The Dispatch ran an article in today's paper that the fund for upkeep of the arena is essentially dry. I guess this doesn't really surprise me on a lot of fronts, and I'm not concerned for now. If it persists for a long period of time its a concern. First off you have to remember that the financing plan for the Arena was based on the wildly optimistic revenue estimates of the Casino folks, that I never believed for one moment. The first thing I did when they announced that deal was to look to see what happens if Casino revenue does not meet expectations. Well, this is what happens. It's all written in as part of the deal that was signed in the first place. This was an outcome that was foreseen. I guess we need more gamblers.
|2013-14 Stanley Cup Playoffs in|
Second the first thing this fund did was to replace the woefully inadequate original equipment scoreboard and sound system with a state of the art system for the All Star game. A maintenance fund ideally has some time to build before you drop a big dollar investment right out of it. But it was sorely needed, and the new scoreboard definitely enhances the Arena experience. Anyone who was there and heard them play In the Air Tonight before Game 3 of the playoff series against the Penguins knows that every dime was well spent. I still get chills...
Speaking of the Dispatch
The word dropped this week that the Wolfe family has sold the Columbus Dispatch to New Media Investment Group. It is to be hoped that New Media are hockey fans, and maintain the excellent newspaper coverage we get of the home town hockey team. The Dispatch has maintained two beat writers, Aaron Portzline and Shawn Mitchell (who replaced 'the Condor', Tom Reed) and a columnist, Mike Arace. This results in excellent coverage, something that I have always really appreciated. I'm an old school guy. I like to start my morning with a cup of coffee and a hard copy sports page with a lot of hockey news in it. If it weren't for the fact that summer is just basically awesome, this would be a very difficult time of year for me. The Dispatch has an awesome sports page, with great coverage of a lot of things. If you doubt this, pick yourself up a copy of the Nashville Tennessean, and see how bad it could really be. We want our hockey news, New Media. Please maintain this excellent tradition.
Regarding the Captain
The more I think about Nick Foligno as the Captain of the team, the more I like the idea. Of course it is a role he will grow in, but this is a wise choice. When last season was going off the rails due to injury early in the year, the team was able to field credible line ups which should have been able to win, but couldn't muster the will to play Blue Jackets Hockey. The aforementioned style of hockey is physically demanding on the players, and the subconscious of the human brain defaults to conserving energy, and must be overridden by conscious will. Our players have that will, to be sure, but in the doldrums of the early season, when three quarters of the schedule lie before you, that will can become uncertain. A stronger team structure will help in times of uncertainty.
Nick is a pretty unique guy. I think he is going to excel in this role, and he's the right person for the job. Here's a little anecdote about Nick. It was in late May, the year of the lockout shortened season. You'll recall we missed the playoffs by a point. I had had major knee replacement surgery, and it was the last Friday while I was on disability before I had to go back to the salt mines, so I paid a visit to Front Street Friday. Nick was there signing autographs. Well, the line was long, I didn't have anything for him to sign, so started checking the rest of the festivities out.
After hanging out a bit, I noticed that the line was dramatically shorter, so I figured 'what the heck', I'll jump in line and figure it out as I go. So who's in line in front of me? Dancing Kevin. So I''m thinking this should be fun. And, while I was in line a kind member of the Jacket Backers gave me a program with Nick's picture to sign, so I'm all set. When I get up to the head of the line, Kevin naturally has Nick sign 'the belly', and they get a few pictures of that which requires Nick to get up and leave the table, and they all have a few laughs. Then Nick comes back, sits down, and he's ready for the last guy in line, me.
So I gave him my program to sign, and told him that as a season ticket holder I really appreciated their stunning run at the end of the season, and that they had done a really good job. You know, the regular blah, blah that I'm sure the players hear from the fans a lot. But on this warm May morning, and incredible transformation came over him. His eyes just started burning with intensity, and he got excited, and he emphatically told me 'We're gonna be even better next year!!'. Well, yeah you got that right,Nick! First home playoff win ever. What are you going to say?
That was two years ago. Nick has come miles since then. He's the right guy for the job.
The Clorton Effect
The whole dynamic of the Nathan Horton for David Clarkson deal has yet to be really felt in Blue Jackets circles, and it will be interesting to watch that develop this year. I have seen at least one discussion this year where an author forgot to include Clarkson in his projected CBJ starting lineup. I think it highly unlikely that we will see a lot of a Hartnell, Wennberg, Dano line this next year because of the pressure of Clarkson's presence. As well as the young guys played down the stretch last year, they are going to have an even harder time cracking the CBJ line up this year. Add to that an expected level of regression in the form of a sophomore slump, and you get an expectation that some time up in Cleveland playing for the Monsters for Dano and/or Wennberg would be considered a normal part of their development.
As far as expectations for Clarkson, a physical presence, and some goal scoring. I'd pencil him in for about 17 goals, based on dropping his high year and his low year, with a hope for 20 goals or more. I think Blue Jackets Hockey fits his style of play, and I think he will achieve a level of comfort with it pretty quickly. Things in Toronto did not go the way he wanted them to. I think he will be pretty motivated to have a good season, which could bode well for the CBJ.
Well, that should be enough for today. Looking towards the summer milestones, the draft, and free agency. Have an awesome summer everyone!