Sunday, January 31, 2010

Who would you have drafted? (incl. 2000 draft)

CBJ Tweeter En4cer45 threw out an interesting idea for a new series on the blog, one that I'm going to take him up on.  He suggests:
Most of the time people complain about teams' draft picks, so what I'm proposing is to take the 5-10 players selected after and, including who the Columbus Blue Jackets picked, offer up a reader poll to determine who should we have picked.
Great concept!  So get ready, DBJ readers (and CBJ fans), I'm going to throw out a series of polls for you to vote on - done on an annual basis.  To review the Blue Jackets past first round draft picks:
  • 2000: Rusty Klesla (4th overall)
  • 2001: Pascal Leclaire (8th)
  • 2002: Rick Nash (1st)
  • 2003: Nik Zherdev (4th)
  • 2004: Alexander Picard (8th)
  • 2005: Gilbert Brule (6th)
  • 2006: Derick Brassard (6th)
  • 2007: Jakub Voracek (7th)
  • 2008: Nikita Filatov (6th)
  • 2009: John Moore (21st)
We might pass on the 2009 draft as those classes largely are still percolating in juniors and the minors.  We should probably skip 2008, too, but I'm guessing that the discussion about who to pick other than Filatov could get interesting.  

Regardless, there's a lot of discussion to be had. Hindsight IS 20/20, and we in the CBJ fan base sure have a lot of hindsight to offer!

So let's start right now with the 2000 draft.  The premise is start with the CBJ pick and compare him against the following 10-ish picks.  Check the box next to the name of the person you would have drafted (including the CBJ pick - you're allowed to pick our own) and click "Vote Now!"

The first team abbreviation is the team that drafted the player; the second team abbreviation is the player's current team.  Lifetime statistics are posted as follows: 
  • Skaters: Position | Games Played | Goals | Assists | Points | Penalty Minutes | +/-
  • Goalies: Position | Games Played | Wins | Losses | Overtime Losses | Shutouts

If you have a thought that you'd like to add to the discussion, post it in the comments after you vote!  

Game 57/St. Louis: My Take

'Twas a bit of a strange game, somewhat out of character for the Columbus Blue Jackets.  (No, it's not out of character that they won, 3-2 in overtime.)

First, the Jackets scored first.  That in and of itself is really strange.  That it was Derek Dorsett who scored only helps.  Don't get me wrong, I like Dorsett a lot for the fire that he brings to the ice; he's not the scoring type.  Perhaps his promotion to Alternate Captain is pushing him to round out his game.  Add in that Dorsett's missed a number of games with injuries that largely reflect his no-holds-barred playing style, and his playing - let alone scoring - is a bit of a surprise.  Good for him, though.

Second, the Jackets (Fedor Tyutin, specifically) scored on a 5-on-3 power play.  When's the last time that happened?  Not that I'm complaining, but you can't say that it's not surprising to see happen by this team, this year.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Game 56/Los Angeles: My Take

Dear God, the Columbus Blue Jackets are one fragile team.

After blitzing the Los Angeles Kings for the first 10-11 minutes with nearly no time in their own defensive zone and peppering Olympian goalie Jonathan Quick with shots, the CBJ let one shot get past Steve Mason on the Kings' third shot of the game and promptly went into a shell for the rest of the night.

The Jackets lost, 4-1.

I'm not sure I've ever seen a team deflate so completely after one fluky goal like that.  I say it was fluky because, as Jeff Little pointed out and I confirmed via DVR, Mason was screened on the shot by RJ Umberger and Samuel Pahlsson.  Surely RJ and Sami didn't mean to block Mase's view, but, as they say, it is what it is.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Help save the Blue Jackets

A group of Central Ohio residents has created a website and "grassroots adovcacy" group called Forward Together Columbus with the intent of mobilizing public support for a positive solution to the current arena lease stalemate.

Support for NHL hockey in Columbus aside (I think that's a given on this blog), it's worth considering that the Columbus Arena District is an economic engine for the region, an impressive sign of civic renewal on what was a dilapidated old state penitentiary and a model that other cities are actively following.  In this lousy economy, it's one of Ohio's very few genuinely bright lights.

So take a minute, go to the Forward Together Columbus site and ad your name to their online petition that says:
To: Whom It May Concern

From: Forward Together (

We, the Undersigned, hereby express our support for a solution to the financial problems that
threaten our city, the Arena District and the Columbus Blue Jackets hockey team.

The economic benefits of the Arena District, area businesses, residents and the Columbus Blue
Jackets hockey team are far too important to place at risk. We understand it is a difficult challenge, but we have faith in our collective ability to find a path that works for everyone involved, including us - the taxpayers.

We need to come together to solve this issue and allow downtown Columbus and the district to
continue its decade-long streak of success - a credit itself to our community leadership thus far.

Our entire city is now going through the most difficult period of our lifetimes. The last thing we need right now is another major economic loss to complicate matters and set us back even further. We must maintain a long view toward prosperity, by considering the value of what we already have right here.

We must have the resolve to do what is necessary to get through this crisis, while never lowering our sights in the process. As a regional center of entertainment and vitality, we are well on our way with the River South District, the Arena District, the Scioto Mile and Huntington Park.

Let's keep the momentum strong in Columbus. Let's figure it out and find a solution. We know we can do it if we all work together to support the effort.

The Undersigned

Channeling Barry Trotz, Part V

Part I: On The Forecheck's take
Part II: Preds 101's take
Part III: Pull My (Fang) Finger's take
Part IV: Seth Lake's take
Part V: Preds on the Glass' take
And we now conclude our investigation of the success of Barry Trotz and the Nashville Predators with the thoughts of Buddy Oakes, blogger at Preds on the Glass...
I really feel bad for y'all in Columbus after making the playoffs last year and then going through all the stuff you are seeing now. I had Eric Smith on our podcast a couple of weeks back and we talked about all the problems. Pre-season, I had a hunch that Steve Mason would not have as good a second year as his rookie campaign and Eric gave me some insight into the personality change that Mason has undergone over the summer. I talked to Mason at the Awards show in Vegas and he was about as shy as anyone I've ever seen that was a public figure. It's hard to believe that he went from that to being so difficult this season.

I know that Hitch and Trotz are friends and actually called Barry on Hitch's coach's show last week to ask him a question about Pekka being left off the Finnish Olympic team.

I think the primary reason for Trotz's longevity is his relationship with GM David Poile that has goes back to when Trotz was with the Washington Caps AHL team when Poile was with the Caps. Trotz was an assistant in 1991 and was named head coach in 92. In 94-95 his team won the Calder Cup and Trotz was the AHL coach of the year. When Poile came to Nashville Trotz followed.

Channeling Barry Trotz, Part IV

Part I: On The Forecheck's take
Part II: Preds 101's take
Part III: Pull My (Fang) Finger's take
Part IV: Seth Lake's take
Part V: Preds on the Glass' take
Continuing our series on Barry Trotz, what makes him so successful in Nashville and what the Columbus Blue Jackets might learn from his (and the Preds') example, let's consider Preds Twitterer Seth Lake, who offers thoughts on the culture that Trotz and the Predators have built over the years:
The key to Barry Trotz's successful and lengthy tenure at the helm of the Nashville Predators franchise has been developing a family-like culture.  Trotz treats his players with a tremendous amount of respect as people first and players second.  Never does he treat anyone as an asset and this in turn allows him to be extremely critical when the need arises without fear that the player will tune him out because ultimately they know how much he cares about them as a person, so no matter what...his criticism is related to their performance on the ice and not ever a personal attack.  In return, Trotz is well-respected within the locker room, throughout the organization, and around the league as well.

Channeling Barry Trotz, Part III

Part I: On The Forecheck's take
Part II: Preds 101's take
Part III: Pull My (Fang) Finger's take
Part IV: Seth Lake's take
Part V: Preds on the Glass' take
[Picking up the pre-vacation series, DBJ readers recall that the Columbus Blue Jackets leadership is apparently looking to model their franchise on the Nashville Predators - especially their coach and general manager.  With all of the hue and cry about coaching and whether Ken Hitchcock is the long-term answer as CBJ head coach (which has largely subsided since the team started playing .500 hockey), I asked a few knowledgable Preds bloggers to offer their insights on coach Barry Trotz and what makes him so successful as Nashville's only head coach.
And we've learned a few lessons along the way...]

LESSON 1: Be a good guy, a relationship builder, a guy who worries about tomorrow as well as today.
LESSON 2: Perhaps its "Southern Hospitality", but In Nashville, Keeping Coaches is What We Do.
LESSON 3: Coaching a Scheme that [Columbus] Needs
LESSON 4: Players Coaches
LESSON 5: Beating Teams and Expectations

Next up, AJ in Nashville, blogger at Pull My (Fang) Finger (nice title!).  AJ was kind enough to engage in a little email dialogue with me on the topic of the Preds success...and offer his thoughts on the Columbus Blue Jackets as well.  This is a well written response, and I've edited the response by bolding what I think are the key points that AJ is making.  Hope that helps.
First off let me say that I'm flattered that you'd think to ask my opinion in the first place! I appreciate your kind words with regard to my blog.
I don't know if you've read the handful of posts in which I've keyed upon the Bluejackets, but I myself have expressed frustration over their retarded (no pun intended, I assure you) development. Don't get me wrong -- I'm always going to root for my team first, but I really like Ken Hitchcock as a coach -- primarily because he's so similar in style to Barry Trotz (and because he started this whole Evil Empire deal -- which means he doesn't take himself too seriously -- and I think that's a plus for ANY coach or sports figure in general).
But yeah, I do believe I have a decent handle on what makes Trotz successful at what he does, but it's a kind of unique circumstance that works well here in Music City but may not elsewhere.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Game 55/Nashville: My Take

The Columbus Blue Jackets are playing out the string.

Sure, coach Ken Hitchcock used his postgame presser to suggest that the CBJ are 7 points out of the playoffs (and only have to go 8-2 to get back in the mix - yow!).  Sure, Chris Clark said the same thing in the locker room.

Problem is, the Jackets have improved to become a .500 hockey team, not an .800 hockey team.  They might go on a little run, but nothing that incredible.  If they do, I'll gladly eat large helpings of crow as I'd love to see it happen.

No, my friends, the message came in the pregame mutterings.  Hitch talked about how the Jackets are going to ride goalie Steve Mason down the stretch despite his poor play.  The Fox Sports Ohio folks talked about how "the kids are alright" (again) in their pregame show, signifying yet another recommitment to the team's youth movement.  When a cash-strapped team talks about playing youngsters instead of making moves at the trade deadline, they're playing out the string.

Luckily for the Jackets, the youngsters can be pretty good. They were last night.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Game 54/Minnesota: My Take

[I had a bit of an epiphany on vacation.  Most of my "10 Thoughts" posts started looking the same.  You know, "Mason/Garon need to get their act together," "Nash needs to be a better captain while putting a puck or twelve in the net," "Huselius drives me crazy," "Something ain't right with Commodore," "Kris Russell is looking better and better."  It's like a broken record.  

So I'm going to stop the insanity.  No more "10 Thoughts".  Now, I'm just going to offer my take on the game.  If it takes 10 words, I'll offer 10.  If it takes 1,000, I'll offer 1,000.  No more artificial constraints.  Hope you like this new approach.]

I returned home from vacation as the puck dropped in Minnesota.  Candidly, I had to help unpack and reacclimate the Dark Blue Onesie to his my attention was rather divided.  Not that it mattered, as it looked like the Columbus Blue Jackets were bound and determined to play the finest neutral zone possession game that the NHL has ever seen.  The Boys in Union Blue barely made Wild goalie Backstrom work for his paycheck.

Problem was, the Wild of 2009-2010 are not the Wild of years past.  New coach Todd Richards has the Boys in Cream (and I HATE cream on hockey jerseys) playing a more uptempo game, enduring a painful early-season transition from longtime coach Jacques Lemaire's plodding, defensive approach to start approaching .500 hockey in January.  (Actually, the Wild are now 25-23-4.)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Shifting the goalposts

...We interrupt my extended vacation for a brief commentary...

Hey there, everybody.  Just checking in from a pretty place much closer to the Equator with some thoughts on the Jackets since I left for vacation.
  • The Jackets went on a 3-game win streak in western Canada, proving that the team has the talent to win.
  • Since that point, the Jackets have gone 1-4-0, proving that they don't have the mindset (temperment?) to make the playoffs this year.  
  • In the last 3 games, the Jackets scored 10 combined goals.  I daresay the team's scoring drought is over.  (Rick Nash's 11-game scoreless streak ended, too.)
The last point suggests a change in coach Ken Hitchcock's philosophy.  Now I haven't seen a game since leaving Ohio, but the commentary I'm reading indicates that the old-school "dump and chase" offense is being replaced with a puck possession offense.  This gives credence to Michael Arace's awesome commentary on Hitch's soul searching:
Some would argue he has also been grinding down players, particularly young ones. Hitchcock says two things: No. 1, there is no pressure on any young player to do anything other than work hard. No. 2, he needs to rethink how he handles players, young and old.

No. 2 is a recent epiphany.
Hitch is handing the younger players over to assistant coach Gary Agnew for coaching and, possibly more importantly, a friendly shoulder.  He's clearly letting the offense loosen up as Rick Nash and other players have apparently asked.  Heck, he even made Derek Dorsett an alternate captain.

I've pretty much reconciled myself that the Blue Jackets won't be in the NHL postseason this year.  Arace alludes to this:
We shall see how committed he is to this new tack in his philosophy, and whether it works. At this point in a potentially playoff-free season, management is monitoring the spirit of the team as much as it is wins and losses. Hitchcock has that spirit in his hands.
Thus, the goalposts on the season have been shifted.  It appears that Hitchcock is now open to making the changes necessary to win in today's NHL.  The early results are mixed, however, but even mixed results are cause for optimism when you consider what the CBJ have done since mid-November.

I'll be back next weekend...the blogging should pick up soon thereafter.  Until then...Let's Go Jackets!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

What’s Cooking in the CBJ Kitchen?

Recipe for Disaster

1 pound of Hitch Hockey, heaping
1 Wall of Mason, crumbled
1 Large Lack of Defense
9 Injured Players
2 Conditioning Issues
9 Game Franchise Losing Streak
3 Cases of Olympic Pressure
1 ounce of Effort
4 Game East Coast Fiasco
146 Goals Against
1 Nikita Filatov Distraction
1 healthy splash of Arena Financial Troubles
1 Lack of Syracuse Depth
2 Sophomore Slumps
8 Shootout Losses
4 Constantly changing lines

Pinch of Scoring (optional)

Mix all ingredients together. Sprinkle pinch of scoring on top (optional). Serve cold. Serves 29.

Recipe for Success

1 pound of Hitch Hockey, heaping
6 Players Returning from Injury
122 Goals Scored
4 Lines of Special Teams
1 Best Franchise Start
1 Olympic Snub
1 Checking Line
60 Minute Team Effort
1 Alberta Sweep
2 Surprising Crunch Players
3 New Players
7 Olympians
2 Stanley Cup additions
1 Community Outpouring for Kindersley Ice Rink Fire
1 healthy splash of Prospect Depth
1 Total Team Chemistry
1 NHL Star of the Week

Mix all ingredients together. For best results, do not make any substitutions or omissions. Serve steaming hot. Serves 18. Garnish with a shutout.

I wonder which recipe the Blue Jackets are planning on using for the remainder of the season…?

Until next blog,

Friday, January 8, 2010

Let's Take a Different Approach to CBJ Blogging...

Hello CBJ boys & girls (and non-CBJ blog-lurkers)!

After much thought about what to blog about in the absence of DBJ (thank you for the opportunity, by the way), I have decided not to add yet another voice to "what ails the Blue Jackets". Fire Hitch, trade Huselius, bring Filatov back, send Mason to Syracuse... whatever! Frankly, the arguments are all running together after such a sad stretch of play this season. I'll leave those decisions to Scott Howson.

So what to write about? There are four topics about which I would consider myself *uberly-knowledgeable*: hockey, coffee, miniature pinschers and marketing. So, while I sit here with my minpin (Puckey) while drinking a cup of coffee (yum!), I will discuss hockey marketing.

About a year ago, I wrote a blog discussing the numerous reasons that the Blue Jackets should hire me in their marketing department. Obviously, no one in the CBJ offices read the blog, because I do not work in their marketing department. So I will use this platform to re-hash (in a nice & respectful manner, of course) a couple of the many, many, many gripes that I have with the existing Blue Jackets marketing.

I admit, I love the Civil War concept for the Blue Jackets! Nationwide Arena boasts a Civil War-era cannon that commemorates Ohio's enormous role in the Civil War. GREAT!!! They ask us fans to "Carry the Flag!" I'm carrying it!!! But why stop there?

Let's "Carry the Flag" from the moment the Arena doors open until the final victory *BOOM* of the cannon! And that can start with the Pepsi Power Patrol. Nothing says "Civil War" like driving out onto the ice in a dune buggy shooting t-shirts into the crowd, eh? I get that Pepsi is a sponsor and needs to be incorporated into the mix, but come on... I can't even go into the IGS Energy Blimp. I just can't. Now, the Boom Jackets are a nice touch, but 10 drummers (or however few there are) just isn't much of an impact. Have at least 50 drummers all around the arena on every level of the arena all playing at once.

Speaking of music... the current music selection is brutal - almost painful. Keeping with the Civil War theme, how cool would it be to hire a local punk band and have them do a couple remakes of Civil War songs? Think about it - the team skating out to a high-energy, pumped up version of Battle Hymn of the Republic or Battle Cry of Freedom - it would be something completely unique to the Blue Jackets... something that would tie into the theme and give them an identity. And the crowd would love it!

And let's not stop with the entrance song. Let's give certain players their own theme song! Let them hire a local girls' band to do a fresh, "hip" remake of Hey, Mickey! and whenever Rick Nash scores a goal, let Hey, Ricky! blast through the crowd! Each time Jared Boll beats the snot out of someone, play Animal I Have Become! Whenever Steve Mason makes a killer save, I want to hear Brick House! I can't be alone here, right?

The best way to get people in the seats at Nationwide is through quality publicity. Quality publicity. They really missed a terrific publicity strategy this year. Coming off of the first ever playoff run in franchise history, interest in the team was at its peak. Wouldn't a series of commercials with a relevant and funny storyline featuring the "Young Guns" (which could easily be part of the Civil War theme) have been great? They could have filmed eight commercials at once in the off-season, and released a new commercial each month from September through April. I know that these guys aren't actors and that they don't all have a major grasp of the English language, so make them like silent movies... problem solved! And they really shouldn't limit the existing commercials to Fox Sports Ohio - chances are, if you are watching Fox Sports, it is because you are watching the Blue Jackets games already (No offense to Access Cavaliers). Get them on some mainstream channels in prime time!

That's a good start, CBJ Marketing folks... no?

If you are still reading... first, THANK YOU! Let me tell you a smidgeon about my CBJ self. I have been a Blue Jackets season ticket holder since day one. I was sitting in the same seat at the Inaugural game that I sit in today. I have been through an awful lot with this team, and I am extremely passionate about them. I am not a fan who threatens to turn my tickets in unless a coach gets fired or a player gets traded... the Blue Jackets are MY TEAM. I will vehemently support any player who is fortunate enough to wear a Blue Jacket's jersey. You could say that I am "dug in."

By the way, the boys beat Edmonton 4-2. Hopefully they will Carry the Flag into Calgary and return home with a second road victory.

Until next time...
PuckeysMom :)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

New DBJ blogger; Trade Winds a-blowin'

First off, I'd like to ask all DBJ readers to warmly welcome Twitter's @PuckeyesMom to the Dark Blue Jacket blog.  If I understand correctly, Mom's been following the team since (before?) Day 1 of the Columbus Blue Jackets franchise, and she's as passionate a fan as they come.  We've been Twittering for some time, and she mentioned that she might want to get (back) into blogging.  A quick Twit-dialogue, and she's here!

Note that this is a "volunteer" blog - no one's making a dime off of it - so don't expect Mom to be working on deadline or anything.  As things happen and she feels the need to offer thoughts in more than 140 character bursts, this blog is hers to use.

After the outstanding guest bloggers who have graced this site this season, I'm so glad to continue the momentum and have Mom aboard.  Welcome, Mom!! (How exciting!)

On a personal note, don't expect to see a ton from me for the next 10-ish days. I have to get outta town for a conference today and tomorrow, then I return to C'bus just in time to bail out for a weeklong vacation with Mrs. DBJ, the Dark Blue Onesie and all sorts of DBJ family from around the country. It'll be a great time, I'm sure, but I've vowed not to post a thing until I return. (Time and place for everything, you know...) This is probably perfect timing, as I think the events of the last month or so warrant a "cleansing" break.

If the satellites and Internets allow, I'll try to keep up with the team while I'm gone. Otherwise...stay warm, everyone!

Channeling Barry Trotz, Part II

Part I: On The Forecheck's take
Part II: Preds 101's take
Part III: Pull My (Fang) Finger's take
Part IV: Seth Lake's take
Part V: Preds on the Glass' take
LESSON 1: Be a good guy, a relationship builder, a guy who worries about tomorrow as well as today.

My ongoing quest for knowledge about Barry Trotz and the lessons we can learn from his success as a model for professional hockey success in Columbus led me to Josh at the Preds 101 blog.  I love how he describes the purpose of his blog: "A blog about the Predators for the football fan.  I love hockey, and have a lot of friends that would love the game if they knew anything about it.  This is my attempt to explain the game to the fans out there that love football, and would love the Preds if they just knew what the heck was going on."  An honorable mission, one of education for the masses.  My type of guy as I look to learn more about Barry Trotz.

And, boy, did Josh bite.  Not only did he answer my email, but he wrote and posted an entire piece analyzing Barry Trotz on his blog in the course of the day!

Thus, with no further ado, here's the Preds 101 take on my question du jour...

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Sometimes it takes the worst of scenarios to occur for the truth to come out.  Like any image-conscious businessman (like, say, Charles Foster Kane), the Jackets would much rather play with smoke and mirrors rather than admit ugly truths.  However, when the days are darkest, tongues loosen.

I'll submit that this just happened with the Columbus Blue Jackets, as reported by Tom Reed at Puck Rakers.  While not the deathbed revelation of Charley Kane (luckily not as cryptic, either), Ken Hitchcock had perhaps the most cogent argument for staying the course with the Blue Jackets despite their 20 loss in 23 game stretch and both fans and media turning their backs on the franchise.

It turns out, after all, that this is part of a larger franchise strategy.  I'll let Hitch speak for himself:
"We maxed out last year and we didn't win a playoff game. We have to get a lot better than that and the only way you do that is by going through the growing pains.

"We are in a winning business and so people have complained that we're not winning right now. If we don't go through this long-term vision -- which could be six months, it could be a year -- then we are not going to be really good when we need to be really good."
THERE!  That's it.  The team leadership had a plan last year - playoffs or bust - and executed it to within an inch of their lives.  But they were wise enough to appreciate that getting to the playoffs and doing something once you're there are two different things.  So they considered their options and decided to suck it up and go the youth route.  It's the long view, but, as Hitch says, the team will be really good when they need to be really good.

Channeling Barry Trotz, Part I

Part I: On The Forecheck's take
Part II: Preds 101's take
Part III: Pull My (Fang) Finger's take
Part IV: Seth Lake's take
Part V: Preds on the Glass' take
The Dispatch's Michael Arace offered the "big media" commentary on the firing of St. Louis Blues coach Andy Murray and drew the inevitable comparisons to Columbus Blue Jackets head coach Ken Hitchcock's job security considering the similar coaching arcs in Columbus and St. Louis over the past two seasons.  Both teams, as you know, made a terrific run to get into the playoffs last season, flamed out in the first round, and have had eminently forgettable years this season.  The piece got some followup attention from the likes of Puck Daddy and ESPN.

Within Arace's piece, which I really like (and am glad to say as I don't want to be labelled as an "Arace hater" for my reaction to one of his past pieces), he extracts a team strategy that I'm not sure I've heard before:
President Mike Priest and Howson believe the Hitchcock style is the way to win in the NHL. They would prefer to keep him in place in the same way that Nashville has kept [head coach] Barry Trotz in place. They believe that continuity is critical in a smaller market, and they are standing firm in this conviction.
Now this is very interesting, as I'm full of envy over how the Nashville franchise is run and has had continued success over its 10-ish years. But it also got me thinking: If Priest and Howson are implying similarities in the job statuses of Hitch and Trotz, might we want to see what has made Trotz so successful as the only coach Nashville has ever had?

This demanded further examination.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Jacket Backers tour of Nationwide Arena

The Jacket Backers (again) show that membership has its privileges, in this case it's a members-only tour of Nationwide Arena this week.  If you want to forget the crappy past six weeks yet still get your CBJ fix, why not check out the back corners of perhaps the finest arena in professional sports?  Sign up for a membership now and then RSVP for Wednesday night!

(I can't make it this week as I'll be out of town, but you can bet that I'll make every effort to take the tour in February...)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The clock is ticking

I don't want to write this post, but to avoid it would be to stick my head in the sand.  I wrote on December 16 that Ken Hitchcock's honeymoon as coach of the CBJ is over.  Nothing has improved in terms of wins and losses since that point, so we need to revisit the situation.

The Columbus Blue Jackets are in the midst of the worst performance in their 10-ish year history.  They've lost 20 of 23.  They've won 3 games outright (including overtimes) since November 19.  This isn't bad, it's garish.

That's not to say all is impossibly lost.  The on-ice performance is improving, slowly - especially since Hitch told his goalies (in front of the team) that the only way that they're going to play is by winning the prior game.  GM Scott Howson traded Jason Chimera away to get Chris Clark and Milan Jurcina; it's only been three games, so I will withhold judgement on the trade.  They're playing well enough to win, but they're making the key mistakes, missing the shots...just enough to lose.  And lose they have.

10 Thoughts about Game 43: Colorado

1. The Columbus Blue Jackets 'welcomed' the Colorado Avalanche to Nationwide Arena tonight, played hard and lost on a Colorado goal with less than a minute left.  Final score was 3-2.

1a. The loss (with no "loser point") puts the Jackets at 15-19-9 (39 points).  They've lost 20 of their last 23, if my review of the schedule is correct.  Without tonight's games having ended, the CBJ are 12 points out of the final playoff spot.

1b.  Here are the highlights:

Friday, January 1, 2010

My Winter Classic-inspired idea for a new Edmonton arena complex

Anyone who watches the NHL Winter Classic can see that hockey played outdoors has a certain cache that is hard to match.  There's plenty of talk about adding more Winter Classic games; a US game-Canada game doubleheader might work and be an appropriate hat tip to our neighbors to the north, but I think that adding additional dates dilutes the unique value of the event.  If the NHL is smart, they will keep the Winter Classic unique as a New Year's Day event.

That's not to say that outdoor hockey shouldn't be played during the regular season, though.  The key is to set it up in a way that makes sense.  It's my opinion that the best way to do it would be to try something that currently doesn't exist in the National Hockey League: TWO sheets of ice, one indoor and one outdoor, on the same property.

Before you dismiss me entirely, hear this idea out.

DBJ's cop-out for Game 42: Nashville

I got tied up on New Year's Eve at the last minute and had a great time with family and friends, so I'm not apologizing for missing vast portions of the game.  I did catch the Voracek (Torres?) goal (Yay!), the overtime goal (Boo!) and Hitch's postgame presser (Sob!  I hope someone bought him a drink last night.).

My intent was to watch the DVR'd game this morning, but I'm currently watching the Rose Parade with Mrs. DBJ and will catch the Winter Classic (Go Bruins!) - then football through the balance of the day.  No time to watch a game that, after an inspirational start, turned into a dog, so I'm going to offer links to game recaps and hope to get back on track soon.

Thus, here's the recap of game recaps:

That's it?  Wow - lots of celebrating last night, I guess.

[UPDATE: The Hockey Writers gives us the Game Recap of The Year with Coach Hitchcock Presents: New Year's Evil In Columbus.  OK, the year is pretty short thus far, but the piece is really good.]