Saturday, December 17, 2011

Craig Patrick

RyJo and Dorsett practice face-offs with Dan Hinote
I had the opportunity to attend this morning's Columbus Blue Jackets Season Ticket Holder Open Skate, and had the pleasure of shaking hands with Craig Patrick after the Q and A session.  We are very, very lucky to have this guy associated with the franchise.

The significance of the photo at the right will become clearer later in the post.  But for the moment it is important to know that Ryan Johansen and Derek Dorsett spent most of the practice working on things together.  Passes for one-timers, face offs, and in the other skating and passing drills.  If RyJo can pick up on Double D's 'motor never turned off' playing habits, it will take him far in his career.  He couldn't be hanging with a better person.

Following the morning skate, there was a session with Jeff Rimer and Bobby 'the Chief' Taylor, an announcer for the Tampa Bay Lightning  in which they swapped a bunch of stories about Taylor's years playing for the Philadelphia Flyers, which was the era of the Broad Street Bullies.  Very entertaining stuff.

Following that, the new Senior Hockey Adviser, Craig Patrick was introduced for a Q & A session which was very enlightening.

Craig Patrick, CBJ
Patrick was first welcomed by a warm round of a applause from the season ticket holders present.  In the first part of the session, Jeff Rimer asked him to discuss legendary coach Herb Brooks, who coached for Patrick on the New York Rangers.  He discussed how Brooks had the 'Miracle on Ice' planned out from the beginning, and Patrick's role as 'good cop' to Brooks' 'bad cop'.  He also said that Brooks was very hard on the players, and that after awhile they started tuning him out.

One of the most interesting statements that he made several times, which I really liked and appreciated, was that after 5 and a half years of watching hockey with no one to root for, that he was very happy to be back in the game, and to experience the passion that comes with having someone to root for.  To me, that says this guy is just wired this way, the organization is going to get his best, because this is his team now.

He also said that he had hired and fired a lot of coaches, and that was a hard thing about the job.  He was later asked the inevitable question about our current coach with he declined to answer.

The last game against the Kings was the first game he watched, and he said that he, like everyone else from the players to the management knew it was a bad game.  He confidently stated we would see better tonight.

Rimer asked a question if with all the money today, was the pressure for winning greater.  Patrick said he felt the pressure was no different now than it had ever been.  You needed to win to fill the building.  Interesting perspective.   His greatest experience in his career was winning the Stanley Cup.

A discussion of talent evaluation, drafting and development ensued.  Patrick stated that if he had to choose between skill and character, he would take character.  He said that was the most important attribute of young players.  There are plenty of players with skill, but its harder to find good character.  Part of good character is that desire to make yourself better.  Some lunatic in the crowd who shall remain nameless (aimless humming to distract the reading audience) asked him if he had ever had trouble with Russian players, since it looked like we would be drafting another one, and our experience wasn't that good.  He said, no, he'd never had any problem, since he had drafted for character.  He was polite and didn't add 'duh'.

I found this part of the discussion very enlightening, and it makes me very hopeful that this guy is going to have a very beneficial effect on the organization.  Again, we are lucky to have this guy rooting for our team.

He was asked if he had discussed his job with John McConnell.  He said no, he had only talked with Scott Howson, that Howson had brought the possibility up to him, that they talked about it for about three weeks and worked it out.  He said it was perfect for him because he could still live in Pittsburgh, where he has 4 children, and 6 grandchildren.  Being near his family is obviously important to him.  But he emphasized how tired he was of watching hockey without having someone to root for, and that it was a very good fit for him.  He was to be an extra set of eyes and ears for Howson, and that going out to look at the potential high first round picks was coming soon on his agenda.

He was asked about team leadership, how you developed and nurtured it.  He talked a lot about the leadership group of the players really needing to take charge of the locker room.  A question was asked about the lack of leadership players taking the optional morning skate this morning.  He noted that 'back in the day' the players only came in on game mornings to make sure they had a good edge on their skates, that they would do a twirl on the ice without even getting out of their street clothes.  He felt morning skates were overrated.

He said he had watched practice yesterday, and that it was a very good practice, with all of the players working very hard.  He stated confidently that we would see a better game than the LA game tonight.  He also said that he felt we had a very good team here, but that they were still searching for their identity.  He felt when they found that, they would be very good.

He only mentioned one player.  John Moore, whom he observed working on his shot after a very long and hard practice.  He mentioned that was character, the desire to make yourself better.

Obviously, I feel that after watching Ryan Johansen spend the whole practice working with Derek Dorsett, that the character thing seems to be showing in RyJo.  That is really good in such a young player.

All in all, I came away with a very, very good impression of this person.  He has a lot to offer, and he is excited about the chance to be involved again with a hockey organization.  It bodes well for our future.


1 comment:

  1. If there is one thing I'd like to note from today's skate, it was how much fun the guys were having. I've seen the team practice a lot, and especially on game days, they tend to be very higly focused and go about their business.

    Today I saw Brass celebrating after a silly non-drill goal with some of the guys and coaches. I saw Brass, Moore, and a coach playing some deke-heavy Keep Away, knocking each other over and smiling. I saw Dorsett and Johansen having a hell of a time working on face offs, talking trash and messing with one another.

    Have you ever seen a good team - in any sport - where they didn't like each other? Where they didn't have a good time? It was great to see them enjoying themselves and one another.


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