Friday, September 24, 2010

The young v. old culture clash, hockey style

I stumbled across a very interesting piece on the youth movement taking place in the Edmonton Oilers locker room, and how former Oiler captain and now Columbus Blue Jacket third-liner Ethan Moreau fit into the mix last season.

Ethan Moreau's success in Columbus will largely be decided based upon the
attitude and resilience of the younger players.  Can he look past his frustration
with the Edmonton Oilers and help the Blue Jackets over the hump?
Here are the money lines, excerpted from an email sent to this blogger by a person who was in contact with Moreau back in early 2009:
Moreau’s quite fed up actually and has been for most of the year. Says the locker room is full of players that are extremely difficult to motivate and that basically just don’t give a [deleted]. 
Moreau would have had no problem with a trade either. Says he’s sick and tired of trying to get this bunch going. I think you and I can agree that despite the guys foibles and propensity for inopportune penalties, he is a good leader type and a blood and guts sort that every team would love to have one of.
And it sounds like nothing really changed for Moreau for the duration of his time in Edmonton.

Now let's fast forward to the late summer of 2010.  Moreau has been grabbed on waivers by Scott Howson, his former assistant general manager and a man who probably has a good idea what he picked up.

But what does this insight on Moreau suggest about the state of the Blue Jackets locker room last season?  Sadly, I think it doesn't suggest anything positive.  Might our young locker room more resemble the group that Moreau has left than the one he'd like to be in?  I daresay it's sounding that way, and that isn't good.

On the bright side - and, luckily for CBJ fans, there is a really bright side here - the team seems to have collectively recognized their shortcomings from last season.  They have largely shown up in good shape (I don't know of anyone who is in worse shape than last season) and came to town early to work out, get informal ice time and - perhaps most important for this blog post - bond in a common determination to be a better hockey team than last year's.  As for Moreau, he's here from the ground floor this season and not dropped into the mess in mid-season like poor Chris Clark, which should help a great deal.

They say that things start anew for every team each season...that one year's roster experiences are totally different than the prior year's.  I tend to subscribe to that theory, but that theory also is predicated upon the idea that the roster will change by swapping out more than one impact player.  Will the new coaches and Moreau be enough to stir the fire in this team and help the young core turn into the consistent winners that we all believe they can be?  If they are not, what larger implications does that have for the entire Columbus roster?

The whole "time to step up" thing wasn't just a motto for my season previews.  It's serious, and Ethan Moreau's presence suggests how serious Scott Howson is taking the intangibles this season.

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