Thursday, September 27, 2012


Why yes, I am shouting.  Thanks for asking!  Today Puck Daddy broke the news that John Davidson worked out his release from the St. Louis Blues.  This is an unprecedented opportunity to add known, bona fide hockey talent to the front office.  While its popular to bash Doug MacLean in these parts for the job he did as President and General Manager, one thing that Doug did exceptionally well was to be an effective front man for the organization.  John Davidson, a former TV hockey announcer, has the ability to take this to a new level.  While I will get to the issue of general performance in a bit, it can truly be said that Mike Priest, Scott Howson, and Craig Patrick cannot be effective front men for the organization in the public eye.  They all have their individual strengths, but that role is not among them.

Indulge me for a moment while I shout again.  HEY!  NATIONWIDE!!  NEW MINORITY OWNER!!  YOU ADVERTISE YOUR PRODUCT BY HIRING EFFECTIVE REPRESENTATIVES!!  JOHN DAVIDSON FITS THAT ROLE!!  Sorry.  I was carrying on a conversation with one of our minority owners.  Ahem.

John Davidson was a goalie for the New York Rangers when Craig Patrick became GM.  Those two go WAY back.  This is an opportunity to significantly upgrade the 'hockey smarts' department in our executive leadership.  Mike Priest, you did your job.  We have a lockout, but the team is not now paying for the arena.   Well done laddie.  Time to move up into an upper level job at Worthington Steel.  Now its time to hand the reins to a hockey man.  John Davidson has the experience to be a president of the organization, and the personal weight to carry off the role of face of the organization.  Mike, you did a great job as a successful business man working in the back rooms of Columbus.  But now its time to move on.

Craig Patrick and Scott Howson make an effective team, as Howson is a good, younger guy, to take Patrick's overall hockey knowledge and put it to work.  This is an opportunity to grow that level of 'hockey smarts' at the executive level by more than a third.  Excuse me while I indulge in a bit more shouting.


Use the money you are saving to hire John Davidson.  Remember this Mr. McConnell.  You need someone to explain to the hockey fans in Columbus why the All-Star Game has been canceled.  Do you really want Scott Howson or Mike Priest to handle this job?  What ever money John Davidson commands is well worth the expenditure for this moment.

Sorry for all the shouting folks.  For a hard luck franchise, this is an opportunity of a life time.  Recognizing the opportunity is one thing.  That's our job.  Capitalizing on it is up to the organization.  Its time to show you can Get 'er Done!


No preseason for you!

And that's that.

The National Hockey League cancelled the balance of the (official) 2012-13 preseason.

Seeing as the NHL and the NHL Players Association aren't willing to discuss "economic issues" (read: How to split $3.3 billion in revenues) right now, is it safe to assume that regular season games will be following soon?

So....uhhh.... Has anyone seen any good movies recently?  Read a book that they'd like to recommend?  How about a favorite recipe?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Of course it had to happen to Columbus

Per the Ottawa Citizen (via the Dispatch), we learn that the first cancelled preseason game is the "Hockeyville" exhibition between the Toronto Maple Leafs and...the Columbus Blue Jackets.

This is getting old.

With apologies to the estate of Charles Schultz...but is there a more apt analogy?

I'm locked out and I know it

From L.A. Kings blogger extraordinaire The Royal Half:


Monday, September 17, 2012

Did President Obama force John P McConnell's hand?

I love the role of Government and National Leadership.  I hate, hate, hate politics and roller hockey guys.  That being said, two of my favorite politicians are Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton.  Regardless of their individual politics, those two guys could work a room, crack a smile, sincerely get conversation started, and at least make you think that Washington was about solving the problems of constituency.  But sadly, Washington today is not unlike NHL ownership: moderates on either side of the aisle are gone from roles of leadership, good discussion can't be found, the other guy says the other guy's plans won't work, and fans (voters) are left either enraged or apathetic.  Wow, that got deep.

One could only image what the Gipper said
to make Slick Willey blush. "An NHL team in Little Rock?!?"
Much like the voice over in Bladerunner, I debated on whether to do this this piece.  The NHL lockout and the Presidental campaign are tired, encumbering pieces of news.  For this piece to be thought provoking you have to buy into two things: 1) the notion that John P McConnell is using his wealth gained from being a share holder of Worthington Industries to help fund the Blue Jackets as they continue to lose money.  Without reviewing a tax return no one can confirm this, but I wouldn’t speculate this point if it was just something I heard “some guy say.”  2) Clear your mind of politics young Jedi and focus on some tax code facts.  Don't worry, there are plenty of links to follow and I don't bash the President.

NHL revenue is at an all-time high as is the net worth of all NHL franchises (or are they?).  The Columbus Blue Jackets are an NHL franchise in shambles both on the ice and financially.  The majority owner of the Blue Jackets, John P McConnell, has been using his own money to help minimize the teams loses and supplement operating capital.  Financially, it makes sense to put money back into the franchise, even if your team doesn’t turn a profit, provided the amount of money supplied to cover the losses doesn’t out strip the growth of Net Worth. Oh no, I’ve gone cross-eyed.  Bear with me here...

Father and Son.  Son, with the "Ray Bourque" inspired hair-do.
John P McConnell is putting money from his own pocket back into the money losing Jackets, much like any start up business owner with a bad lease would do.  A portion of this income that is put back into the Blue Jackets is generated by the dividend payments from his Worthington Industries Stock (along with other investment income).  Let’s do some simple math.  John P McConnell owns 1,238,014 shares of Worthington Industries.  Let’s assume he can do what he wants with each of those shares (I skipped some fancy compensation/stock option stuff here) and just collects dividend payments from them.  In 2011, the dividend payment was 42 cents per share, or $519,965 on 1,238,014 shares.  With the current tax code in place, that leaves JPMac with $441,970 to put back into the Blue Jackets after dividend taxes.  It’s not a huge number, but that portion could cover payroll for grunts in the ticket sales department and the equipment staff – commoners like us.

The current augmentations to the US Federal tax code expire on December 31, and it's very likely that folks making more than $200,000 a year, or couples making more than $250,000 per year will see significant tax increases on investment income.  Screw the rich?  Well, that's up to you to decide.  But whether you’re a fourth line grunt on a 30th place hockey team or Warren Buffet, a significant tax hike is coming.  One law is already scheduled to take effect January 1st and will not be repealed is the PPACA – a 3.8% surcharge on all investment income to those making $200/$250k or more.  Two more significant tax increases are coming for dividends payments in the form of the expiration of the EGTRRA and JGTRRA.  The expiration of these two nearly doubles or triples the dividends tax for every American citizen but essentially it moves the tax on dividends from 15% to 39.6% for Mr. John P. McConnell’s (and Derek Dorsett's) tax bracket.

The evil rich - yes, he is in the same tax
bracket as Warren Buffet. #BecauseHesRich
When Majority owner John P McConnell does his taxes in April of 2013, the percent of tax on dividends goes from 15% to 43.4% (39.6 + 3.8 = 43.4) - Which turns that $519,965 into $291,180 (instead of $441,970) after taxes.  Wow, that's a big decrease whether you care about the rich or not.  My family pays $300 a month + travel expenses for my son to pay travel hockey.  If my taxes more than doubled, you know the first thing to get cut?  HOCKEY.  My son can play house hockey – or likely make the Dublin Scioto Varsity team as a 6th grader.  Anyways, the amount of available income John P McConnell has to spend on the Columbus Blue Jackets from his own pocket will go way down.  That same hobby horse is rumored to have lost 8 figures last year.  Even with the arena deal in place, he could still be millions underwater with the Blue Jackets if this season was played as planned.  His team is still slated to loose money under the current revenue system and he's about to pay double on investment income that he reinvests into the team.  How is John P McConnell in ANY WAY MOTIVATED to keep the Blue Jackets running under these conditions?   

John McConnell is in no way a victim here.  By voting for a lockout he literally gave Franklin county and Nationwide Area the proverbial middle finger.  To me, this is inexcusable.  Still, John P McConnell will have much less of that discretionary income as of January 1st, 2013 - considerably much less money to put into da Blue Jackets.  I’d be tired of putting money back into a losing franchise too, especially if the federal government reduced the available after tax funds I could put back into a loser hockey team.  HOWEVER, there is a point when you need to be considerate of the folks you directly employ (the Blue Jackets franchise) and folks you indirectly employ (the hot bartenders in the arena district) - the lasting image of a labor lockout: the poor huddled masses longing to gain income from 41 home games.  The image of the lockout I have in my head is one of Gary Bettman walking around in his office well after midnight in nothing but a goalie cup and sock garters saying to himself, "Who Run Barter Town?"  The NHL lockout metaphor runs deep in that film clip, no?

Not one, not two, not three, not four, but five - I want five NHL lockouts
It’s painful to see a juxtaposed John P McConnell - and possibly a Mad Max themed Gary Bettman.  A man beleaguered by his hockey team’s performance and it's subsequent profitability.  He is further frustrated by the 35% less personal cash resources he'll have to put back into the team in order to minimize losses – Red or Blue, every fan of the CBJ should understand that impact on the team.  What is a rich guy to do?  What is a fan to do?  If you are like me, when you go to polls in November and don’t know which idiot to vote for – vote for the presidential candidate that wants to get an individual majority owner more cash to put back into his floundering NHL franchise. But seriously, I honestly don't care which way you vote so long as you get out there and do it.  Sons and daughters of this great nation haven't died so you can whine about an NHL lockout on twitter, they've died so you can get out there and vote for sheriff, congressmen, and Presidents.  Still, I can't fight the feeling that a noticably increased tax on dividend payments didn't influence money losing owners to vote for a lockout.  Too bad we can't vote on NHL commissioners, right?  See, Oligarchy.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Columbus Blue Jackets' letter to ticket package holders

You may have seen the official statement of Columbus Blue Jackets president Mike Priest on the lockout, but here's the official word from the ticket office to ticket holders.

September 16, 2012
Dear [DBJ],

As you may be aware, the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players' Association expired on September 15 and unfortunately, a new agreement has yet to be reached. It is the League's objective to successfully conclude negotiations for the new Agreement as soon as possible and avoid any delay in starting the 2012-13 NHL season. However, in the event a new Agreement is not reached in this timeframe and the work stoppage causes games to be officially cancelled by the National Hockey League, the Blue Jackets have established the following options for payments related to games cancelled.


Option 1: Keep Money on Account and Receive a Credit of 4% Toward Future Ticket Purchases
  • Season ticket payments can be left on your account with the Blue Jackets and applied towards future ticket purchases such as remaining payments towards additional tickets for the 2012-13 season (i.e. single game tickets, group tickets, suite rentals, additional season tickets or playoff tickets) and/ or the renewal of your season tickets for the 2013-14 season.
  • Season Ticket Holders electing this option will be provided a credit of 4% calculated using simple interest. Interest will be calculated from the point at which a particular game is cancelled to the last day of the month for which the credit is owed.
Option 2: Request a Refund For Payments Related to Games Officially Cancelled
  • Season Ticket Holders requesting this option will be provided a full refund for any games officially cancelled.
  • Refunds will be processed within ten (10) business days of the last day of each month beginning in November and will be based upon the number of games officially cancelled in the applicable month.
  • Refunds will be processed using the same method of original payment (i.e. if you purchased your Blue Jackets ticket package using a credit card we will issue a credit to that same credit card). If you paid for your tickets with cash or check, we will issue a check made payable to the Season Ticket Holder of Record and mailed to the address we have on file. Please log on to to verify that we have your current address on file.
  • We will credit the payments we have received to date against the last regular season home game (Home Game 45) and work backwards (Games 44, 43, 42, etc.). For example if under your payment plan you've only paid 60% of the total amount due for your tickets, your credit will be applied against the final 60% of the scheduled games (Home Games 19-45).
  • For those on monthly payment plans, we will continue to process the automatic payments you have authorized your bank or credit card company to make to us until we have received payment equivalent to the value of two-thirds of the games in your package. For example, this would be 30 games (i.e. Home Games 16-45) for a full season ticket holder.
  • In the event the work stoppage extends into the season, this plan is designed to keep your account current until games resume. When games resume, if the number of home games scheduled exceeds the number we have received payment for, we will reinstitute the automatic payments you have authorized your bank or credit card company to make to us. The remaining payments will be determined by taking the balance due and dividing the amount by the number of months remaining between the point the work stoppage ends and February 20 which is the last date we accept payments for the 2012-13 season. This plan also refunds your money if the number of cancelled games exceeds the percentage of the season you paid for. If we reach the point where the percentage of the season cancelled exceeds the percentage of your payments, we will offer you the same options outlined above for customers who are already paid in full - i.e. option to receive a refund or keep your money on your account and receive a credit of 4% calculated using simple interest that you may use in a variety of ways as outlined earlier in this letter.
With regards to your Blue Jacket Season Pass(es), you will receive your new digital ticket cards shortly after the conclusion of the work stoppage. Also, if you are interested in purchasing pre-paid parking in the parking lots surrounding Nationwide Arena, we will send you an email with the appropriate links to purchase parking following the conclusion of the work stoppage.

Again, it is the hope of all involved that agreement on the terms of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement will be reached quickly and that there will be no interruption or change in the original schedule of games for this season. However, as a valued season ticket holder we wanted to make sure you are aware that contingency plans are in place should any pre-season and /or regular season games be missed. Your support and loyalty is not something we take lightly or for granted. It is important to us that you remain an integral part of our team for many seasons to come. In the near future, you will be contacted by your personal Blue Jackets representative [name inserted] to answer any questions you may have regarding the options outlined above. If you would like to discuss your options before then, please feel free to contact [name] at [phone]. We also have answers to a number of Frequently Asked Questions posted on our website. Please click here to see the Frequently Asked Questions related to the NHL Work Stoppage.

Again, thank you very much for your passion, loyalty and support. We hope to see you at Nationwide Arena soon.



Bob Sivik
Vice President, Ticket Sales & Service

By the way of comparison, here's a list of what teams are offering different percentages of interest for not cashing out:
I also was informed that the Blue Jackets offered 6 percent in the last lockout.

If more teams' policies become available, I'll update.

Friday, September 14, 2012

It's pre-lockout CBJ Foundation golf outing photo caption time!

We're just over one day until the NHL locks out its players.  Negotiations, by every account I can see, have stalled.  And...the Columbus Blue Jackets are golfing.

The CBJ Foundation apparently is holding its annual golf outing today.  I'm not going to begrudge the Foundation for an event that surely was scheduled long ago, nor am I going to begrudge the team and its (for now) players for giving their time to help the charitable causes of the Foundation.

But tell me the irony isn't there.  One of the NHL's most reliable teams for springtime golf over the past 12 seasons, taking to the course once again as their season crumbles around them.

Here's the team photo, drawn from the Blue Jackets' Instagram feed:

Try coming up with a caption or two.  (If you're going to crack on Dubinsky's pants, by the way, make sure it's good because that joke is just too easy.  But double points if you can come up with a good one for the lurker behind Ryan Johansen.)

Mine: Steve Mason puts on a brave face as his teammates talk behind his back again, this time literally.

Good luck!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

John P. McConnell voted to lock out the NHL players

CBJ Majority Owner John P. McConnell
Well, either he did or his alternate governor, Mike Priest.  For NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman informs us that the Board of Governors voted unanimously to lock out the NHLPA's members.  Unanimous means everyone, which means that the Blue Jackets ownership voted for the lockout.

This is a Blue Jackets blog, so I'm not going to comment on the vote taken by the other 29 teams' owners.  I wouldn't pretend to understand their motivations.  I'll also admit that I'm not intimately familiar with the motivations of the Blue Jackets ownership, but I've pieced together a handful of reasons why a lockout in Columbus probably would hurt our community as bad as, if not worse than, any other NHL community.

Remember, the owners could have voted to skip the lockout, play the season under the expired collective bargaining agreement rules and keep negotiating with the players.  To a man, they voted not to do so.

I honestly don't know what to do with this development.

As a fan of the club, I feel betrayed.

As a fan of Columbus, Ohio, I'm downright scared about the future of NHL hockey in this town.  I hope that  my community can survive a second lockout in the team's first 12 years, but it seems like a stretch.

Hold on tight, everyone.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Lock Out Dropouts: The 700 Club

Each lockout has its casualties.  The fans suffer, arena employees suffer, beat writers really suffer.  With each lock out, a meaningful legacy or notable milestone slips through the fingers of some deserving player.  But, in my opinion, there has not been a significant milestone affected more than the elite 700 club during the “Lockout Era.”

The 700 club is a group of NHL players who have scored 700 regular season goals in their illustrious NHL careers.  That list is currently at six glorious names: Wayne Gretzky (894), Gordie Howe (801), Brett Hull (741), Marcel Dionne (731), Phil Esposito (717), and Mike Gartner (708).  There are three retired players who went through at least one NHL lockout that almost got to 700 goals: Mark Messier (694), Steve Yzerman (692), and Mario Lemieux (690).  It’s reasonable to think that the lockouts in 94-95 and 04-05 have kept these Hall of Famers from reaching the club.

I must break you.
Mark Messier was the first casualty of the lockout era 700 club.  Messier only went through one lockout in 94-95, but any reasonable hockey fan could realistically deduce that if The Moose had been able to participate in all 82 games that season, it was very likely he would have scored the 6 goals needed to get to the special 700.  Woulda coulda shoulda, but in my humble opinion Messier gets six more goals playing in 38 extra games at that point in his career.

Steve Yzerman played through two lockouts.  Even with the injuries he dealt with the last half of his career, his numbers remained consistent.  Had the 94-95 season not been shortened and the 2004-05 season not eliminated, even an aging bad-kneed Yzerman could have mucked out the 8 goals he need for 700 goals in those missing 120 games.  This is the singularly the easiest argument to make for a lockout ruining a very special achievement.

Mario Lemieux.  Lemieux was recovering from radiation treatments and dealing with back injuries during the first lockout, so I cannot make the argument that the first lockout affects his career goal totals.  By the second lockout, Lemieux was further limited by injury and treatment.  A healthy Lemieux in those final years easily  gets the 10 goals he needed for 700.  I like Lemieux, but I can’t blame the two lockouts during his career for missing the magical 700 club.  He courageously battled through injury his entire career - and that is what I attribute to him missing that historical mark. 

Jaromir Jagr, or “Puff Nuts” as Chris Pronger affectionately calls him, has 665 career goals.  He left the NHL to play in Pro Hockey’s version of the Nationwide Series in Russia for three seasons.  He’s cost himself 700 goals to this point so far. No sympathy from me.  But he has a chance to make the 700 club if he plays another 2 full and productive seasons, Pat Robertson jokes aside.

Mullets = Glorious.  Sike.
This will be Teemu Selanne’s third NHL Lockout if it happens. Selanne has been fairly healthy most of his career, which is probably why he’s still contributing as a forward in the “New NHL” after 20 years.  Selanne’s goal totals are 11th all-time at 663, 37 goals shy of the big 700.  Even in his advanced age, quick math tells me Selanne is a .40 GPG player in his past three seasons.  You take a possible 120 games lost to lockouts and calculate his GPG at age 40 which gives him 36 more for 699 career goals entering this season.  But, those 36 goals never happened and it is unlikely that The Finnish Flash will get the 37 goals he needs to reach 700 if parts of this season are canceled. 

Selanne is 42, and I can’t help the feeling that his body is playing with house money.  Selanne has a legitimate chance to contribute 20+ goals this season during 82 games, leaving him only a handful of goals left to reach 700 at the age of 43 next season.  But, if parts of this season are lost, the total amount of games lost to labor disputes will likely cost Selanne 700 goals.  Does "Teddy Flash" have two 20 goal seasons left in him, especially if large chunks of this season are lost?  We don’t know, but if the 94-95 and 2004-2005 seasons went on as scheduled, it is very likely the 2012-2013 season ushers in the 9th member to the 700 club.

Selanne is sporting what I assume is called a "Duxedo."

Monday, September 10, 2012

The 2012-13 CBJ Ground Floor - The Defense

In our Ground Floor discussion of the Columbus Blue Jackets defense for this year, a little comparison is in order.  The starting 6 at the beginning of 2011-12 was as follows:

In 2012-13 we will start with:

James Wisniewski, Jack Johnson, Fedor Tyutin, NikitaNikitin, Adrian Aucoin, and one of John Moore, Ryan Murray, and Tim Erixon.

This represents a turnover of two thirds of the defensive pairings in a year, and a substantial upgrade to the defense.  And depthwise, this represents a huge jump.  Instead of Aaron Johnson battling for the 6th or 7th spot, you have 3, young, talented defenseman, one of whom is a number two overall draft pick.  Behind the three battling for the last spot on the ice, you have Savard, Goloubef, and Prout down in Springfield, all with some level of NHL potential (Prout’s a big dude who looked great during development camp).
Side note:  I don’t mean to belittle Aaron Johnson’s contribution to the squad last year.  He did a great job filling in during some desperate times.  But his ceiling and the ceiling of the three youngsters just don’t compare.

Nikita Nikitin
The defense going into this season is going to be a much more dynamic group.  With Johnson and Wisniewski unleashing ‘controlled chaos’ on the league at the top of the pairs, steadfast Tyutin and Nikitin as the second pair, and steady Aucoin with one of the young D-men Moore or Erixon (assuming Murray in juniors due to lockout at start of season). As we blogged about earlier, this top 4 ranked 4th overall in points last year, if you lump Jack Johnson’s points as a King into our total.  Since the Kings struggled to score for much of the year, this is fair, and if anything, Johnson was doing better at the end of the season with the CBJ. 

To bolster my position that the defense is greatly improved, I compared the cumulative statistics of the starting 6 from 2011-12, to the starting 6 slated for 2012-13 (using Moore as the 6th for 2012-13).  While this is somewhat voodoo economics, it gives you a flavor of what’s going on.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Believe it or not, I'm a Columbus Blue Jackets Fan

I typically don’t use the phrase “Believe it or not” when writing because it ultimately leads to me having “The Greatest American Hero” theme song stuck in my head for hours.  However, believe it or not, I am a Columbus Blue Jackets Fan.  But not a fan in the sense that I see the players as celebrity, I blindly trust the management team, or that I would never say a cross word about the Blue Jackets.  The Blue Jackets are my window to pro hockey.  They are the team that I can pick up the local paper and read about or turn on the local sports radio show and hear about.  They are easy access into a sport I’ve loved as long as I can remember. No one wants to see the Blue Jackets become regularly competitive more than me and my expectations remain high – why shouldn’t they?

There are three shows from the 80's that are unwatchable to me now: Voltron, Thundercats, any guesses on the third?
Personally, being a Blue Jackets fan isn’t entirely different than growing up a hockey player transplanted to Canton, OH in grade school.  When my family moved to Ohio, there was no hockey coverage anywhere, let alone a rink with 25 miles.  Every once in a blue moon, the Canton Repository would list NHL standings on the back page if the Massillon Tigers or Canton McKinley Bulldogs were lean on headlines.  It was the 80’s, so there was only one cable provider in the neighborhood and they didn’t have Sports Channel – No hockey on TV. We got sports illustrated for a couple years.  In doing so, I became accustomed at a young age to reading each issue in reverse order, from the last page to the front page (the punch line being Sports Illustrated buries hockey in the back of each issue).  I was the weird kid in school that wore my Bantam Team jersey to school on spirit day instead of a football jersey.  Hockey was an obscure thing to most folks that didn’t live in the immediate Cleveland area.

I definately need 108" non-waxed laces for my size 8 3/4 Bauer Hockey skate that goes on my right foot.. Definately not 108" for the size 9 Bauer hockey skate that goes on my left foot.  Definately not. 
Fast forward to September 2012 and things haven’t changed too much.  I now live in an Ohio city of roughly 2 million people which happens to have an NHL franchise.  There are actually 2 or 3 kids in my son’s grade who play hockey besides him.  I still read SI from the back of the magazine forward, because I still have to. The only time people in the office talk about hockey is when the Blue Jackets fire someone, trade someone, or reach some miserable milestone.  Not a whole lot has changed in Ohio to truely weave hockey into the fabric of the state's culture, but it has seen modest growth.  However, other things are much more different now for all of sports.  There is twitter, 24 hour sports talk radio, blogs, and something called “Forums” which, if I understand correctly, are where trolls live and George Lucas breaks news.  Incidentally, these modernized forms of social media mean that I no longer have to live in relative hockey obscurity alone.  Definately not.

I’m not going to lie, it is tough being a Blue Jackets fan.  Thanks to social media, any knob with a smart phone can jump on the bashing bandwagon and tease, ridicule and insult the #cbj team and its fans.  It’s easy for them to do, the team is miserable and we fans can open ourselves up to criticism sometimes.  But that doesn’t mean Blue Jackets fans have to take that ridicule lying down.  Don’t think for a minute that it has always been fun times for those other fans who would mock the CBJ.  There isn’t a team in the NHL that hasn’t had its fair share of hard times.  Twitter, blogs, and forums is a place where fans can heap gallons of haterade onto the Blue Jackets just so they can feel better about their own team.  If it were around, I can’t imagine a worse hash tag than #Pens from 1967 to 1987.  I’m still curious what happens if I search #DeadThings, but I digress.

It wasn't always like the "Grind Line" and "The Russian Five" was it?
But you know what?  I remember not too long ago when the Blue Jackets were the darling of Columbus and the arena was alive and electric each game.  No Cannons, No Boomer, No Twitter, No Trolls.  It was a palpable atmosphere that was created by a great mix of hard-working players who inspired a growing fan base eager to see a blue collar group of guys play hard every night.  Nationwide Arena was a tough place to play, not because of a twitter campaign, but because the team inspired the crowd and the crowd made a difference.  Those were the halcyon days and they might be back sooner than you think.

I don’t look at this year’s roster and see playoffs or superstars.  However, I look at the players and I believe this group of guys is capable of bringing back that electric magic to the fans.  That feeling that you knew that every shift all game the guys were going to bring it, and bring it hard.  I see much of that in this year’s Blue Jackets roster.  And you know what, from someone who remembers the pre-lock Blue Jackets, there was no better sporting event than watching the Blue Jackets play a home game at Nationwide Arena.  So, while other fans and media put down the Blue Jackets to feel better about their team’s misery, I’m encouraged as a #CBJ fan that we’re going to have fun watching Blue Jackets Hockey again this season.  I believe that energy is coming back, not from a battle cry, but from the effort we’ll see from the team each game.  I’m looking forward to seeing CBJ Players banging in the corners and mucking one out in front of the net.  I’m encouraged about a better fan experience this season.  But don’t worry, I will continue to bemoan the shortcomings of Blue Jackets in the NHL– but I’ll have a little more fun doing it this coming season, even if I still have to read magazines backwards out of habit…

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Not just another depth pickup

It's been my hope all along to bring the best and brightest Columbus Blue Jackets fan minds to the forefront on this make the Dark Blue Jacket blog a true marketplace of ideas.  I want it to be a place where opinions are valued and respected, where different voices (sometimes contradictory) have their say, where unique perspectives are presented.  In my mind, that's one great blog.  That it discusses Columbus Blue Jackets and NHL hockey...all the better.

To make this happen, I've been fortunate to share the blog with a number of terrific people, some of whose names you know well...and some who only wrote a post or two before going on their way.  Most importantly, I consider myself friends with everyone who's posted on the DBJ blog.

On the cusp of the 2012-13 (non?) season, I'm excited to share that another talented voice and nifty guy will be joining our merry band at the Dark Blue Jacket.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Coulda-shoulda-woulda: Jaromir Jagr

The Blue Jackets tried to sign free agent Jaromir Jagr,
but he chose the Dallas Stars and their larger offer instead.
A fun little tidbit from the Dispatch: The Blue Jackets made a run at signing free agent forward (and, more or less, living legend) Jaromir Jagr earlier in the offseason.

Still a 50-plus point scorer after a zillion years of playing hockey, Jagr would have been a perfect one-year pickup for the Blue Jackets as they try to shake off the feeling of being the 30th place team in a 30-team league.

Dallas eventually signed him, as they offered $300,000 more than the Blue Jackets.  No idea how seriously the Jagr camp was considering Columbus.  It's one thing to fax an offer sheet to an agent - but it's another altogether to be in the running.

Regardless, the Jagr story lends credence to the (Dispatch originated, I think?) story that the Blue Jackets tried to be more aggressive in free agency but couldn't get anyone to bite.  Anyone but Adrian Aucoin, I mean.

Still, it reopens the question box over whether general manager Scott Howson really is a closer.  I don't want to go there (and almost would have rather known that Howson was a conscientious objector from the free agent frenzy this year, perhaps using the looming collective bargaining agreement expiration as a crutch), but the result speaks for itself.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Ground Floor: The 2012-13 CBJ - Executive Floor

As part of our Dark Blue Jacket 2012-13 Ground Floor preview of the Columbus Blue Jackets, it behooves us to take an elevator ride to the floor marked ‘Executive’.  While it might be tempting to toss a bit of verbal abuse in Scott Howson’s direction as we pass down the hall, our real goal in this trip is a stop in Craig Patrick’s work space in the organization.  I debated whether this stop should be the first, or the last, and decided on the former, as it is the vision emanating from this space that drives what we will see next year, and in many ways, gives a sense of clarity to the last half of disastrous 2011-12 season.

Back in mid-December, I took advantage of the opportunity to hear Craig Patrick speak at a season ticket holder open skate, which I describe more fully here.  First off it was very entertaining, providing a glimpse into the life of someone who has lived an awful lot of hockey history.  Much of the journey of being a Blue Jackets fan is attempting to put some perspective on what we are seeing in front of us, at least for me anyhow.  Craig Patrick has perspective born of vast experience.

During this event, the season ticket holders steered the Q & A section in one direction very quickly.  Patrick was asked how he evaluated talent.  The short description of his answer was that he looked for character in a player.  He said you could always find skill, but finding character was more difficult.  In looking forward to our preview, and looking back to the last half of 2011-12, it is clear that in January, the ownership group bought into a re-shaping that was aimed at raising the level of the team’s character, even if it came at the expense of the available skill.  That re-shaping is now complete.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

John P. McConnell should vote NO on locking out the players

Readers of this blog know that I'm not overly optimistic about the National Hockey League owners and the National Hockey League Players Association coming to an amicable resolution of their current labor negotiation before the September 15th lockout deadline threatened by the owners.  Because splitting up the pie after accumulating year after year of record-setting revenues is hard.  Hard like when this guy says, "It's hard."

Things were muddling along up until yesterday.  The owners proposed to whack the current salary structure off at the knees.  The players countered by giving the owners a smaller bat, but with the caveat that the filthy rich teams would have to use some of that player pain to prop up the poorer teams.  The owners came back by switching from their original wooden bat to an aluminum one.  The players supposedly responded with another counter that the owners again dismissed.

And the talks stopped.  Cold.  We're now two weeks away from a lockout with less hope for an agreement than ever.