Friday, August 31, 2012

Ground Floor: The 2012-13 Columbus Blue Jackets

The sports saying goes that while it is enjoyable to live life in your league's penthouse, the real fun is in taking the elevator ride to the top.

The transformation from a failed team into a champion brings a host of memories, be they from overcoming internal obstacles and demons to finally defeating those who have profited at one's expense for years and years.  It will involve that return - finally - to the playoffs and perhaps lead to a championship.  Above all, however, the elevator ride is the time where a collection of players and coaches finally become a genuine team.

The Columbus Blue Jackets, fresh off their 30th place finish in the 2011-12 National Hockey League season, are ready to start their elevator ride.  They will be making their journey with a very different cast of characters than we've been used to seeing in Ohio's capital city.

Superstar forward and team captain Rick Nash is gone, as is the arguable 2011-12 team MVP, goaltender Curtis Sanford.  Defender Marc Methot will be patrolling another blue line.  The Jeff Carter experiment is over.  Antoine Vermette, Grant Clitsome, Sammy Pahlsson, Aaron Johnson...all playing elsewhere.

No current Blue Jacket played with the team prior to the 2007-08 season.  In fact, the most tenured CBJ player now is Jared Boll.

Replacing those familiar faces are the likes of Sergei Bobrovsky, Brandon Dubinsky, Nick Foligno, Artem Anisimov, Adrian Aucoin, Tim Erixson and Ryan Murray.  They came by trade, through free agency and the draft and now are going to be looked to for meaningful contributions as the club works to change its recent fortunes.

Interim head coach Todd Richards is now under contract for two seasons, and he added former head coach Craig Hartsburg and Keith Acton to his staff while seeing Brad Berry move along to other challenges.  Only Dan Hinote remains from the staff that started the 2010-11 season.

The Blue Jackets are at the ground floor. They have nowhere to go but up.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Are the CBJ having phun with Photoshop?

Exhibit 1: The masthead of today's blast email from the team to ticket package holders.

What is up with those gloves?  Does Wiz really have shockingly bright red trim and "21's" on the wrists?

Looks embellished to me.  Toward what purpose, I have no idea.

(I fully expect to be informed that those ARE James Wisniewski's gloves, by the way.  But tell me that they don't look doctored up.)

UPDATE: Reader Dave tweeted me this full-body shot of Wiz.  Guess the gloves are legit.

Case closed.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

And Now for Something Completely Different

My buddy Bill has a saying that the hockey season never turns out the way you expect it to in the preseason.  This has been made abundantly clear to me over the last few seasons, where my preseason optimism is crushed by the reality of the season.  Things just don't always go the way you want them to go, which is why they play the games.

In early 2012, ownership said that they were intent on reshaping the team.  The team the Columbus Blue Jackets are currently planning to field for the 2012-13 season (if played) has seen a lot of change since the 2011-12 team.  From the perspective of a season ticket holder, the upcoming season (if played) stands to be very entertaining.  While the team has not experienced a great deal of success in the past, there is a very new bunch of players that will take the ice.  Win or lose, it won't be the same cast of characters, which should be entertaining, and it will be completely different.

The only people who are currently predicting the fate of the 2012-13 CBJ are the 'know-it-all' national pundits, who predict the team will fail abysmally in everything it does.  While I might counter that "Not Winnin' for McKinnon" is a viable long term strategy for a franchise with 3 first round draft picks in what is looking to be a very strong 2013 draft, this type of argument is a lot like having "games in hand".  They don't mean anything until you do something with them.  So that will be a subject for some future post.

The reality of the 2012-13 season (if played) is that the team HAS been reshaped.  And I'd like to talk some about how it has been reshaped after the jump.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

CannonFest 2012 and associated thoughts

[For my wider-scope overview of the goings-on at CannonFest, check out my post at Dark Blue Jacket Plus at FOX Sport Ohio.]

Yup, I was the idiot who brought the fancy camera and then worked the check-in table - making photo-taking impossible.  Met a ton of cool people and "May you win free beer" more often than I can recount, but no pictures.  Sigh.

So in lieu of a photo-filled recap, allow me to simply share the universally-held highlight of the day, Tom Larrow's great fan videos.


Friday, August 17, 2012

About those CannonFest tickets

Greg, Matt and I want to thank everyone who registered in advance and obtained free tickets for CannonFest 2012.  Your willingness to play along with our "How many people are going to come out this time?" parlor game helped us get a sense of what size venue we needed...and, eventually, informed us about how we needed to use the generous space that has been afforded to us at B-Dubs in Grandview.  We hope that your assistance results in a fun afternoon of hockey talk and general mirth on Sunday for all involved.

As a special, additional "thank you" to those who have signed up for tickets, we will be circulating an email to  ticket holders only with a special offer.  This offer will never see the light of day on our respective blogs.  Hopefully you'll like what you see.

Expect the email to drop late this evening, probably no later than midnight.  If you are planning on attending and have dragged your feet on getting tickets, there's still time!  Run on over to our EventBrite CannonFest page and sign up.  If you've already signed up for tickets, you don't need to do anything...yet.

See you all on Sunday!

Glass Bangers, CBA Pre-Lockout edition


The mind wanders as we ramble through the nether-regions of the NHL's late-offseason.  At least Blue Jackets fans have CannonFest to talk about, seeing as the National Hockey League is giving us bupkus.

I mean, all that we have to talk about is the projections for the upcoming season (The Hockey News' season preview yearbook arrived this past week), and the question of the day vis a vis the CBJ appears to be whether or not the team can avoid landing in the NHL sub-basement again.  Forget the "Are they improved?" or "Can the CBJ return to the playoffs?" queries.  It's "Can they avoid being as bad as they were last season...which was really bad?"  Not exactly inspiring stuff and, as I'll discuss in my forthcoming Season Preview post, a rather silly discussion to have.

Wait, what's that? Commissioner Bettman finally fessed up that the NHL is planning to lock out the players if they do not get a new collective bargaining agreement by September 15th?  OK, now we have something substantial to talk about.


If anyone is legitimately shocked or surprised at the notion that the NHL owners had a hyper-aggressive bargaining position up their sleeves, go to the back of the room and stand in the corner.  Were you not paying attention?  I mean, seriously:
  1. The National Football League locked out their players for 18 weeks (pretty much all offseason) prior to the 2011-12 season while trying to extract a host of concessions from the players - not the least of which was an 18 percent, across-the-board salary cap cut.
  2. The National Basketball Association locked out their players for 161 days (essentially the second half of 2011) while trying to extract a host of concessions from the players - not the least of which was a 40 percent, across-the-board salary cap cut.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Fun with Goal Tending

Future Goal Tender Anton Forsberg
You may think from the picture at the right that this post is about our stable of young goal tenders and their potential.  Nope.  They are young goal tenders.  Who knows what tomorrow will bring?  For now they need to ply their trade and gain experience.

This post is about vacation.  Ahhh.  Vacation.  At the beach.  The one where Mrs. Gallos goes out before the vacation and rummages through the bargain pile at Half Price Book Store and comes home with a couple of hockey books.  So I'm reading this book, I get to one point, and my jaw kind of drops, and I think 'this will make a good post!'  So here we are.

I'm going to talk about three goal tenders.  I am going to call them A, B, and C.  And it is very interesting to compare their statistics for a particular season.  The abbreviations are save percentage (SV%) and Goals Against Average (GAA).

Goalie A SV% .899, GAA 3.02
Goalie B SV% .899, GAA 3.02
Goalie C SV% .894, GAA 3.39

If you had to choose, which goalie would you want?

Friday, August 3, 2012

Rick Nash puts an ad in today's paper...

...and it's a really nice gesture to the fans.

Oh jeez, wrong ad.  Sorry.  Let's see, rummage through the Nash ad file...

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Quick thoughts on "Before The Battle"

As I've mentioned over at the Dark Blue Jacket Plus at Fox Sports Ohio, I'm a big fan of behind the scenes/"documentary" shows related to the issues I care about - and the sports teams I enjoy following.  I've had fun watching HBO's 24/7 "Road to the Winter Classic" and the Canadian "Oil Change" shows, but they weren't about my team - the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Tonight, "Before the Battle" changed that.  We got some behind the scenes Blue Jackets footage, largely focused on the days leading up to the NHL entry draft.  Frustratingly, the audio in the pre-draft interviews with a pimp-a-liciously dressed Griffin Reinhart and Ryan Murray left to be desired...and that's the only spot in the show where we were privy to more than a context-absent audio clip.  (Blame the air conditioner in the hotel room, I've been told.)  That being said, Murray's interview and post-draft parade left me with the indelible impression that the kid is totally unflappable.

As for the rest of the draft coverage, I suppose my bar is probably too high but I felt that it could have told us more.  I enjoy hearing CBJ GM Scott Howson tell people on the other end of the line that he's holding his draft pick, but I'd be interested to know WHO it was that he was talking to.  I want to know which players the scouts were talking about.  I appreciate the delicate nature of putting such information in the public dialogue, but it's still worthwhile to put that out there.