Monday, December 31, 2012


Boone Jenner in a common location, in front of the net
By all accounts, Columbus Blue Jackets prospect Boone Jenner turned in a whale of a game today in the 2013 World Juniors competition, when Canada defeated Russia 4-1.   Jenner, coming off of a 3 game suspension for lighting up a guy who was skating with his head down (a late hit, no doubt) played very well.  He was dominant in the face off circle, and according to the Twitter feed, at one point killed off ~20 seconds of a penalty simply because the Russians were unable to take the puck back from him.

Jenner's future in Columbus is looking very bright, as he has character stamped all over his playing resume.  Somewhat unexpectedly, he is leading the Ontario Hockey League with 27 goals playing for the Oshawa Generals.    If he can translate even a part of that goal scoring to the NHL level, it will be a huge addition to the team.  I'll bet John Davidson is thrilled to be watching Jenner's performance, as he looks like the type of brick Davidson is planning on building with.  I'll be looking forward to seeing him play in Columbus at some point in the future!


Wednesday, December 26, 2012


John Davidson addresses Season Ticket Holders
I'm still kind of musing about the whole John Davidson thing.  It was good seeing him and the other CBJ folks at the Season Ticket Holder Open House.  There have been good write ups of this event in the Cannon and on Union Blue, so no need for me to try to recap.  But there was one thing that was hugely evident, that John Davidson has the skill set to fill a void that was left in the organization when Doug MacLean was fired.  The role of the front man.  And he's good at it, no ifs, ands, or buts.

And that's a huge thing, no doubt.  But the thing that struck me the most, was his confidence that we would get better.  And when he says 'we won't get out worked', you have to believe him.  I guess the vibe that I got from this is that he has the 'weight' to carry that off.  He is the unquestioned leader of hockey operations.  And he sets the tone.  I don't mean to disparage Scott Howson when I say that I just don't think that sounds the same coming from him.  He could have said 'we won't get outworked', but in the wheeling, dealing, weighing of value life of a General Manager, I'm not sure it makes sense.  I think the dynamics of the last few years would make it very difficult for Howson to make that kind of pronouncement.  It just seems to carry more weight with Davidson, which perhaps it should.  He's the President of Hockey Operations, and that title should have some oomph.  He can tell Howson 'that dude doesn't seem to want to work as hard as we need him to, see what you can get'.  Then Howson has to go make a deal.  So yeah, I think we are gonna have a team that 'won't get outworked'.  And that will sell in Columbus.  It always has.

Frustrated fans at the protest last year had a common refrain that 'real change starts at the top'.  The top has now been changed in a very emphatic way.  John Davidson has great 'hockey' credentials.  He is respected around the league.  And he has been willing to tie his name to the notion that success is going to come in Columbus. And when you hear him talk, you know that is his expectation.  Not his hope, his expectation.  There will be 'curve balls' along the way.  There always are.  

It's easy to tell, whilst prowling the internet, when you see someone who simply has no clue what is happening in Columbus.  They will glibly say that the organization is a candidate for contraction; close Columbus and the southern teams and move them to Canada where they will undoubtedly thrive, because they have looked at the won-loss record.    It kind of makes me chuckle to myself.  They just don't have a clue.  But over the last year the front office has been strengthened like no other organization in the league, with the addition of Craig Patrick and John Davidson.  Those types of moves don't have immediate paybacks, but as time goes on they will build momentum.

In addition, Mike Priest made significant moves to support the arena locally and keep the team from bleeding cash in the lockout.  Clever work, identifying a new revenue stream, then getting the local and state movers and shakers to lend a hand to make the deal work.  Keep in mind that the revenue to support the arena is not dependent upon events, that is just icing on the cake.  So Columbus came into this year shrewdly prepared for the insanity of a lockout (SIGH! Expletive deleted!)

So when John Davidson says to me (and my STH sisters and brethren) 'We will win', I gotta believe him.  It may take time, but for the first time in this franchise's life, we have someone who expects to win at the helm, and who knows how he wants to get there.  And that, my friends, is something of significance.


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas to All

Just wanted to take a moment to wish everyone a Merry Christmas from our band of bloggers.  We really appreciate your continued attention to the expression of our collective hockey problem, and we enjoy the times when you share your thoughts with us.

2012 has indeed been a strange year.  Hold your loved ones close and appreciate them all that you can.  It's hard to tell when the strange twists and turns of life will take the things we enjoy away.  On the joyous side, my compadres have welcomed new additions to their families, so we know that they will have a busy year ahead!

Take care everyone, and here is a Christmas wish for some NHL hockey to grace our lives in 2013!


Saturday, December 22, 2012

On the Road Again

Joonas Korpisalo is playing for Finland in the WJC
Got a couple of things to wrap up here, so I thought I would plunk this stuff down real quick.  All that schlepping into work every morning paid off as I shut off my alarm, got a little extra shut eye, and was still up in time to watch the 6 AM World Junior Championship Prelim round between USA and Finland.

I felt like USA carried the play in the first period, but kept taking stupid slashing penalties.  Finland managed to can one to take a 1-0 lead.  The Refs missed a quick in-and-out shot for the USA that bounced off the back bar of the goal.  I never saw it, half the guys on the ice never saw it, and the refs did not have a functioning replay system to check it, so it passed as one of those things.  The first period ended 1-0 Finland, and they never looked back.  I thought they carried the play through the second period, especially as USA took more penalties, and they pulled away to a 5-1 win in the third period.  Joonas Korpisalo, our 3rd round pick last year looked VERY solid in net for the Finns in the first period and a half before he was rotated out for another goaltender.

Blue Jackets prospect Mike Reilly, a Minnesota Gopher, and an offensive defenseman is a bubble player for USA, who may, or may not make the cut simply because the US has many of that type of defenseman.  He did a good job of jumping up on offense, but couldn't bury any chances, and was victimized on the defensive side with some bad bounces, once deflecting a shot up over the US goaltender for a goal.  He probably did not help his chances with the WJC USA team, but this is a guy to keep an eye on as he develops.

I was not able to follow the second WJC game of the day, Canada vs. Sweden, but according to Twitter, Blue Jackets prospect Boone Jenner may be looking at supplemental discipline for a hit that injured the shoulder of a Swedish player.  Canada won in OT (or a shoot out, I'm not sure).  The WJC officials may not like the hit, but Jackets fans have to love it.  Jenner is having a great year, and if we ever have any stinking NHL hockey may make a real bid to make the CBJ.  He is a great prospect.
Todd Richards addresses the crowd at the CBJ open house

The real reason I wanted to do this post was to close the loop on the Season Ticket Holder open house last Monday.  In this post and this post I engaged in a good discussion with a gent using the handle of Roadman over the merits of trying to leave our good young talent down in the AHL to try to win a championship down there (hence the title of this post).  I mused if we had the 'organizational courage' to leave them down there.  Roadman disagreed with the wisdom of this choice, and advanced several thoughtful ideas about why taking an alternative approach would be better.  Well Roadman, I never got to ask my question, but I found out the answer.

Pride might dictate attempting to say that we were both right, but a factor that neither of us considered would be the driver in the situation, so in the end, I think Roadman was right.  Having the young talent come in and compete for a spot on the big club is the way to go.  I believe that great benefits would derive to the organization from having the young talent complete what they have started in the AHL.  But even if we made that decision as an organization, and back filled the CBJ roster with veterans, injuries would be the deciding factor.  There is no question that if any hockey is played this year, that there will be numerous groin injuries. The end result is that even if we tried to keep the young guys in the A for developmental purposes, the number of injuries that are a near certainty would force our hand, and we would have to call players up from the AHL.  So the answer to my question is that it would not work, that injuries would force our hand, and so you might as well not try to artificially keep them in the A to achieve a secondary goal in the interest of development.  It just wouldn't work.  Of course, since the players in the AHL will be much less susceptible to that type of injury because they have been playing, they will end up with a good opportunity to play in the NHL.

So there it is.  Another great idea, down the tubes.  Ah well, some times you gotta dream.  Thanks for all the feedback Roadman.  It is much appreciated.


Friday, December 21, 2012

DBJ Wayback Machine: DBJ in the land of the Mayans

For the blog's 1000th post back in January, I trekked to the Yucatan and contemplated life as a Columbus Blue Jackets fan in the Mayan port city of Tulum.

Seeing as we've hit the end of the Mayan calendar, I thought it appropriate to fire up the wayback machine.

Jersey number 21?  On the 21st - the last day of the Mayan calendar?  Coincidence...or not?

Enjoy the read.   And it's been nice knowing all of you.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The New NHL

Wait! What?
Well, I attended the season ticket holder open house at the ... ah, man, those *&^%*#s at the Cannon totally scooped me on this!  Dang it!  Man, that Wagner must have the stamina of a camel!  Given the pace of the Twittersphere I might as well be blogging about 14th century politics.  &$^*^%#!!!!  Oh well. Yawn  It was a long night, and maybe stopping back at the R-Bar to lube my throat after a long Q&A session, like the Jacket BackersYawn wasn't such a good idea.  Definitely tired and sleepy.  I can probably stay up ... yawn .. for a bit more.  Stupid lockout.  Snort. Snore.  Fehr....Bettman....Voided contracts......yawn.....snort...have to think.......

Huh?  I must be in a dream sequence (nudge, nudge, wink, wink, know what I mean?)  Where am I?  Oh, this looks like CBJ training camp, 2013-14.  Should be interesting, let's hear what they are saying.

Howsan:  Welcome everyone, to training camp.  Have a seat, I have a few things I need to go over before you start on your physicals.  We'll hit the ice tomorrow.  You are on the hardest working, and most egalitarian team in the NHL!  How about that eh!  Yes sir, without a CBA and all those contracts voided, its really different.  Now the league has asked me to read this statement.  Just a sec.  OK, here we go...

As you know, every player is a free agent this year.  It is the policy of the NHL that no team may discuss with another team its policy for negotiating salaries.  The NHL believes in a free market, and certainly doesn't want to get sued for antitrust violations.  Don't believe what those agents say anyway.

Well, since we know we aren't exactly going to be able to compete with New York and Toronto, who, according to newspaper reports are all ready at $200 million and $210 million in salary respectively, we've decided we needed to take a different approach.  Hoo boy!  No way we can compete with that.  Nope, we've decided that since just about all the other teams rosters are full, you'll be happy to play for our standard, 20 year, $400,000 per year contract.  Just think boys, you'll be making the same amount of money as the President of the US of A!  Yes, I know the contract term seems long, but don't worry, its not guaranteed!  Oh, and don't be thinking you can dog it for a year and get out of that contract, well just send you to the A, because they are all two way contracts.

But just think!  You'll be making the same amount of money as all your teammates!  Well, except for the goal tenders, cause you're screwed without goal tending and they are all crazy anyway.  The good news is we think we can bring payroll in at under $15 million, which means we can slash ticket prices in half, and still be in good shape.  

So we practice tomorrow, then we have a preseason game at Detroit the next day.  Make sure to be here and load your gear on the bus before noon.  What, oh yeah, the bus.  Don't worry about that.  Walt's Sam's outside now making it look mean.  

Plane?  Ha, ha.  Seriously boys.  Where do you think you are going, the West Coast?  Well, no, all that travel stuff was in the CBA, but we don't have one of those anymore.  Where was I, oh yeah, we'll be staying at the Motel 6 in Monroe, but don't worry, we have most of one wing, and I think the crazies all have rooms on the far side of the other wing, so the meth dealers shouldn't bother you much.  This motel is great!  There's an olive garden on one side for those of you looking to go upscale, and a macdonald's on the other for those of you on a budget.  Five star hotel??!!  Ha, ha, ha, are you kidding me??  No, we don't do that any more.  That stuff was all in the CBA!  No, this is one of the finest Motels in the midwest.  And, you'll only be sleeping three to a room!  I'm assuming you'll give the cot to the rookies.  I think you'll find the accommodations clean and comfortable.  Make sure you hit the anytime machine before you leave so you have cash.  What?  Meal money?  Ha, ha, what a bunch of jokers you guys are.

Look, we're paying you as much as the president of the US of A to play a game.  At the rate we're paying this is still the highest paying hockey league in the world!  Well, except for the KHL, but they'll get that figured out pretty quick.  And besides, who ever heard of a bus crashing on take off?  There's lots of guys who would love to make $400 grand a year to play hockey, so if you don't like it someone else will.  

Player 1: I hear Stamkos gets a limo ride to every practice and game!

Howsan:  Of course!  Its freakin' Stamkos.  You're not Stamkos!  And he plays for Toronto anyway.  There's no way we're gonna be able to match what they're doing.  Holy Frijole!  The good news is that our fans get to see them anyway, when they come to play us, but our fans will be paying pennies on the dollar to see them.  A good deal for everyone!

Player 2:  Are we gonna have to see that quack of a doctor you had last year?

Howsan:  Good news boys!  No, you don't need to see the team doctor anymore.  In fact, you're free to go see any doctor you can afford to pay for!  Medical care?  Ha, ha, ha.  Ya, that's another one of those pesky CBA things.  Speaking of pensions, you won't need to worry about that either.  We have a real nice 401(k) you can toss some money in for your retirement.  I understand that if we turn a good profit this year, they may even throw in some matching money.  How about that, eh?!

Well, that just about wraps up today's meeting, any...

Snort, snerk, cough Huh?!!  What's going on?  I fell asleep at the keyboard, and boy, I had the craziest dream....

Disclaimer:  This is a fictional account that does not represent the position of any organization, nor of any person with even 2 neurons firing in their head.  All statements are complete fabrication.  But like all doomsday scenarios, they may contain a grain of truth if you look hard enough.  We are not responsible for any of that.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

All hail the NHL's preemptive lawsuit!

You may or may not have seen that the NHL, facing the possibility of a self-immolating CBA negotiating partner in the NHLPA, has filed a lawsuit in Federal Court in New York demanding that the NHLPA NOT decertify or "disclaim interest".  That's right: After months (years?) of smacking the NHLPA around like a dead mackerel, the NHL is asking a judge to demand that the NHLPA stick around for further flogging.

Oh yeah, such a declaration would prevent players from suing the NHL for anti-trust violations...and triple monetary damage awards from any verdicts.

As a sweetener for the NHLPA to not go forward with their demolition plan, the NHL suggests to the court that the union stick around as the watermelon to their Gallagher, or...this:
The Lawsuit contains  a request made by the NHL that says if the judgment rules that a disclaimer of interest or decertification by the NHLPA is ultimately found to be valid, then all standard player contracts signed under the previous CBA would be void and unenforceable. 
“In the absence of a valid CBA or collective bargaining relationship, the provisions of the NHL [standard player contract]s will no longer have any force of effect,” the lawsuit reads. 
So, basically, everybody becomes a free agent in that scenario.  Would be wild, no? Plus, would mean that Players have no basis to claim damages, since they wouldn't be under Contract.
Every player contract voided?  Everyone's a free agent?  Really?

Now we're talking!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Storm the Schott!!

The Ohio State Band performs Script Ohio on Ice
The agitators over on Twitter are trying to get local hockey fans fired up and at the game this Saturday (December 15, 8:05 PM start time) for a pivotal CCHA match up between the 2nd ranked Miami Redhawks (5th ranked nationally) and our 4th ranked Ohio State Buckeyes.  Wielding the hashtag #StormtheSchott, the Twitterazzi are trying to incite the locals, hopefully to good result.  MISS HOCKEY??  COME OUT TO THE SCHOTT AND CHEER ON THE BUCKEYES!!

The Knucklebucks will be out in force!!
This promises to be a really good match-up.  Last Saturday, Lake Superior State snapped Miami's 8 game unbeaten streak.  Meanwhile, the Buckeyes, after sweeping  2 games from Michigan State two weeks ago, lost to Robert Morris University at home last Friday in non-conference play.  Since the BasketBucks were taking over the Schott on Saturday, the hockey Buckeyes traveled to Robert Morris where they lost in overtime.

While the two losses in non-conference play didn't hurt the Buckeyes CCHA ranking, they do highlight OSU's scoring difficulties.  The Buckeyes will either have to put the puck in the net, or keep Miami off the board in order to win.  Fortunately, they have November Goaltender of the Month Brady Hjelle in net who may well be up for the task.

Miami has Sophmore Forward Austin Czarnik (7g-12a-19pts) and Freshman Riley Barber (7-12-19) who are tied for first in CCHA scoring.  Ohio State counters with 7th place Ryan Dzingel (8-8-14) and 8th place (tied) Tanner Fritz (3-10-13).  The Buckeyes play a tight checking, solid hockey game that Hitch would love under coach Mark Osiecki.  They will have to be at their best against a formidable opponent.  Come cheer the home town boys on!


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Question of Courage

In my last post I discussed a question that I intend to try to ask John Davidson in an upcoming season ticket holder open house.  For convenience, I'll repeat my question here: Do we have the organizational courage to leave the young men in Springfield down there to finish the job if there is a truncated NHL season?

One commenter, roadman, raised some really good points.  So first of all, most importantly.  Thanks for reading.  We appreciate it.  Secondly, and nearly most importantly, thanks for taking the time to comment.  I think its important to hear other perspectives, and be able to consider them.  I thought his comments of sufficient validity and weight to want to take some time to discuss them, other than trying to use a cell phone to reply, an inadequate venue, at best.

His first comment went as follows:
But aren't you also selling a number of these young men a little short? Isn't the reason they have worked all these years, to make an NHL team? Some of these guys have already played in the show, as much as a year in the case of Ryan Johansen. Would you deny them their opportunity to earn an NHL level paycheck?

This is a really great comment, and gets to the down side of what I am asking and suggesting.  Of all the people down at the AHL now, the one most affected is Curtis McElhinney.  Here's a guy who has been an NHL goaltender, gotten injured, got traded, and sent to the AHL.  He is a big part of Springfield's success to date, and of all the players down there, probably most deserves an NHL shot.  But I leave him down there, for a couple of reasons.

First, as an organization, we want to see Mac put in a whole season in goal. He's coming back from an injury , sugery (I think), and we want to see if he's good for the long haul.  Second, bring him up for a truncated NHL season, and we have 3 goalies we are trying out, Mac, Bobrovsky, and Mason.  Mason, short of a 0.65 GAA and 0.96 save percentage in extensive work, won't be back.  There is room for Mac to take a shot next year.  If he gets dinged a little, misses some games at the AHL, he has the room to heal up and come back. He gets brought up into a 3 goalie situation, gets dinged, and his career could be done.  Better to have a stable goal tending situation in Springfield, and have Mac ready and able to come up and compete for the number 1 job next year.

Ryan Johansen at Development Camp
Ryan Johansen most certainly played much of last years NHL season, when he wasn't in the press box.  He played the wing, instead of his natural position, center, until the very end of the season, and was a lot less than dominant.  The Johan should have spent LAST year in the AHL, but he wasn't eligible to be there.  The NHL was the only alternative.  He was not exactly dominant, he was a lot like a rookie in over his head.  Right now, Ryan Johansen is exactly where he should be developmentally, playing big minutes on the number one line at center in the AHL, and emerging as a team leader.  Barring catastrophe, Ryan Johansen will have long, and hopefully successful NHL career.  The CBJ isn't going anywhere in the next 5 years without Johansen, and having him in a position to lead his team in a challenge for the Calder Cup will do much more to prepare him for the leadership role we need him to take on the big club than a few more games in the NHL in a shortened season (IMHO).

Cam Atkinson, Matt Calvert, and Jonathan Audy-Marchessault (JAM) are all kind of cut from the same mold.  The are relatively small, quick skill players.  This is not to diminish in any way their toughness, desire, want, you name it.  These guys are good hockey players.  At the NHL level, you MIGHT be able to get away with two of them on the roster, but that's it.  Don't get me wrong, as a fan I love these guys.  Marty St.Louis isn't big, and look what he's done for the 'Bolts, but you also have to line up against the San Jose Sharks 4 to 6 times a year.  Cam and Matt have done time at the NHL level in the past.  Matt's problems at the NHL level are coming close to derailing his career.  Having one of the largest guys in the game jump you in a pre-season game, resulting in an injury pretty much trashed his NHL hopes last year, along with the CBJ's miserable start, and he didn't exactly tear up the AHL last year.  Another year in the AHL for both of these guys won't hurt them, and will add the maturity necessary to withstand the beating they are going to take in the NHL.

The CBJ have not exactly been stellar in player development.  I would argue that to a certain extent that is a function of being an expansion franchise, and the dearth of talent the comes with the turf when you are in that situation.  So pulling on our experience could be doubtful.  The anecdote I would use to support my line of thought is from Ken Holland, the General Manager of the Detroit Redwings.  In talking about the pre-2004-05 lockout maneuverings when the Red Wings loaded up on high priced veteran talent that all were left to walk in the cap era, Holland referred to the luxury they had of leaving Henrik Zetterburg in Sweden to win a scoring title in the Swedish Elite league.  Obviously, that helped Zetterburg's confidence when he came to the NHL.  My argument is that we, as an organization, have to make that luxury for ourselves, and this year, this time, is the time to do it.  Anything these players might gain out of a short NHL season, they can gain in the AHL.

The second really good comment roadman made was this:
While there is something to be said about working together at the AHL level there are also a number of players on the "Big" club that they can be learning to play with as well. They are going to be around them a lot more years than they will most of the guys in Springfield.

I think this is a really good comment, although I would qualify it. In about 10 of our clubs 12 seasons (assuming a truncated season this year is one of them), I think this comment has a lot of value.  In between the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons I'm not sure it would be true, due to the amount of turn over in the roster.  Of course the other year that would be true is the 2012-13 team.  There has been a complete overhaul of the  CBJ roster.  No one on this team knows each other, and they have to learn to play with each other on the fly this year.  While its possible the youngsters could integrate well into this chaos, its definitely a risk.

On the other hand, taking a long term view, Ryan Johanson, Cam Atkinson (or JAM or Calvert), Tim Erixon, John Moore, David Savard are almost certain to form the CBJs core group going forward over the long term.  With Springfield sitting atop the AHL in the standings, you have a unique opportunity to imbue your future core with experience with winning.  To be frank, this isn't likely to happen with the big club this year.  Keeping these guys together to forge a winning attitude for the future is a priceless opportunity.

Roadman's other really good comment concerns filling the roster and AHL players on other teams:
You have to fill out the roster, the CBJ will need at least 2 Forwards and 2 Defensemen. and to me you ice the best team you can, anything else is just pure and plain TANKING. Do you really think there are 2 forwards and 2 defensemen out there better than Atkinson, Johansen, JAM, Erixon, Savard and Moore? Should EDM leave Hall, RNH, Schultz, and the rest in OKC? Should Huberdeau stay for seasoning? Would you give Holtby another year to mature? The list is extensive.

Well, to answer your question, yes, we do have to fill out the roster.  I do think  our strategy should be to back fill the roster with veterans who will do as well as our young guys for 48 games.  For instance, you could bring back Jody Shelley, a guy in the last year, of his last contract as a glue guy for the locker room.  He is still immensely popular in Columbus, and you could make a place for him in the organization.  Is he better than our young players over the long term?  Of course not.  Might he not fit well in a shortened season?  Very possibly yes.

Secondly,no, I am not suggesting that it would be appropriate to keep Hall, RNH, and Shultz in OKC.  They don't play for the Columbus Blue Jackets organization, and their situation is completely different.  First of all, OKC is in about 4th place in its division.  Second, you are talking about a bunch of number 1 overall picks.  I'm talking about Blue Jackets players.  What I am saying applies very uniquely to Columbus, and rests a lot on the good work that our prospects have already done this year.  If Springfield was a middling team, or near the bottom of it division, I would agree completely with you.  I am talking about a unique opportunity for these young players to pursue a championship.  We should let them take that chance.

And, in keeping with your comments, I think it is important to communicate this goal to these players.  "The big club is in transition.  Your goal is to try to win the Calder Cup.  We promise to support you in that, and minimize the disruption to your team.  Don't worry, we'll be paying attention".  I also personally think that John Davidson is uniquely qualified to deliver that type of message to these young men, and to inspire them to pursue that goal.  That is a critical part of what I am saying.

Lastly, I'd like to express my deep appreciation to roadman for expressing your comments.  You forced me to explain myself more fully.  I certainly hope you do not perceive this commentary to be negative.  Lastly, you may have noticed that we have this lockout on, and content is hard to come by.  Thank you for the inspiration.


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Organizational Courage

One week from tomorrow the Columbus Blue Jackets will be hosting an open house for season ticket holders so we can meet and talk to John Davidson, the new President of Hockey Operations, and Coach Todd Richards.  Being one of them thar nuts who still has his money with the team, in spite of the shenanigans of messieurs Fehr and Bettman, I will get an opportunity to attend.

In the interest of fairness, Mr. Davidson, I am going to telegraph this punch.  Here is the question I am going to ask you:

Do we have the organizational courage to leave the young men in Springfield down there to finish the job if there is a truncated NHL season?

Right now the Springfield Falcons sit atop the AHL standings.  They have the best road record in the AHL.  Cam Atkinson, Ryan Johansen, Matt Calvert, John Moore, Tim Erixon, Curtis McElhinney have all staked varying levels of claim to an NHL roster spot, should we have any kind of season.  What they have done in Springfield is put together a darn good start to the season.  In my mind it is critical to the long term prospects of the CBJ to have these guys experience the whole process as a team.

Indeed, we are very experienced in watching good starts in Columbus.  In 2 of the last 3 NHL seasons the team has put together the best start in franchise history, only to falter in December when the intensity of play picks up.  The opportunity to put together a winner in the AHL, to have the future core of our hockey team experience success is priceless.  Do we have the courage and will to refuse to cash that in for the short term benefit of a truncated NHL season?  Not to mention that having this core exchange assumed success at the AHL level for assumed short term success at the NHL is very self defeating looking at next year's draft.  If ever there was a year to tank a truncated season, this is it (quit winnin' for MacKinnon!!), since we have 3 first round draft picks.

Any hockey season is long, and filled with ups and downs. Springfield has had a mini-slump and emerged.  They will face more challenges ahead as the AHL season progresses.  They should be allowed to experience those challenges as a team, to help establish a tradition of success in the organization.

The CBJ have never had a winner as an AHL team.  The only exception is the epic tale of Zenon Konopka's inspired leadership, and a record setting winning streak to propel the Syracuse Crunch into the playoffs.  Konopka literally chiseled each win into the locker room wall with a screw driver, and dragged that team into the playoffs by force of will.

Our current Falcons team has an opportunity to establish a tradition of success in the AHL that is all its own.  A tradition of winning in the AHL would be a huge asset to the parent club, the CBJ.  These young men should be allowed to have the opportunity to attempt this significant long term contribution to the organization.  But they have to finish the process first, and fight their way to and through the playoffs.

They deserve that chance.


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Carp Po Dium

Carpe Diem - Latin - Sieze the Day!

The NHL/NHLPA negotiations took a strange turn last night, when the breaking out of the NHL podium by hotel staff, where Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) negotiations were being held, caused a flurry of Twitter activity by reporters covering the NHL lockout.
Thus, this post is dedicated to that podium, which now has its own Twitter account (@NHLpodium), and is a symbol of the vacuous statements that both Union leadership and NHL leadership have treated us to.  Insane stuff, if you are a fan.

In an incredibly foolish moment, I bought into the rhetoric, and have spent the day in an agony over a season in balance.  The optimism!  The 'death spiral'!  Renewed optimism! Oh wait.  There are 20 tweets since I began typing this.  Back in a moment.Ugh.  Back to death spiral.  Fehr coming out with an announcement that the deal is done, and there is 'full agreement on money'.  Bettman comes in and takes it off the table.  Dang.  (Grandma, you owe me on this one for keeping it clean, because its been a long weird day and I am seriously annoyed at this fecal matter of a bovine species of the male persuasion but I promised to keep it clean so...).

Ok, perspective time.  This is a big time Good Cop, Bad Cop ploy by both sides.  Everyone should recognize that.  Bettman called it. 'Good, tough negotiating'.

Recognize this folks.  That's still what it is.  Fehr comes out and says 'We have agreement (except for few details)!  Bettman comes out and says "Fecal matter of a bovine species of the male persuasion!  The offer is off the table".  The bad cop is now in the room.

Prediction - Deal by mid-week next week.  This is process.  Twitter frenzy is all part of that!


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

I wonder what they're really doing in there?

With the players and owners meeting without Bettman or Fehr in attendance, I wonder what owners and players are really talking about.  My money is right now they are re-writing the lyrics to one of the best songs about self-doubt and recrimination - "Mother" by Pink Floyd.  Or "Bettman" as soon to be released under Anson Carter's record label in the coming future...

Bettman do you think they'll drop the bomb?
Bettman do you think they will return?
Bettman do you think they'll try to break my balls?
Ooooh aah, Bettman should I build a wall?
Bettman shouldn't run for commissioner?
Bettman should I trust the ol’ PA?
Bettman will they put me in the Hall of Fame?
Ooooh aah, is it just a waste of time?

Hush now owners, owners don't you cry
Gary’s gonna make all of your
Lock Outs come true
Gary’s gonna put all of his fears into you
Gary’s gonna keep you right here
Under his wing
He won't let you tweet but he might let you zing
Gary will keep owners cozy and warm
Ooooh Babe Ooooh Babe Ooooh Babe
Of course Gary’s gonna help build the wall

Bettman do think he's good enough - for me?
Bettman do think the contract’s dangerous - to me?
Bettman will she tear your small market apart?
Oooh aah, Bettman will she break my heart?
Hush now baby, baby don't you cry
Gary’s gonna check out all your proposals for you
Gary won't let anyone fighting get through
Gary’s gonna wait up till you get in
Gary will always find out whise
You've been
Gary's gonna keep Toronto healthy and clean
Ooooh Babe Ooooh Babe Ooooh Babe
You'll always be a baby to me
Bettman, did it need to be so high.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The body of evidence builds on brain injuries

A cross-section of the late NHLer Derek Boogaard's brain. 
The great story that the Powers That Be don't want you to hear is finally coming out: Contact sports have the very real potential to cause irreversible, tragic brain damage to participants.  

The New York Times is reporting the results of an article in the scientific journal Brain that suggests that a full 68 out of 85 brains analyzed (using donations from those recently deceased) by the Boston University Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy and the Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System, in collaboration with the Sports Legacy Institute, showed signs of degenerative brain disease.

This is something that, frankly, terrifies me as the parent of a kid who surely will someday want to play sports that Daddy likes to watch - namely hockey and football.  I've been watching this story with increasing concern since trying to put the purchase of my Jon "Nasty" Mirasty CBJ sweater into proper light (also here, herehere and note a few other related posts), and the news is only crystallizing in a direction that I don't think anyone wanted to see.