Monday, December 2, 2013

Commodore Speaks

I chose this graphic because it speaks to how much
Arniel needed a big physical stay at home defenseman
Over on a Montreal Canadiens blog, Ian Hermelin has posted a comprehensive interview with Mike Commodore.  Check it out, here.  It's an excellent, wide ranging interview.  It speaks for itself, and I sure hope it doesn't do Commodore any harm.  The NHL can be a bit of an old boys club, and if you really have to guard your words.  But he answers some questions for Blue Jackets fans, no doubt.

I used the graphic at the right because I made it up near the end of the 2010-11 season, when Scott Arniel's team simply could not defend the crease.  By this time in that season he had chased his big physical, stay at home defenseman into the press box and the minors.  The letters in the graphic indicate the location from which a variety of teams had scored, with each team being a different letter.  Needless to say, this graphic did not document a winning streak.

In the late spring of 2011 my frustration with the situation boiled over, and I ended up writing an incredibly childish and stupid blog post focusing on Mike Commodore.  And he called me on it, which in the end I appreciated.  Let's be clear.  I was really wrong, it was poorly done, and I pulled the post.  And I feel I really wronged Commodore.  That feeling is magnified now, in retrospect.

Mike demanded to talk to me, through DBJ, and it was a reasonable request.  So I manned up, in spite of a great deal of trepidation that does me no credit, and made the call.  And Commodore was incredibly gracious about the whole thing.  I did have the faint wisdom to start out the conversation saying that I was a season ticket holder, but I also told him I was wrong, and characterized my blather as a rookie mistake.  He was very accepting of my excuses, and we had a good conversation after that.

We talked about a lot of things, but there is one thing I want to make clear.  He refused to say anything negative about Arniel, or the organization, which I thought was wise in him.  I think enough time has gone by for him to be forthright in his opinion in an interview, but it would not have been good at that time.

We talked a lot about how hard he had worked getting ready for the star crossed 2009-10 season, but how he had pulled a groin in training camp, and never seemed to get past injuries that year.  We talked about 2010-11, and how he got benched even though his stats were pretty good.  Which was completely true.  That was the year that started in Sweden.  And he broke a finger in the second game.  He came back, played reasonably well, but suddenly was in the press box.  And before long, Arniel had him earmarked for the minors.

Which is a shame, because when you look at that chart up there, we really could have used Mike Commodore patrolling the slot in front of our goal.  Howson totally bears the blame for this, as he never should have given up on Hitchcock in the first place.  And he is squarely responsible for the disastrous Arniel hiring, that set the franchise back 3 years (or more).

So Mike.  Best of luck to you in the KHL.  Have fun, and be yourself.  Thanks for the kind words about my City.  I wish it hadn't ended the way it did here.  But at least the 'why' is a little clearer today.  Hope you win the Norrisolov trophy, or whatever it is over there.

And thanks once more for the playoff run in 2008-09.  That was a beauty.



  1. Lots to comment about the Commodore interview.

    First, Arniel's attitude does not surprise me, although as a coach he was not supposed to say these things out loud. I have talked to many NHLer's over the years who are in the 50's and 60's and quite a few of them have that "Get off my lawn" personality and say that these young whippersnappers don't know how to play the game or respect it. The problem with people like Scott Arniel is that he would't find a place in today's NHL with his skill set.

    Next, I disagree a little with placing blame on Howson. Remember, he needed a coach after the first two candidates said "no." He was stuck with Arniel, but I wonder if he wanted to pull the trigger on him earlier than he did. The folly of having Mike Priest as president is front and center here, as the team went through a difficult period without a hockey guy leading them. Or was it McConnell who let things go on too long.

    Rick Nash would be a great person to interview at this time, verifying some of these charges and claims. I think the Arniel debacle and the way upper management condoned it led to his demand for a ticket out of Columbus.

    I disagree completely with keeping Hitchcock. Hitch had lost the room and needed to go since he didn't want to change. He had is epiphany after he left and became a better coach again.

    Having said all this, I do think that Commodore made his thoughts known through the player channels and was not going to get a chance again. By the time a team was ready to look at him again, his skills had diminished.

    1. BK - I think you made some really valid points. I plan on using a separate post to discuss them with you. Stay tuned. Nothing negative, I promise.


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