Friday, September 30, 2011

Do the Red Wings have an Eastern Conference move in the bag?

Nothing personal, Wings Fan.
I've got one of these for each team
in the Central Division not
named the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Slightly disturbing news out of Detroit, where Owner Of Everything Sports and Entertainment Related Except the Lions Mike Ilitch had this to say in an interview:
Q . OK, once and for all, are you gonna get the Wings out of the Western Conference or not? 
A . The commissioner (Gary Bettman) promised me I was next. We even had a meeting over lunch this past season, and he had all his people here, and he goes, 'Yeah, I promised Mike he'd be the next one to go in the Eastern Conference.' So I expect to be in next year. Jimmy D (Devellano) is on the phone every other week reminding them.
"I promised Mike"?  Gulp.

It's widely presumed that the movement of Atlanta - an Eastern Conference team - to central time zone Winnipeg meant that an "eastern" team in the Western Conference would shift East.  That would be Columbus or Detroit, although Nashville makes silly claims that it should go East while sitting in the central time zone.  And the Blue Jackets are open and honest in their desire to shift to the East for reasons of travel, television and further growing the fan base.

Preseason game recap: Minnesota Wild

Oh.  It's YOU again.
I had a sneaking suspicion that tonight was going to be an atypical preseason game, and that proved to be the case.  The evening was dominated by the matters of training camp - building chemistry, evaluating talent/fit, getting (near-)NHL game experience, etc. - but you would have to be blind not to notice the punchiness in the arena when the Minnesota Wild and their jerk forward Cal Clutterbuck played the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena.

The Jackets kept their cool and exacted revenge for the baited hit by and subsequent suspension to James Wisniewski, smoking the Wild with a three-goal second period en route to a 4-2 win tonight.

The second period barrage was especially notable in that the CBJ kindly held off on scoring until they were right in front of my new ticket package partner (Chris) and me, perched over them in section 223.  We enjoyed seeing Fedor Tyutin blast one in from the point ("We're allowed to do that?"), a genuine Rick Nash goal and a Jeff Carter power play goal that was, simply put, a thing of beauty.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

(Preseason) Game night!

I'm FINALLY going to get to Nationwide Arena to see the Columbus Blue Jackets in person tonight!  There are lots of interesting combinations and permutations in the air at CBJ Central, and I'll be interested in seeing them up close (well, from the upper deck) and personal:

Drop. The. Puck!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The bubble defensemen

Because reviewing the preseason performance of the Columbus Blue Jackets bubble-perched forwards was so much fun, and my template was already set up, I figured it was easy to toss together the CBJ bubble blue-liners.

The training camp numbers are nowhere near as large
as on opening day of camp, and the competition is that much
more intense for the last few roster spots.
The same caveat applies to the defense as to the forwards: Statistics should be a significant factor, but not the only factor, in judging the preseason performance of a player. There are a host of other issues that come into play when building a roster beyond the boxscores.  (Never mind that the advanced statistics movement in hockey is widely acknowledged to have taken off with the development of the Corsi rating, something tailor-made to compensate for inadequate boxscore data on defensemen.)  Still, it's foolish to overlook the publicly available stats altogether, as they can tell us stories as well.

With no further ado, here are what I see as Blue Jackets defensemen on the bubble for the opening day roster (note that I've got an update at the bottom of this post, but humor me as I share my completed work in this fluid environment):

Again, the individual player statistics are available by clicking their names at the bottom of the spreadsheet.  Also, the disparity in games played make the per-game statistics useful.  With that out of the way, let's look inside the numbers, shall we?

The bubble forwards

The herd is thinning, and statistical output
likely will play a role in determining who makes
Columbus' opening day roster.
I've been more than a little snakebit with regards to watching Columbus Blue Jackets preseason hockey.  Thus far, I've seen two whopping periods of hockey across six possible games.  My first game in person will be on Thursday against (oh boy) Minnesota, but enough hockey has come and gone to start poring through the box scores and do a little statistical comparison-making as we consider what the opening night lineup will look like.  Stats surely don't mean everything, especially in training camp when things like chemistry, playing style, maturity and other intangibles come into the decision-making mix...but overlooking statistical performance is never wise.

So here you go...the story thus far for what I consider the Blue Jackets' forwards who are sitting on the roster bubble:

Note that in addition to totals, I've posted game-by-game results for each player as well.  Click on the player's last name at the bottom of the spreadsheet to see their numbers.

But what to make of all this?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Columbus' hockey ambitions spelled out

Check out this interesting blog post out of Columbus Business First by Jeff Bell.

Putting all the "we need our arena deal so we can pursue other events" lobbying aside, let's look at the events for which the Greater Columbus Sports Commission apparently is on record as pursuing:

  • NHL All-Star Game (at Nationwide) in 2013 or 2015 - The bid has been submitted!
  • NCAA regional hockey tournament games in 2013
  • The Big Ten hockey championship (at Nationwide) in 2013
  • The NHL Winter Classic (at Ohio Stadium) in 2015
  • The NCAA Frozen Four (at Nationwide) in 2015
2014 appears to be a NCAA basketball bidding year for the Commission.  

An All-Star Game?  The Winter Classic?  College hockey tournaments?  Sounds good to me.

The Wiz suspension: NHL leaves questions unanswered

Before I get rolling, let's make one thing clear: In no way will anything in this post change any of my feelings of disappointment toward James Wisniewski.  The Columbus Blue Jackets need Wiz on the ice, not munching nachos in the press box while his teammates try to cover for his absence.  Wiz needs to play smarter and avoid putting himself in situations where his temper gets the best of him.  Period, end of story.

There's more to the discussion than just that of Wisniewski's behavior, however. We also should take a look at the quality of administration of player discipline - to be fair to Wiz and his fellow players throughout the NHL.  That being said, let's go back to the tape.

That's the NHL/Brendan Shanahan analysis and explanation of the eight regular season game (and balance of the preseason, retroactive to Sunday) suspension given to James Wisniewski for his hit on Cal Clutterbuck.  

It leaves a number of unanswered questions.

Monday, September 26, 2011

"Wiz needs to be a leader not a thug."

So says one of my very insightful (and less wordy) Twitter followers.  I don't disagree.

Here's Brendan Shanahan laying the lumber to Wiz.

8 regular season games at $7 million over 82 games equals $682,926 (corrected per $536,585.36, or a proportional amount of his $5.5 million cap hit) of lost income for Wiz.

My disappointment continues unabated. Wisniewski MUST play smarter. The team's success depends on it.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

On the Wisniewski suspension

After the Clutterbuck hit, how long will
we have to wait to see James Wisniewski
 playing for the Blue Jackets again?
James Wisniewski has been suspended indefinitely by the NHL following the hit he laid on Minnesota's Cal Clutterbuck on Friday night.  The exact length of his suspension will be known following a hearing with the NHL, one which Wiz has waived his right to be heard in person.

I was out of town and didn't see the hit, so I don't know whether to believe the Dispatch:
It occurred in the final minute of the game. Clutterbuck took a run at Blue Jackets defenseman Fedor Tyutin along the end boards, and [James] Wisniewski went over to confront Clutterbuck. It looked like the two were going to fight, but instead they rejoined play for the final 30 seconds of the game.  
When the final buzzer sounded, Clutterbuck appeared to circle back and skate up on Wisniewski, who blasted him with his elbow or shoulder, sending Clutterbuck to the ice. A skirmish ensued, and Wisniewski was sent to the penalty box, dinged for high-sticking. That's where he was sitting when the Wild scored to win 4-3 in overtime.
...or the Minnesota beat writer:
As for wisniewski, he chased Clutterbuck around ice for 7 or 8 seconds before intentional, retaliatory blow to head for check on tyutin
That doesn't stop me from wanting to offer some wider perspective on this matter.

OMG - A preseason game recap!

Back from a week of travelling around New Mexico with the DBJ family, I finally got to watch enough of a preseason game to offer some cogent thoughts.  Thanks to the Columbus Blue Jackets for streaming their video screen with the radio simulcast.

The Blue Jackets hosted the Team Formerly Referred to as the Buffalo Buffa-slugs and laid the lumber to the visitors, 4-1.

VERY briefly (It IS preseason, after all, and you can't draw too much into a game where not-quite NHL rosters are playing at not-quite full speed...)...

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Know your numbers

Globe and Mail columnist James Mirtle, whose work I respect a great deal, offers up a piece on the statistical revolution in professional hockey that is most definitely worth a read.
One would think that CBJ GM Scott Howson did some hefty statistical
analysis before opening up the Blue Jackets checkbook
to the tune of $33 million on James Wisniewski, a player who has
never commanded  such a price on the market.
In contrast to traditional statistics such as goals and assists, advanced statisticians believe [newer statistical measurements] offer greater insight into which players are performing well in important areas of the game, including defensive play, puck possession and ability to play against other team's top lines. 
This knowledge, in theory, allows teams to better determine what players should be paid – that is, their true value under the salary cap – and find players who may be overlooked or underrated by their own organizations.
Sure, this piece is written to coincide with the "Moneyball" film that just hit the theaters.  It's always good policy to take the topic du jour and put a localized spin on it.  To talk about stats in hockey is right in line with that philosophy.

But we can't diminish the the piece - or the concepts behind it - by suggesting that it's just a "Moneyball" tie-in designed to grab readers' attention.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The CBJ preseason game-opening video

Here's the first new content that I've seen out of new Columbus Blue Jackets game ops manager Derek likey:

I gather that this is running in the arena before the preseason games get underway. Can't wait to see what he has planned for the regular season!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Re-Caps/ Umby

Another scrum at the goal
The CBJ beat the Washington Capitals tonight 4-3 in an Overtime win.  It was pretty ugly.  The veterans skated to not be injured (I thoroughly approve), the young guys hustled, and the Caps tried to pull a Winnipeg on the home squad.

There was plenty of rough stuff, and lots of chirping.   Jeff Carter made his CBJ debut, and seemed to be skating rather gingerly.  Good.  We're gonna need him in the regular season.  Nasher played pretty good when he needed to, as befits a Captain.

Max Mayorov continues his strong bid to make the club, with a goal and 2 assists, and lots of little hustle plays.  Umby was visibly pleased when they paired up for the shorthanded goal.

Adam Payerl continued his strong bid for some sort of contract from the club.  He is a camp invitee.  Lots of hustle plays, but when Matt Hendricks laid a hit on Mayorov's back, knocking him into the boards, he was the one who jumped in, gave him a few punches to let him know he was serious, then basically shook Hendricks like a rag doll.  Its tough to fight a turtle.  Yeah, he drew the double minor, but Hendricks drew a roughing with his cheap shot, and that's the kind of penalty your mates will kill for you every time.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Definitive Perspective?

The First Weekend of Training Camp

Steve Mason on the first day of training camp, 2011-12
When I launched into the Dark Blue Jacket's Definitive History of the CBJ, I was looking for material to tide us all over until training camp.  First of all, I should have started August 1, not 10 days before training camp.

It ended up being an interesting journey through the CBJ's past.  As an expansion team, you don't think of yourself as having history.  After 10 years, we have history, and one of the things you get from history is perspective.

After all, this blogging gig, reading Puck Rakers for years, reading all the other awesome CBJ blogs that have emerged (Please see side bar!), is a search for perspective.  My buddy Bill is a fount of hockey knowledge, and is a good guy to talk to for gaining perspective of hockey in Columbus.  (Editors Note:  Don't forget to ask him about the night the Chill hit the ice in limos).  Being a fan of the Blue Jackets essentially from the beginning, we were told many things, but it didn't always seem to work out the way we were told it was going to work out.  Thus, the long search for perspective, so that one can glean one's own answers.

Regarding the 2011-12 Columbus Blue Jackets, we won't really know until we start squaring off with other teams.  But based on what I have seen on the ice in previous training camps, this group is DEEP.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Training Camp, Day One

Drop the puck!

I brought my new-ish camera to the opening day of Columbus Blue Jackets training camp and - while learning that sports photography is a lot harder than it looks - came up with a few photos that you might enjoy...

Friday, September 16, 2011

Part V: The Dark Blue Jacket's Definitive History of the CBJ

The Howsonian Era -  The Later Stagnation Period to the New Reformation!

The Columbus Blue Jackets Cannon Logo
Arrrggghhh!  This thing has me by the throat, and the puck drops tomorrow!!    OK, ok, focus.

We last left this tale at the end of the glorious 2008-09 season, when the Columbus Blue Jackets lifted the playoff stigma from their resume, and made the post season for the first time.

By virtue of their strong showing, they picked 21st in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, selecting Defenseman John Moore.  In the off season they parted ways with Freddy Modin, Michael Peca, and Jason Williams.  Optimism was high, the pundits largely picked the squad to finish where it had the previous year, much as they are picking the 2011-12 CBJ to finish where they did last year (shocking newzzzz!)

Jackets to Stream Pre-Season Games

An announcement this afternoon by the Columbus Blue Jackets that they will stream their preseason games on Jackets TV at  The announcement is here.

The grand experiment

If the Rosenberger plan is adopted, Nationwide Arena would transfer to public ownership.
Smile!  You'll be owning an arena!
Permit me to share some perspective on my three favorite sporting teams as a prelude to my discussion of the proposed Nationwide Arena plan.

I've been especially proud of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football program because, unlike so many other schools, they have chosen to eschew the choice between the academically qualified and the athletically challenged.  When the lads weren't doing so well - something that's happened a lot recently - I could at least take heart that our kids played hard and graduated after taking legitimate, quality coursework.  When the Irish were on top of the heap, it was even better - but that's another story for another day.

When I was a diehard fan (thanks again, Matt Millen), I took pride in the Detroit Lions for doubling down on a decrepit downtown Detroit as the place to locate the new Ford Field - a place I still consider to be America's football palace.  The team may have had tough times, but ownership did its part to help rebuild of one of America's formerly great cities.  There's nobility in that move...even if it ends up being financially questionable.  Strangely, however, winning has put rear ends in the seats even in downtown Detroit.  Go figure.

And even though the Columbus Blue Jackets have only tasted the playoffs for a brief four games in their history, I could always fall back on the arena as a means to keep my head held high.  As Jeff Little explained in his "Arena Chronicles" articles, Nationwide Arena was one of only five arenas (Boston, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver being the others) in the entire National Hockey League that used entirely private money to fund its operations.  So our team might not be winning every night, but at least the Blue Jackets weren't bleeding the taxpayers while they worked our way along.

All three represent grand experiments: Notre Dame in preserving the notion of the student-athlete in spirit as well as in letter, the Detroit Lions in their commitment to urban renewal and the Columbus Blue Jackets in the spirit of "The private sector can do this without government help, thank you."

With regard to the Blue Jackets, it appears that particular grand experiment officially ended in failure on Wednesday.  And while I'm genuinely pleased that the Blue Jackets' flight risk will all but evaporate by the time this deal is ratified, there still is a tinge of sadness.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Part IV: The Dark Blue Jacket's Definitive History of the CBJ

The Hitchcock Restoration

A Columbus Blue Jackets Civil War Logo
Ken Hitchcock was coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets from November 22, 2006 to February 3, 2010.  He is the winningest coach in Blue Jackets history, compiling a record of 285 G, 126W, 123L, and 36OTL.  Depending on how you fall out on your view of the shootout, he is the only coach in CBJ history to have a winning record.

In my last post I made the assertion that although many names had changed, the talent level of the team plateaued at about the 2003-04 level.  As evidence for that, I point to Ken Hitchcock's coaching record.  Prior to coming to Columbus, as a head coach he had never coached a team in the NHL for the entire year and not made the playoffs.  That is, until he coached the 2007-08 CBJ squad.

Don't get me wrong.  I think he was kind of fond of that team, because he believed that the team had maxxed out.  That they had given him everything that they had.  But it wasn't enough, they simply lacked the talent to be a playoff team.  But I am jumping ahead.

Ken Hitchcock's coaching career for the CBJ served as a bridge between two General Managers, Doug MacLean and Scott Howson.  As such, Coach Hitchcock holds a very important place in CBJ history.

The Nationwide Arena Proposal presentation

Following is the presentation used at Wednesday's event to announce the details of the Nationwide Arena Proposal. If you wish to skip to the summary of terms, look at page 7 (and refer to the abbreviations on page 6).

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Update on the XM Hockey This Morning guys' forthcoming visit to Columbus

As you're aware, I posted an Open Letter to XM NHL Home Ice's Mick Kern after he made me sad over his comments regarding the fitness of the Columbus market to support the Blue Jackets.

Mick then posted a reply and indicated that he accepted my offer of a Columbus Blue Jackets game ticket and both pre- and post-game festivities.

The dialogue has since left the blogosphere, so I figure that an update for those of you keeping track would be in order.

First, our party of guests has gone from one to two.  Mr. Kern will be accompanied by his co-host, Mike Ross.  While Kern has never been to Columbus, Ross has visited (stayed at the Hyatt Regency, I gather) and - not surprisingly - has nothing ill to say of Columbus or the Blue Jackets.  (I tell you, get the people to Columbus, let them see what it's all about...and the negative stuff about our community and team tails off right quick.)

Second, the guys asked me to hunt down weekends where CBJ games coincided with Ohio State football games.  There are two such weekends, but I learned this morning (yes, I have to listen to their show to find out where their heads are at) that neither weekend works out.  So they're (wisely) eschewing the football and will be restricting their sports viewing activity to hockey.

And that's that.  We're all up to speed.  Kern & Ross need to figure out their schedules and get back to me with a preferred date.  Then we secure tickets, and we're off and running for what should be a terrific day!

So now let's have some the interest of leaving no stone unturned, permit me to ask all of you two questions:

  1. If you had to suggest one game in the entire CBJ home schedule for Kern & Ross to see, which one would that be?
  2. If you were to take your buddies from out of town to a CBJ game, what would you consider the "Do Not Miss" points of a game night experience - pre-/during/post-game?
Post your thoughts in the comments.  Can't wait to see what you suggest!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

On professionalism in sports, and reconciling dreams with reality

(This article will get around to the Columbus Blue Jackets.  Really.)

This past weekend has me wearing
sackcloth and ashes today.
This past weekend pretty much stunk, and I'm still in a bit of mourning.  My alma mater, the University of Notre Dame, played a football game in which they choked at a historically high level through the fourth quarter against a mediocre-to-poor opponent.  As if that heartbreak wasn't enough, I sat through a day-long series of 9/11 anniversary specials.

Let's be clear: The events of 9/11 overwhelm the significance of any sporting event.  I challenge anyone to dispute that fact.  However, when one's mood is already down, being bombarded with imagery of unspeakable hate, death and devastation isn't necessarily the best tonic.  I know I could have turned the TV off, but it was important and compelling...never mind that the lethargy coming out of a tortured night's sleep thinking about what's happened to my beloved school's premier athletic program over the past 15-plus years didn't exactly supply me with the energy to do much more than sit on the couch.

Big-time college sports is a funny thing, a paradox of sorts.  It's de facto minor league system for professional leagues.  The National Football League doesn't have an official minor league, they have the NCAA schools (and arena football, Canadian football and the United Football League...which, combined, pale in comparison to the NCAA for the number of players they develop and deliver to the NFL).  The NBA now has an official D-League, but I'm again not hearing how basketball players are eschewing the schools for the D-League.  Baseball and ice hockey are a bit different, as the well-established minor league systems aggressively compete with college sports for talent.  The CBJ's John Moore, for example, was committed to Colorado College before skipping school for the CHL's Kitchener Rangers.  And soccer...well, soccer's just weird.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Part III: The Dark Blue Jacket's Definitive History of the CBJ

The MacLeanian Epoch - The Ice Age and the Later Deludian Period

After the lockout the CBJ unveiled a new logo.
The NHL 2004-05 season was lost to the lockout, otherwise known in this tale as the Ice Age.  Nothing moved, and the Arena District was a ghost town.  The Ice Age has a large impact on this history, because similar to the younger of two brothers, the expansion Columbus Blue Jackets were always trying to catch up to our more established brethren.  As the CBJ started trending towards larger, and more physical players to effectively compete in the pre-lockout NHL, the approach to the calling of the existing rules was changed dramatically after the lockout, emphasizing speed and skill.  From a talent perspective, the CBJ was caught on the wrong foot, and we went out of the lockout with a team ill-equipped to handle the speed of the new NHL.

The Later Deludian Period thus has that theme.  Even after the lockout it seemed as if we were still molding a team to play in the pre-lockout NHL.  Perhaps Doug didn't quite believe the NHL when they said, holding, hooking and obstruction were now going to be called.  They had said the same thing several years prior to the lockout, but the referees had quickly reverted to the older style.  So perhaps his skepticism had a sound basis.

A word about the 'older style'.  From watching many of those games, it seemed clear to me that the officials believed that you had to have the talent, strength and personal fortitude to overcome the opposition if you were to succeed in the pre-lockout NHL.  And, the referees did not feel at all obligated to help you achieve respectability if you happened to lack any of those factors.  It was your job to prove you belonged, not their job to help you.  Thus, the established NHL teams often seemed to get the benefit of the doubt on the officiating side.

Coming into the 2005-06, post lockout season, the roster again had some significant additions and subtractions.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

NHL Home Ice's Mick Kern responds to my open letter

I'm sure you recall my open letter to Mr. Kern.  He posted his own open response with a succinct reply:
I accept.
(And then he goes into a discussion of Cleveland which you're welcome to go and read.  He also made me go and look up Machias Seal Island...who knew such a disputed property existed?)

There's obviously much to consider going forward, starting with when Mr. Kern will roll into Ohio's capital city.  I'll be contacting various members of the CBJ Nation to work out the details once some of the basics are nailed down.  We have a unique chance to show off our great community (and, I hope, our soon-to-be great team)...let's make the most of it!


Friday, September 9, 2011

Fan Fest: Thank you, Columbus Blue Jackets!

I didn't get a single autograph.  I didn't sit in on a single Q&A session.  I didn't do any of the hockey skill contests.  I had to leave around 7:30 from an event that ended at 9:00.  That's how life goes when you attend a jam-packed Columbus Blue Jackets Fan Fest with your toddler son.

Regardless, I had a great time.  The Dark Blue Toddler and I "tore up" (term used REAL loosely) the Ice Haus ice for well over an hour during open skating.  The little man hadn't skated since this past winter, and he found his legs remarkably quickly.  There is hope for this little skater yet.

And he met Stinger!  There is something about that ugly green bug, something that the kids just love.  I won't understand it, but I now am witness to it.  The evening was made.

(Side note: As we were skating, the Ice Haus staff fired up the p.a. system.  Wouldn't you know that the first song to boom throughout the rink was "Call to Arms", the song from Skraut's awesome CannonFest video.  That was too cool to be coincidence.)

Once we met up with the rest of the extended DBJ family, we grabbed a bite (Ah - arena prices!), hit the bounce house and did a quick locker room tour.  We exchanged waves with Antoine Vermette and cleared to the side as Coach Arniel passed through.  A quick examination of the goalie nets and the zamboni, and it was time to get DBT home to bed.

That's my story.  Now, let's consider the entire evening as a whole...

Fan Fest is today!

The Columbus Blue Jackets pre- preseason whips into a frenzy this afternoon at Nationwide Arena as the CBJ's (first?) preseason Fan Fest runs from 4-9PM.  

If you're a Blue Jackets fan, I will accept no excuses for missing this incredible opportunity to get up close and personal with players, coaches and team management.  By that I mean Q&A's, photos, autographs and more.

You literally will not be able to be in enough places at once at this jam-packed event, so take a few minutes to review the schedule carefully and plot your adventure out for maximum benefit.

Also, this is the first opportunity for those who were not able to partake in any of the countless "exclusive" presales to grab single-game CBJ tickets.  I've already picked mine up, but surely some of you need an extra game or two...right?

Hope to see you there!  I'll have the Dark Blue Toddler in tow, so you'll be more likely to find me ice skating with him or watching him stomp around the bounce house than standing in line for autographs or hanging on Scott Howson's every word.  You do whatcha gotta do...

Thursday, September 8, 2011

An open letter to NHL Home Ice's Mick Kern

Mick Kern is, in my opinion, one of the best on-air voices at
XM's NHL Home Ice channel.  But what's his beef with
Dear Mr. Kern:

First, let me start on a very positive note.  I greatly enjoy your work on XM Satellite Radio's NHL Home Ice channel.  Your run on "The War Room" has made my mid-morning travels around Central Ohio much more entertaining, and I've learned a lot about the history and sport of hockey through your excitable (dare I say manic?  madcap?) approach to your show.  I'm still enjoying your work on "Hockey Today" but admit I prefer the fast-action stylings of your "War Room" work a little more.  Still, I always perk up when I hear you on the air.

It's come to my attention over the past couple of weeks that you've fired the proverbial cannon shot over the bow of my beloved Columbus Blue Jackets.  To paraphrase, you're suggesting that Columbus is a poor hockey market and that that team would be better off relocating to Cleveland.  I also understand that other Blue Jackets fans have done their part to excoriate you and your Habs-loving soul for these transgressions.  (I also note that you're supporting the movement of the CBJ to the Eastern Conference, a wise move if there ever was one.)

Promotional shilling

In case you didn't notice, the DBJ blog has built a couple strategic promotional partnerships with and  Doing so allows this blog to do a couple of things:
These folks recognize the value of sporting their NHL colors.  Except for
the guy on the left.  But he skipped town.  (And what in the world would
possess someone to buy that O-for-OOOgly Colorado third?
  1. Provide you with access to the best and most thorough online collections of Columbus Blue Jackets gear that I can find.  Combine those two with the DBJ Shop from Amazon, and you've pretty much covered the landscape through one blog portal.  And by all means, do not overlook the Fan Shop's CBJ section.  They have some great items that I've never seen anywhere else. And their overall sporting goods selection is mighty fine, too.
  2. Give you access to special promotions of interest to you as NHL, CBJ and hockey fans. As I'm typing this, note the right-hand column has a little promotions section with a Labor Day sale at and a deep discount at on inline skates - not to mention the overall shopping discount at  Note that these are short-term promotions, so get 'em while they're hot.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Part II: The Dark Blue Jacket's Definitive History of the CBJ

The MacLeanian Epoch - The Early Deludian Period

The Columbus Blue Jackets 'Stinger' logo
As we rejoin our Dark Blue Jacket History of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Doug MacLean has successfully sprouted an NHL franchise where none existed before.  There is no doubt that this is a significant accomplishment.  After an inaugural season with 26 sell outs, the fan base is excited, which results in the sell out of all the home games in the second season.  41 sellout games.  Take note Winnipeg!  Like the inexorable Greek tragedy, pride here goes before the fall.

An editorial side note here on the structure of this history.  From the structure of  the first post, one might assume I would go year by year citing the statistics, which would be tedious at best.  This post encompasses NHL years 2001-02 to 2003-04, in other words, this span of time goes from the second year of the franchise, to the Ice Age, aka the lockout.

The MacLeanian Epoch was not all doom and gloom.  Indeed, as always, the off season brought a new hope (he resists the urge to insert a Star Wars graphic).  Players were often 'going to take a step'  and fans often felt a personal affection for our few young players.  The draft was the only way to infuse talent into a talent challenged organization, and the fans often liked the 'upside' that young players would have.  In other words, it had not yet been proven that the young players were in over their heads.  The term 'player development' was unheard of, and the concept was foreign.

The KHL plane crash

As most of you who read this already know, all but one member of the Kontinental Hockey League's Lokomotiv team perished today in a plan crash in Russia.

I really don't have any profound thoughts or analysis on this event, but it seems appropriate to offer something, anything, on this tragic day.

All I can do is express my profound sadness and sympathies for those left behind.  What a terrible tragedy.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Johansen quandary (Part II)

In Part I, I established the issue at hand and did a little depth chart engineering to see where Ryan Johansen might fit into the Columbus Blue Jackets' lineup.  I'll try to wrap this matter up with some thoughts about what I think would be in Johansen's best professional development interests as an apparently elite young talent in the Columbus Blue Jackets system.

Ryan Johansen appears to be an amazing talent, but is playing
for the Columbus Blue Jackets right now in his best interests?
So let's establish some foundational points:
  1. Ryan Johansen is 19 years old.  He plays center at an outstanding level for his age, as demonstrated by his 40 goals and 52 assists over 62 major junior hockey games last year for the Portland Winterhawks.
  2. Ryan Johansen's professional rights are held by the Columbus Blue Jackets.  It is presumed that he will play for the Blue Jackets at some point in his professional career.
  3. Ryan Johansen cannot play at the American Hockey League level in 2011-12, meaning that he can play in major juniors again or in the National Hockey League.  
  4. I am writing from a position where I am trying to offer insights in Ryan Johansen's best interests.  Where that coincides with the Blue Jackets, all the better.  I believe that if Johansen is developed prudently, he will be a positive force for the Blue Jackets for years to come.  
  5. If Johansen comes to camp and plays to a level where it is impossible to keep him out of the lineup, all bets are off.
That being said, let's dive in.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Detroit Red Wings are descending into Hell

Why stop at "almost as prominently"?
Don't ask me why...ask one of their fan blogs:
The Red Wings have signed a contract with Amway, the Ada, Mich. based pyramid scheme, to let this company become the Red Wings’ “presenting sponsor”. That includes having Amway plastered all over every possible surface, right down to (in the words of the official team press release) “the Amway logo seen almost as prominently as the Winged Wheel in all team advertising, branding and marketing materials.” 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Cannonfest Note

The Columbus Blue Jackets have obligingly posted a real nice note about Cannonfest, along with Skraut's videos.  Check it out.

The Dark Blue Jacket's Definitive History of the CBJ

We here at the Dark Blue Jacket are eagerly awaiting the beginning of training camp, and of course, dying for content, just like everyone else.  When the words 'storied franchise' are spoken, the Columbus Blue Jackets is not the franchise that comes to mind.  But with the beginning of our second decade in the NHL, we have a history.  For better or worse.  So it seems appropriate at this time to review where we have been.  With that in mind, we bring you The Dark Blue Jackets Definitive History of the CBJ, a multi-part series designed to tide us over to the start of training camp.  Sure hope this works, the waiting is killing me.

The Inaugural Season - Our Lovable Bums
The Columbus Blue Jackets initial team logo
The first season of the Columbus Blue Jackets had arrived for the 2000-01 NHL season. The NHL has come to Columbus, Ohio!   You can still smell the new car smell in Nationwide arena.  The team ends the season with 28 wins - 39 Losses, and 9 ties and 6 overtime games for a total of 71 points.  It would be 2005-06 before we saw another CBJ team achieve that point total.  This was good for a tie for 4th in the Central Division, and 13th in the Western Conference.

Many Blue Jackets fans still think of this period with a sort of soft, fuzzy feeling.  The team rallied late in the season with an all out, team effort game in spite of their noticeable lack of talent.  Ron Tugnutt sets a record for most wins by an expansion franchise goalie.  This team won the admiration of their fans for their pluck, and their effort.  It was long before those good feelings wore off.  Doug MacLean, the President and General Manager had pulled off a significant accomplishment.  The launching of an NHL franchise in a place that had only seen minor league hockey in the past.

A good time was had by all!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

DBJ's thoughts on recent, tragic NHL-related events

A year ago, it was Bob Probert.  This spring, it was Derek Boogaard.  This summer it was Rick Rypien.  Yesterday, it was Wade Belak.

Wade Belak - husband, father of two - passed away yesterday
All four were tough guys in the National Hockey League.  All four are no longer with us.

To try to draw any additional threads between the four deaths is likely an exercise in futility.  These gentlemen all had their own lives, experiences, influences and physical/mental conditions with which to deal.

So when people use these events as platforms from which to spout exclamatories of Undeniable Truth, I roll my eyes.

No one factor killed these men.  It's never that simple.  It was a combination of influences, each differing in the combinations and influences.