated to the smaller North American ice.

Possibilities If We Trade Down
Mikhail Grigorenko
Morgan Rielly
Jacob Trouba
Matthew Dumba
Teuvo Teravainen

Seriously Lou, WTF??

Here's a Boomer for Lou.  Where's the Fax?
Today the great hockey blog, Puck Daddy let the rest of the world know that Lou Lameriello  czar of all he surveys for the New Jersey Devils decided to hang on to that 29th pick of the first round, rather than forfeit the pick as the Devils are required to do some time in the next few years.  You see, the Devils signed Ilya Kovalchuk to a contract that was illegal under the CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement).  One of their punishments was that they were required to forfeit a first round pick in one of the next few years.  This seemed like an opportune moment.

By the way (BTW) grandma, WTF stands for 'where's the fax?'  You know, the smart one.  The one notifying the NHL that the Devils would forfeit their first round pick this year, when they pick 29th.  They must figure they are gonna finish better next year, after Parise leaves on free agency, and Marty Brodeur  is 41 instead of 40.  Yah, OK.

This is the final blow of a disastrous 2011-12 season for the CBJ.  There is literally no where to go but up from here, we are lower than a snake's belly in a wagon rut.  Had New Jersey exercised their option to forfeit this pick, the CBJ's first pick of the second round would have moved up to the 'first round' in the 30th slot.  As such, we would have realistically had 2 first round picks (barring the sheer stupidity of Howson exercising the right to use LA's 2012 first round pick).

If it weren't for bad luck, we'd have no luck at all!


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Bitterness, Anger, and Closure

The root of my problems, Jeff Carter, when hopes were high
back in training camp.
Well, the godforsaken experience that was the 2011-12 NHL season is finally over.  Good golly Miss Molly, how in the world did I find myself rooting for the New Jersey freakin' Devils??  Baggage.  Way too much baggage I guess.  I was never really ever able to overcome my deep seated hatred for a Western Conference foe.  The sight of Jeff Carter getting a chance at holding the Stanley Cup was too much to bear, and I turned it off after the second period.  I am definitely bitter about how this all turned out, and the anger simmers below the surface, popping up at unusual times.  But today is a good start at closure.

First of all, I am happy for the L.A. Kings fans.  Forty-five years is a long time to wait, and is a time period that should be quite sobering to the BlueJackets faithful.  I'd have to live to be 100.  Yoikes!!  So congratulations to the L.A. Kings Faithful.

The second part of closure is the knowledge that Jeff Carter did not really do anything for the Kings that he did not do for us.  And realistically, the 2011-12 season was buried and done before Carter got a chance to get on the ice and have a chance to affect the outcome.  A highly talented, and streaky player, Carter won the odd game for us, just as he did for the Kings.  LA of course had  Conn Smythe trophy winning goal tender Jonathan Quick to make Carter's occasional outbursts stand up as wins.  This was something the CBJ defense and goal tending could not be counted on to accomplish.  Jeff Carter may have been the pebble that started the avalanche for the Kings, but he was no more than a pebble on a deep and talented team.  Minimizing his role is probably one of my immature rationalizations to make me feel better.  Which is what closure is all about, isn't it?

Hockey Night in Canada wraps up 2011-12 in grand style

The CBC continues to impress with their Hockey Night in Canada presentation of the NHL, and last night is no exception.

Here's the pregame montage:

Monday, June 11, 2012

The sun sets on another NHL season...

...and, considering the trials and tribulations of Blue Jackets fans everywhere, perhaps it's best to close the book on 2011-12 with a chuckle:


Bring on the NHL Awards...the camp...and 2012-13!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Patrick Factor

Because I didn't have a pic of
John Davidson, I used this one
of Craig Patrick.
Today the Columbus Dispatch's incomparable Puck Rakers broke the news that John Davidson has interviewed with the Columbus Blue Jackets.  In addition, they added a nice Cannon Fodder podcast on the subject, that is definitely worth a listen.  Jeff Little over at Ten Minute Misconduct was all over this story, and had a really boss picture, which I don't have.  I was at work.  Which was good because I found out today my All Star tix were gonna cost north of $800.  Hmm.  Back to work early tomorrow.

So what do I have to offer to this breaking story.  Well I certainly agree with the Puck Rakers that its hard to put a price on what Davidson could bring.  But, it is also VERY clear, that whatever moves that have happened in the organization recently have had a stamp of approval from Craig Patrick.

And this is as it should be.  Patrick was brought in, with his impeccable hockey pedigree, to provide a sounding board for strategy to Scott Howson, who is good but lacks experience  relatively inexperienced.  Patrick has been pivotal in decision making, and it seems unlikely that the senior executives are going to back away from that any time soon.  So how do Craig Patrick and John Davidson fit together?

It turns out, that in 1980, Patrick coached the Rangers for part of the year, and Davidson was a goal tender on the downside of his career.  (my sources are wikipedia, and the NHL website.  Pretty public stuff).  In fact, Patrick may well have sent Davidson to the minors in 1980.  You need a long time Rangers fan to provide the details.  But the fact is that Davidson emerged from his hockey career with the Rangers, and moved into broadcasting at the same time that Patrick was General Manager of the Rangers.  It seems, they may go way back.

I don't know for sure, but if this gets done in the next 24 hours, I think we'll find that Patrick pushed hard for this as an invaluable addition to the front office.  From what I heard, I think he's probably right, again.


Monday, June 4, 2012

Clowns to the left of me...

"..Jokers to the right, here I am...Stuck in the middle with you." - Stealers Wheel

No, I'm not trashing on the Columbus Blue Jackets.  Instead, I'm commenting on the personnel bind that the Blue Jackets are starting to find themselves in as this offseason gains steam.

With a healthy nod to Stealers Wheel, I'll break this down into two groups:


When one has a Dark Blue Toddler, it's easy to visualize
"Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right."
Because you really have no excuse to be tracking the roster moves of fourth line forwards and seventh defensemen, I'll get you up to speed really quick:
What's going on here?  I'll suggest a few things:
  1. These are all marginal NHL players who are looking at a $600-700,000 payday in the NHL.  If they get bumped back to the minor league AHL, however, the paycheck is more like $100-150,000.  Why not take the NHL-size salary with no potential of downside?
  2. The NHL is staring the possibility of a lockout straight in the face.  It would not surprise me in the least if agents are telling their lower-paid players to pass on the risk of a lockout and get a guaranteed income while the NHL and NHLPA let it all play out this season.  
  3. As to Lebda and Sanford (not Lepisto), I'm guessing that KHL teams are smartly targeting the NHL's least successful teams and their demoralized players first.  Might as well pick the low-hanging fruit of players who probably wouldn't mind a change of scenery.

Friday, June 1, 2012


"The expectations have been too low around here, and that goes not only for the players and coaches, but for management and everybody else."


It's been the Columbus Blue Jackets' offseason for nearly a month now, and NHL hockey is still being played in some parts of the United States.  We've had the chance to see fourteen teams qualify for the playoffs and get eliminated over the course of the past three rounds.  All that's left is the New Jersey Devils and the Los Angeles Kings, with the Kings taking the first game in the Stanley Cup Finals.

And what's transpired around Nationwide Boulevard?
  • Todd Richards, the coach who cleaned up the not inconsiderable mess left by Scott Arniel, was retained.  This was done without the team conducting any formal interview process of alternate candidates.
  • Derek Dorsett, the fan favorite third/fourth liner with a heart of gold and a mouth that would make only his grandmother proud, was re-signed to a three-year contract extension.
  • Ryan Russell, the midseason pickup who split time between Springfield and Columbus after being plucked out of the Montreal farm system, got a one-year, two-way contract.
  • Derek Mackenzie, the long-time AHL/NHL tweener, finally saw his wish of a one-way contract come true.  
  • We're also hearing that Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson is planning to negotiate new contracts with restricted free agents Nikita Nikitin and Jared Boll.  Perhaps unrestricted free agent Curtis Sanford, too.
Even more fascinating was the nature of these deals.