Sunday, September 21, 2014

Umby Money and a Week

Joey wearing the colors of
the loyal southern
No one can question RJ Umberger's devotion and effort as a Columbus Blue Jacket.  It can also not be doubted that occasional shortcomings in hand softness, foot speed and hockey sense kept RJ from having the impact he really wanted to have.  There were those who called his $4 plus million contract a 'bad contract', and indeed, the CBJ moved that contract over the summer.  This I think is good for RJ, and wish him all the best.  He no longer has to be the 'heart and soul' of the locker room in Philly, and being overtaken in that role in Columbus was kinda tough on him I think.

But seriously.  After last year, the notion that Joey is worth less than RJ is kinda dumb.  So give Joey the same money as RJ, and get it done.  Even if he's not the real deal, Joey can give you RJ numbers.  So let's get this done.

From a fan's perspective, I expect Joey to be out of camp for at least a week.  If you are going to miss some of camp, you might as well miss at least a week to let 'em know you are serious.  So once the week time frame has passed, I respectfully request the parties to get Joey back in Union Blue.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

You're Our Only Hope, Obi Wan Dubinsky

Princess Morgan Delivers a Critical Message to Obi Wan Dubinsky
Hoo Boy!  What a week.  I am constantly reminded of how poor a predictor I am, as I watched another prediction go down in flames this week.  In the heat of a playoff push last spring I remember tweeting that I was no longer worried about a Blue Jacket being in the All Star game, as Ryan Johansen would be there for sure.  Thanks Overhardt for trashing that prediction!  Hockey fans are the most forgiving folks in the world (see Bettman, Gary re: lockouts), but Joey is burning good will starting tomorrow.  To get in the All Star game as a new All Star you need to perform, and a guy who is not on the ice isn't going to perform.  I always kind of expected to Joey not have quite the great year this year, just 'cause that's how things are.  But any missed time in the regular season pretty much trashes that hope.  I don't think Joey is about to go on a 50-60 goal tear, 'cause he would have to be on that pace to get any consideration for the All Star game at this point.  What is worth more going forward?  Sitting out, or being in the All Star Game?  In my personal opinion, of course, it's the latter.  Oh well, par for the course for a Blue Jackets fan.

Then comes the news from the team that Nathan Horton is hobbled by a bad back.  Long time Blue Jacket Fans remember well how awesome Freddy Modin was (a heavy player), but he had back spasms that 3 months later were diagnosed as fractured (more like cracked) vertebrae.  I've gotta tell you that's what's on my mind, because Modin never really seemed to recover from that injury.  Horton should take the time to make sure he's good and healthy before he returns.  Don't rush it!!  In some ways, this is a normal course of events when someone is returning from something major like the shoulder injury.  Other injuries crop up with regularity in these situations.  Get well Horton.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Johansen: Looking at what we know today


At the Blue Jacket’s NHL media day today, President of Hockey Operations John Davidson announced three contracts that were offered to Kurt Overhardt, and by proxy, Ryan Johansen.  I normally don't like to spend too much time debating a player's worth and translating it into salary.  However, now that some numbers have been disclosed, it's fair to examine those numbers.  My opinions don't consider the elasticity of cap - because like quantum mechanic experiments that involve Austrian cats, I cannot tell if the cap will increase or decrease beyond this season.  Let’s look at the numbers as they stand today and play devil’s advocate:

Monday, September 15, 2014

A personal note on Bill Davidge

If I'm going to break radio silence, it's going to be for something important.  And, to me, this is.

Word came down from The Mother Ship that Columbus Blue Jackets analyst on FOX Sports Ohio (and perhaps a Blue Jackets employee...I don't's all so muddled as to who's under contract with whom...) Bill Davidge is undergoing treatment for multiple myeloma.  This apparently is a recent development.

Bill Davidge doing what comes naturally...being a
genuinely nice man. (Photo from the Columbus Blue Jackets)
I'm no medical expert, but cancer is nasty business.  I've known plenty of people afflicted with cancer.  It's no fun.  You just don't wish it on anyone, any time, any place.

And in the case of Bill Davidge, I will draw upon my limited personal experience to say that this happened to one of the more genuinely nice people in the Columbus Blue Jackets media-sphere.

You see, I had the opportunity to do the whole media row thing once as part of my work with FOX Sports Ohio last season...the opening preseason game.  I got to do it all (and thanks to FOX Sports Ohio's Rick Gethin, I didn't get lost along the way) - the media check-in, the pregame media room meal, the sitting up at the counter, the rockin' wifi allowing me to write and live-tweet the game, etc.  I skipped the post-game presser because the path of my story (fan enthusiasm) didn't lead me to the locker room but rather to the concourse, but I did everything else just as any other credentialed writer.

Of all the experiences that I took in during that one night, perhaps the most memorable was the media dining room.  To put it mildly, it is a funny place filled with distinct personalities.  I dare not put any more in print, but load me up with enough Red Bull and I'll tell you some stories.  As a newbie, I took it all in with a mixture of bemusement and amazement.  Oh yeah, and the dinner was nice.  Not Mitchell's Steak House nice, but much better than Bacon on a Stick.

And as the newbie, I pretty much kept my head down and was grateful that Rick was kind enough to sit with me and talk me through the whole media process as we ate.  But when I got up to grab some dinner, who was there getting his meal as well?

You guessed it, Bill Davidge.

Jarmo Drops the Gloves

Aaaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch just posted an interview with Jarmo Kekalainen over on Puck Rakers in which Jarmo speaks out about the contract situation with Ryan Johansen.  In the interview, Jarmo does a couple of things.  He emphatically states that once camp starts, that it's about the team, and not individuals.  He also publicly states their comparables (Duchene, Steppan; good comparables), and he call's out Joey's agent, wondering if this is about being a record setting agent, or about Johansen's long term future?

My own personal opinion is that it is about Overhardt wanting to be a record setting agent, and pushing the envelope when he has no (zero) leverage.  He holds Joey out of camp and there is pretty much zero (0) chance that Joey repeats the 30 goals, and then where is he?  Eventually he reports late, never really gets up to speed, and scores about 20 goals.  The next year he has an injury, and scores 20 again, and the long term contract is now about a 20 goal scorer.  The $3 million now could cost him $10-15 million over the long term.

I've been watching this all summer, and pretty much no one thinks that Joey is worth the money they are asking.  This should be a deal that can get done.  It is incumbent on both sides to get it done.  The one person hurt if it doesn't get done is the player.  As a long term fan, I support the organization on this one.  Like them, I really like the player.  But the organization took a huge risk on him when they drafted him fourth overall.  At this point, the organization deserves this assurance that he is worth it.  Joey was always going to be a late bloomer, but they have paid him NHL money all along the way, and burned a year of his deal early.  He could have been riding the bus in Springfield really easily the first couple of years, but they kept him with the big club.

Joey deserves a raise, a big one.  The Jackets proposal is 2-3 times his previous salary.  When was the last time someone offered you 2-3 times your salary and you turned it down?  Sometimes these things happen, and its Joey's business to get the money he can.  He must now realize that he can't get the money he's asking.  So now is the time to get what he can.

Get this done boys.