Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Guest Post: On trading Rick Nash

[The DBJ blog occasionally receives requests from loyal Columbus Blue Jackets fans to offer their unique thoughts on the Blue Jackets issues of the day.  Today is one of those days, as Iowan Jackets fan Dan McCue shares his opinion on the Rick Nash trade.]

Trading Rick Nash makes the Columbus Blue Jackets a better team.

I’m glad we traded Rick Nash.

I’m glad we traded him and if you’re a Jackets fan, you should be, too because Nash’s trade confirms that he was an ill fit for the Blue Jackets identity. At their best, the Jackets have been a team that plays hard for each other and beats the other team with effort first, then talent.

Monday, July 30, 2012

CannonFest 2012: Same As It Ever Was

Your friendly CannonFest organizing team of Matt Wagner, Greg May and yours truly tallied the numbers, played with facility seating charts, stuck a wet index finger up to the wind and consulted Hockey Jobu...and we're pleased to announce that we're going to hold CannonFest 2012 at our familiar haunt, Buffalo Wild Wings in Grandview.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Fan Anger in the Land of Misfit Toys

Back in the trade deadline frenzy, former NHL player, coach, and now commentator Marc Crawford essentially called Columbus the land of misfit toys.  This snide criticism was involved with a trashing of Alexander Semin on TSN as part of a discussion comparing Semin to Zach Parise.  The quote is below, from this source:

Marc Crawford: The difference is: one guy has a ton of character, the other guy has no character [exaggerated hand motions]. One guy scores 30 goals and doesn’t help his team and the other guy scores 25 goals, but helps [his team] in every single way. So yeah, I would sign him, but he’s going to be banished to a place like Columbus or something, and that’s what those guys do, head to the island of misfit toys [evil laugh].  

This is something that rankled at the time.  And Scott Arniel, you may think this is 'piling on', but this fan thinks you are a big part of that perception, as you were arrogant and did nothing to show the rest of the NHL that you belonged.  And I hold you responsible for it.  You too Scott Howson.  So I am a season ticket holder at the land of misfit toys.  Wiz?  Jack?  Are you listening?  This makes me angry (Grandma, you cannot fathom how hard it is to make this short statement palatable for you to read).  Hey Dubinsky!  Yeah you!  I'm talkin' to you!  This guy is talking about you now.  What are you gonna do about it?  All I can do is put my money down, and come cheer hard.  All I am asking is that you come out and earn my cheers.  Hey Umby, Toots!  They are calling you misfit toys!  There is only one way to change that, and its on the ice boys.  If you don't think there is a lot riding on this season, please think again.  Please, please, please be angry about this, and give me a chance to throw this in their face at the end of the 2012-13 season.  Bonus thought:  Wiz, Jack, you could also invite Crawford to lace 'em up and show you how he treats misfit toys.

I'll wear this, because although its not fair, or nice, it comes with the turf.  We are our record, 30 of 30.  Only you players can change that.  Please make it so.

Affectionately, a fan.


Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night...

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Glass Bangers, Rick Nash and Friends edition


No, Nash wasn't the mutinous captain.  Not at all.  It was all about helping the team.

The End of the Beginning

Rick Nash leaving the locker room for Todd Richards
first practice.  Last man on the ice.
His time was over.
The trade of Rick Nash to the New York Rangers marks a watershed change for the Columbus Blue Jackets franchise.  The expansion era is over.  The last of the early Blue Jackets is gone, and for better or worse, it is a more mature franchise that moves forward from this day.  It seems likely that we will see a lot of the worse, but not necessarily.

The new Blue Jackets will quickly find that effort sells in this town.  You come out and play hard, people will want you to win, but they'll understand when you don't.  We are interested in watching hard fought, entertaining hockey, regardless of the outcome.  We are not interested in players that can't decide if they want to show up on any given night.

The dearth of talent that is the inevitable lot of an expansion franchise magnifies the impact of really talented players.  This is the role that Nash has played for the last ten years.  The big dog.  Opposing team's strategies for playing the CBJ were simple, shut down Nash and the odds of the other guys beating you are pretty slim.  To the detriment of his game, Nash would often directly assault these 3 on 1 matchups, to no avail.

So a question you have to ask yourself, and many other people will be working hard on, how do you beat the 2012-13 Columbus Blue Jackets?  It's simply not that evident any more.  (Ok, well throw the puck at the net is the simple answer, we know that!)  We have moved on to a new era.

I wish you well Rick Nash.  I wish there had been more for you here, and I do believe you gave it a good effort.  In the end, the weight of it all got to you.  There will be other weights, and other pressures in New York.  Your experience here will help you with this.

Now it's time to move on.  This is about to get interesting.  We have a very new team to learn about, and it should be interesting to watch them develop.  These are not your daddy's Blue Jackets anymore.


Time to heal: My thoughts on the Rick Nash trade

If you want my analysis of the Rick Nash (plus Steven Delisle and the conditional 2013 third rounder) trade for Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Tim Erixon and the Rangers' 2013 first rounder, go check out my Dark Blue Jacket Plus piece at Fox Sports Ohio.  (Spoiler: I'm not entirely opposed to the trade on its merits.)

So let's use this blog to share some feelings, not just stats.  And I've built up a lot of them over the past five months or so.  Bear with me as I share and start the healing process after a long, unpleasant run with my favorite NHL team.

First, I feel relief.  I am THRILLED that I don't have to keep half an eye on the hockey media outlets to see if Rick Nash is finally going to get traded.  Love all of you to pieces, but Mrs. DBJ is still ribbing me about how I groggily asked her as I emerged from surgery on draft night whether the Blue Jackets traded Nash.  It clearly had become too much.  I'm sick to death of this story and am just glad that it's done.

I am at least as excited that this story is not lingering into the 2012-13 season.  Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards is, too, as indicated at 3:48 of this interview with Bob McElligott:

The players put a good face on this mess - that of the CBJ trying to move Nash, Nash making it excessively hard to move himself while being on the record that he didn't want to play for the Blue Jackets any more.  You cannot tell me with a straight face, however, that having an estranged superstar captain in your midst is conducive to a positive, productive team environment.  He may have been a great on-ice player (wasn't last year, but he's been great in the past) and may have been a fantastic leader (I'll take your word for it), but the point remained: RICK NASH DID NOT WANT TO PLAY IN COLUMBUS ANY MORE.  

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Changing of the Guard in the D in Central Division

Nikita Nikitin in practice last year
With Philadelphia dropping a big money offer sheet on Shea Weber of the Predators last week, it seems as if there is a bit of a changing of the guard in the defensive corps in the Central Division.  Nashville may yet match the offer, but if they don't, we will have witnessed the rapid dismantling of two of the better D-corps in the Division, Detroit and Nashville.

While I am sympathetic to the Nashville fans over their plight, I'm more inclined to shrug and say 'Welcome to the real world of expansion franchises' and go about my business.  Which today is to talk about the changed status of the CBJ defensive corps.  A recent Puck Rakers post alluded to this, but more from the perspective of attrition of quality players from the Central Division.  My point is that the CBJ defensive unit may be the third best unit in the Division, with an upside that could be higher.  Wiz and Jack Johnson have the potential to be very dynamic on offense, and showed flashes of brilliance down the stretch in the disastrous 2011-12 campaign.  Those two 5 on 3 situations in the Avalanche and Islanders games, where they completely toyed with the penalty kill, keep sticking in my head.  They scored 3 goals in those 2 situations.  How many times before the trade deadline did we have a 5 on 3 and fail to score?

And then there's the Russian Resistance, Nikita Nikitin and Fedor Tyutin.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

If you read one pre-CannonFest post...


I cannot emphasize how important it is that those who are planning to come to the 2012 edition of CannonFest read Greg's explanation and register for free tickets for the event.

The announced 1,500 attendees at the Development Camp especially have us spooked and fearful that B-Dubs in Grandview will not be sufficient to hold the many Blue Jackets fans who could be considered likely participants on August 19th.  And nothing worries your friendly CannonFest organizers more than having the fire marshall become the nemesis of diehard CBJ fans.

So I'll throw this out for you to chew on:


IF YOU DO NOT GET A TICKET, WE CAN'T GUARANTEE YOUR ENTRY.  We will try, but no guarantees.

The tickets are free.  The event is free.  All you need to do is let us know you're coming with enough notice that we can plan wisely.

So why not just get your ticket(s)?

<steps off soapbox>

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Presenting your 2012 CannonFest logo

Congratulations to Adam Heineman, whose first submission (of a few) for the CannonFest Logo Contest appeared to be the most compelling.  Using the Instant Runoff Voting model with 265 ballots cast, Adam's cannon design grabbed over 50% of the ballots after seven elimination rounds...a testament to the nail-bitingly close voting for the favorite logos!
Adam Heineman's winning CannonFest logo
Congratulations to Adam (and thanks for your help with a couple other logos where you provided technical assistance...what a selfless fan!) - and thank you to all the fine Blue Jackets fans who submitted logos.  The CannonFest organizers were mightily impressed with all of the logos...any of which would have made for a fine design.  There's some serious talent out there in CBJ fandom, that's for sure.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Compelling reasons to vote for CannonFest logos

Perhaps you are not one of the over 100 voters thus far in the CannonFest Logo Contest.  Perhaps you need that litle nudge in the right direction.

May I be as bold as to suggest some reasons why you should?


Who knows?  Maybe Matt was right.

Time to vote for the CannonFest 2012 logo!

First off, your CannonFest 2012 organizers are thrilled at the number of entries in the CannonFest Logo contest.  It is downright exciting to see the enthusiasm for this event dovetailing with such creative pursuits.

Now it's your turn, readers.  Below are the entries in the Logo Contest, and it's your job to vote for your favorites to appear on web ads, posters and t-shirts between now and 11:59PM EDT on July 13.  Now, we're not just going to do a "Vote for One" model...no, that would be too simplistic.  Nope, we're using Instant Runoff Voting.  In a nutshell (and thanks, Wikipedia, for this quick explanation):
It is a form of preferential voting (or ranked choice voting) in which voters rank the candidates in order of preference, and their ballots are counted as one vote for their first choice candidate. If a candidate secures more than 50% of votes cast, that candidate wins. Otherwise, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. A new round of counting takes place, with each ballot counted as one vote for the advancing candidate who is ranked highest on that ballot. This process continues until one candidate has more votes than the other candidates combined, and then that candidate is declared the winner.
The stats and social science geeks amongst us hopefully will appreciate the brilliance of this voting model.

Simply put, you're going to rank your favorites in order.  The logo contest entries are below, followed by a link to the ballot.  They are displayed in order received.

VOTING TIP: Grab a pencil and paper, and rank them in order of preference as you go along.  It will make the online voting process MUCH easier.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

CannonFest Logo Contest submission period winding down

No huge hype, just a quick reminder that the CannonFest Logo Contest's submission period is coming to a close as of 11:59PM tonight.

If you're technically capable, have some free time and want to try your hand at creating a logo that will win you notoriety and fame amongst some of the best fans in hockey (plus a Buffalo Wild Wings gift card!), check out this link for the particulars...and get to work!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Blogger down! Blogger down!

CBJ prospect Lynch in action at the Frozen Diamond Faceoff
Oh Crap!!  *911

Operator: Crisis intervention center, how may I help you?
Blogger: Oh my goodness <paraphrased> we have a mess here.  We have a blogger smeared all over the local scene!  Light the Lamp is hanging up his shingle!!
Operator: What happened?
Blogger: Yeesh.  I'm trying to be concise here.  The GM, in a move of stunning incompetence, fired the hall of fame coach, and hired a guy with a good rap, but no real ability (no you did not get stupid in Columbus, you brought that with you) or work ethic to match the other NHL coaches, so the whole freakin' thing imploded <piling on>.
Operator:  What about the victim?
Blogger: Well, he cared deeply about the team.  He was a passionate supporter of the Jackets Backers, as well as a great fan of the Columbus Blue Jackets.  He had an acerbic wit, and was not afraid to look critically at the organization, the players, or the situation.
Operator: How did you get to know him?
Blogger: Well, Light the Lamp (LTL) was the first blog I read outside of the Puck Rakers.  He offered valuable counter point to the beat writers, and gave me something I craved more than anything, perspective.

On Light The Lamp

It's one of those things that I really wish I hadn't gone to the trouble to investigate.

The 2012 Central Division Tweet Up

On July 28th, 2012, Columbus will host the first of it's kind Divisional Tweet Up. Tweet Ups have happened at NHL events and on local team levels, but never before has this been done on a Divisional level. Fans from all NHL Central Division teams will descend on Columbus, OH on July 28th.

Each teams charitable Foundation has sent autographed memorabilia to be raffled away. In addition, the NHL Alumni Association has sent a hockey jersey with 28 former NHL players autographs on it, four of those signatures are members of the Hockey Hall of Fame. 100% of the proceeds from these raffles will go back to the charitable Foundations.

This event will feature music provided by the Columbus Blue Jackets in-arena DJ, Nick Johnson (@CBJ_DJ), and videos from each of the Foundations. The penultimate video has been produced by Tom Larrow (@Skraut_) and will feature all five teams of the Central Division. Anyone who has seen the videos that Tom produces knows this will be special and of high quality.

This event is also two-fold, as the first part takes place at the Buffalo Wild Wings (Grandview), with the second, more relaxed part taking place at the R Bar in the shadow of Nationwide Arena. The R Bar will also be holding raffles throughout the evening.

There is more information at the 2012 CDTU Facebook page.

We hope to see many of you there for the shared love of the game of hockey. What better way to spend a Saturday in the middle of the off-season than among hockey fans?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A STH asks: Why does Rick Nash have to be traded?

[Every now and then, I get an email that I just have to share.  This one just came in from a Blue Jackets season ticket holder, and he's got a few questions and a lot of perspective.  I'll cut to the letter (edited only to correct the spelling of one person's name), then try to offer some thoughts on the other side. - DBJ]

Do the Blue Jackets HAVE to trade their captain?
(Photo courtesy of Chris Blake)
I have been watching the "Rick Nash Saga" for months.  Eating up as much information as I can.  I am a Blue Jacket fan.  I am a season ticket holder.  I choked down my pride and my better judgement when I renewed my tickets for next year … not to be able to buy All-Star tickets, but to go to games with my sons.  And I don't understand something.  I would love for the hockey heads out there to tell enlighten me,  impart on me some wisdom.  Because from where I sit, something stinks … and it's not just the Blue Jackets track record.  So I will send this letter to the bloggers and the reporters hoping someone posts it, or responds to it with some insight.  Forward it to someone who has an answer, I know it's long, but it is a serious question.

Why does Rick Nash have to go?  I mean, I know why he WANTS to go.  I want to go as well, but I can't.  I would love to get as far away from this catastrophe of a franchise as is fanatically possible.  But I'm not moving my family and will be stuck with the Jackets despite the management and the subpar effort.  Years of losing, broken or dissolved promises, and ridiculously erratic and aimless leadership would make me want to leave as a player.  But why does he HAVE to go?

Bobby Ryan v Carter. Anson that is...

It has been a long and torturous day on the Rick Nash trade front.  The most interesting thing has been the amount of vitriol thrown at Nash, and the fact that Howson is refusing to part with his star for anyone's left over pieces-parts.  I suppose as a fan I should feel awkward about having to defend a guy that wants to leave.  I'm a season ticket holder, shouldn't I be offended that the guy asked out?

Look, Nash is not Sisyphus.  If he knows he doesn't have it in him to roll the rock up the mountain one more time, he's being honest about it.  On another team, he won't be rolling the rock up the mountain on his lonesome, so has a good chance of being more successful than he was here.

But I'm getting tired of people trolling Nash, our franchise, and the fair City of Columbus just because we won't roll over and play dead for the big city teams out there.  So I thought I'd do some comparing and contrasting.  Sometimes that way provides clarity.  What does Anson Carter have to do with all this?  Well first of all, it doesn't have to do with criticizing Anson Carter.  He is who he is, he has a nice gig on NHL network, and I wish him well for it.  What it DOES have to do with, is the influence a pair of good line mates can have on a player.  Say for instance, the Sedin Twins.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A tale of two letters

Two franchises were born out of the same NHL expansion year (2000).

One franchise's owner wrote this to his team's fans on January 27:

January 27, 2012

Dear [DBJ],

My father held a longstanding belief that a major league sports franchise would prove an important catalyst in the growth and development of Columbus. After more than 30 years of effort, the opportunity to make his belief reality presented itself with the NHL awarding a franchise to Columbus in 1997. To my mind, it is clear he was right in his vision. With the Blue Jackets and the Arena as the anchor, Nationwide Insurance has brought vibrancy to our downtown in the Arena District that simply wouldn't have happened without the team.

That said, there is no question our on-ice performance is nowhere near what it needs to be. All of you are disappointed and many are angry. I and the entire Blue Jackets organization share these feelings. I thought as we approached mid-season at the All-Star break, it would be a good time to reflect on where we've been and offer some thoughts about how we go forward. We have taken actions and will continue our push to improve.

Toward the end of last season, we did a thorough evaluation of our team's strengths and weaknesses. From there, a plan was developed balancing our needs against our tradable assets. During the summer, we believed we executed the plan well and took a good step forward. Most people seemed to agree and we were excited for the season to start.

Unfortunately and surprisingly, we opened the season terribly and have struggled ever since. Disappointing is not a strong enough word.

We began looking at why our team was not performing at an acceptable level very early this season and assessing where we are and where we want to go. We added Craig Patrick, an experienced and highly respected figure in the hockey community, as a senior advisor to assist in this endeavor. While this process is not complete, we have clearly defined our options and are finalizing our plans.

I understand you want to know what we're going to do to fix this, but it is important for us to maintain a degree of discretion to prevent putting ourselves at a competitive disadvantage. I can tell you action will be taken in the coming weeks and months, be it around the trade deadline, the entry draft and/or free agency that will be indicative of our direction.

Our goal as an organization is to build a team that wins consistently and competes for the Stanley Cup. Anything less is unacceptable! Everything we do in the coming weeks, months and years will be done to that end and everyone in our organization - myself, management, staff, coaches and players - will be held to that standard.

I am very thankful and appreciative of the dedication and passion you have shown as a Blue Jackets fan and I am committed to giving you a team of which you can be proud.


John P. McConnell

Monday, July 2, 2012

The CannonFest Logo Contest starts....NOW!

OK, kiddos, enough of you have spoken that we're going to try this CannonFest Logo Contest thing out.


The purpose of the CannonFest Logo Contest is to create a unique brand identity for the third annual offseason gathering of Columbus Blue Jackets fans, which will be held on Sunday, August 19, 2012 at Buffalo Wild Wings in Grandview.

Graphic designers are encouraged to submit entries for the contest between now and 11:59 PM on July 10.  Public online voting will commence on July 11 and will conclude at 11:59 PM on July 13.  The design with the most votes (using the Instant Runoff Voting model at DemoChoice.org) will be announced on July 14.

The logo will be used in graphic content such as event signage and my (DBJ's) funny little CannonFest ads that will start popping up once this contest is over.  It will also be used to create CannonFest t-shirts, the proceeds from which will go to the Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation.  It is possible that the logo could be used for other unforeseen purposes related to CannonFest.

Your opening day of free agency summary

Not the wildest opening day, but by no means the worst.  Here's the skinny:
My thoughts on the transactions (and the non-transaction) are posted at DBJ Plus at Fox Sports Ohio for your reading pleasure.