Archive for the ‘Columbus Blue Jackets’ Category

Tuesday’s Tour Around the Central

November 2, 2009

You know it’s a slow news week when you do a Google News search for the Blue Jackets and every single thing that pops up has to do with Ovechkin and his wonky shoulder. And, as an afterthought, how they came from behind to win their game Sunday.

Anywho, let’s see what’s out there in America’s Heartland – and Nashville.

Our friends (and by friends I mean fellow smartasses who also write a gameday newspaper – they’re like Game Time’s cousins or something) over at Second City Hockey have a recap of what you can tell about the Blackhawks after one month in. Kudos to them for not doing what a lot of other Hawks sites are doing – “Wooooo! We’re in FIRST!” is not an in-depth analysis. Because, um, there are like 65 or so games left. Gimmie substance, please.

Hockey’s Future has the top 10 organizational rankings out, and the Blue Jackets are 4th (Blues are 1st and the Preds are 2nd, so the Central should be tough for some time to come). Nikita Filatov is their number one prospect and apparently will be a contender for the Calder this year. Someone might want to mention that to Ken Hitchcock.

Mirtle wrote an excellent six part series on the viability of the Nashville Predators as a hockey market. Excellently researched – as a fan of the Thrashers, I appreciate someone taking the time to visit Nashville to see what’s going on there first hand. I’m fairly tired of people writing stuff that usually sounds like:

“(Insert non-traditional market team here) doesn’t have the fan base to succeed. Their attendance is awful. They need to win in the playoffs or else (insert big name star) is going to leave in free agency. Since they’re located in the south, the team will automatically finish in the bottom of their Conference. Oh, and LOL @ rednecks!”

MLive.com is hoping that the Red Wings have turned a corner. That’s odd – so do I. Into a wall.

And finally, continuing the injury bug that has been harassing the Blues for the past few seasons, Andy McDonald does his best impression of me in high heels and takes a header into the boards:

Thank God he appears to be ok so far, though he probably won’t play Thursday as a precaution. No word yet on Sunday at Atlanta.

If you liked Hockey Orphan, you might like:

April 11, 2009

There have been a bunch of Hockey Orphan entries the last couple weeks, so we thought it would be a smart idea to point fans of the recently represented teams to posts that they might find interesting and/or entertaining.

Montreal Canadiens (
Written by HabsFan29 from Four Habs Fans)

Twinsies: How the Montreal Canadiens are the NHL’s version of the Boston Celtics

The Canadiens would be the most exciting matchup for the Boston Bruins

Columbus Blue Jackets (
Written by Bethany from Bethany’s Rants)

Chris Kontos thought the Blue Jackets would be the San Jose Sharks’ best dance partner


Florida Panthers (
Written by Whale4Ever from Litter Box Cats)

Who IS Jay Bouwmeester, anyway?

The Return of the Rat Pack

10 Things that are cool about the Florida Panthers


New Jersey Devils (Written by John Fischer from In Lou We Trust)

A post with a bunch of the Brodeur links

Comparing Brodeur to the Plantes and Vezinas of yore is a losing endeavor

Brodeur is voted the goalie of the aughts

Are Brodeur-type workhorse goalies a dying breed?

Remember when the hockey world was stunned that the Devils seemed like they didn’t miss a beat without Brody?

Philadelphia Flyers (Written by FGSB from Flyers Goal Scored By)

Salary Cap Outlook: Flyers

San Jose Sharks (Written by Gray from Couch Tarts)

Dance Partners: San Jose

Both teams have had their struggles, but it’s interesting that Boston – San Jose still might have been a Stanley Cup preview

***

Of course, there is also a bunch of content on all the Hockey Orphan teams in our trade deadline coverage as well.

Hockey Orphan: Bethany of Bethany’s Hockey Rants on the Columbus Blue Jackets

April 5, 2009
Click on the logo for all the Hockey Orphan entries.

(Big thanks to Bethany from Bethany’s Hockey Rants at Kuklas Korner. Her blog is easily one of the go-to sources for Blue Jackets news and rumors, while KK is one of the best blog networks in all of the hockey blogosphere. Thanks, Beth!)

So you need a team eh? Well, there really is only one choice for you, but you have to jump on the wagon fast.

Reasons to love the CBJ.


Ken Hitchcock. The man is one of the best coaches in the league. He has given the Columbus Blue Jackets an identity along with the help of Scott Howson. They are picking up the pieces that Doug MacLean ruined, and building a winner.

Rick Nash. He’s one of the best players in the National Hockey League. After former captain Adam Foote forced his way out of Columbus, Nash took over and has grown into his role as Captain. He’s still young and growing with the team.

Steve Mason. One of very few things that Doug MacLean did right. He’s carried this team on his back most of the season, and the best news is, he’s only 20.

The youth. This team is packed with young talent. Derick Brassard, Jake Voracek, Nikita Filatov, and Steve Mason. The future is bright in Columbus, and it can only get better.

Ryan Salmons. The Blue Jackets signed a terminally ill cancer patient to a contract, it’s stories like this that make the world go around.


Tickets aren’t that much! One of the best things about the CBJ is they have a cheap tickets available. I am a big fan of their student tickets.

Mike Commodore, after seeing him in his skivvies, how could you not love the CBJ? The guy has a personality, and he lets it show.

They’re making history, cheering a team that hasn’t been around for a long time means you get to watch them make history. It’s amazing to watch.

Reasons that being a fan may be the death of you.

The goalie-go-round. The Jackets never seem to have that number one guy, you think you have him in and then he turns out to be a bit of a band-aid and you have to trade him off. (I’m not bitter about Pascal Leclaire at all) Hopefully Steve Mason has stopped that.


You really never know what you’re going to get. This team can play amazing hockey, but then, they let you down, and forget to show up to a game or two.

Our power play sucks. The Jackets have players who can score, but it seems like when they have the man advantage it’s a no win situation.

We’ve never made the playoffs. Doug MacLean ruined this organization and it’s going to take a while for Scott Howson to fix what he broke. Although the Jackets have made significant strides this season, they still have a lot of room to grow, and tons of steps to get to where the organization wants to be … seeing Rick Nash raise the Stanley Cup. 🙂

Living GM vs. Blogging GM: Central division

March 8, 2009

To wrap up our Trade Deadline coverage, we’ll take a look at the big moves (and non-moves) in each division one-by-one. Did our contributors and their respective GMs see eye-to-eye? Would those guest posts provide a better reality than what really came about? Let’s take a look at the Central division:

Real Life: Blue Jackets send Pascal Leclaire and a second round draft pick to Ottawa for Antoine Vermette
Bethany from Bethany’s Hockey Rants mainly pleaded with Columbus to rid the world of Christian Backman.

Since my picks are rarely correct, here’s the closest I came: “The Blue Jackets have a great thing going. If I were Howson, I’d look for that one extra center. If they found the right guy who can slide right into Hitchcock’s system, they should finally make the playoffs.”

And Leclaire was the main image of the BJs section. Give credit, too, to Chris Kontos who predicted that CBJ would have to give up a draft pick. A rare win for the CLS gang!

Real Life: Red Wings do nothing
The Chief aka IwoCPO from Abel to Yzerman said:

“Denver fans are literally sobbing at the thought of Ian Laperriere joining the Wings, and for that reason I’d like to see it happen. We’ll see. My prediction? Nothing. No additions. Nada.”

Correct. Good job Mr. Chief.

Real Life: Nashville Predators do nothing
The Forechecker said:

“The first caveat heading into the deadline is, “no deals that make the 2009-10 edition of the team any worse.” This Predators team is hardly in the position to make a “go for it” type of acquisition, but there are two scenarios in which they could be considered Buyers.”

He ends up being half-right. Not bad.

Real Life: Anaheim Ducks trade Sammy Pahlsson, Logan Stephenson and a conditional fourth round pick to Chicago for James Wisniewski and center Petri Kontiola.
Clare from All Hawks Hockey said:

“If I were the Blackhawks GM, I would be hesitant to make any sort of trade. Adding another center would be nice but not at the potential cost that would be required in return. The Blackhawks have some minor issues that could be addressed but I believe the Hawks can be successful with the team they have now.”

Half-right. Chris Kontos and I guessed that they’d add a center. The question is: what was the “potential cost” of the Pahlsson deal? Was that peanuts or way too much for a guy who might just go back to Anaheim this summer? I’ll leave that to the commenters.

Real Life: Blues do nothing of significance
Brad Lee from St. Louis Game Time said:

“I would stand pat. The chemistry is good. The mix with young and old players is strong. They’re winning. It’s important to keep the long view of growing from within, but the fans are desperate for a chance at the playoffs. The energy around St. Louis and the enthusiasm for this team is really strong right now. So you can’t trade Keith Tkachuk. And I don’t want to give up any picks or prospects.”

Well done, Brad. That is correct.

If you were the GM (Central division edition)

March 2, 2009

(With the trade deadline upon us, Cycle like the Sedins decided to ask about 30 or so friends in the blogosphere to represent his or her team and answer the question: “What would you do if you were the GM during the trade deadline?

Since things change in a heartbeat, the date of each person’s submission is listed next to each entry. So before you start screaming “BUT THEY TRADED HIM!” while food spills out of your mouth, we’re showing what they thought at the time.

Don’t like it? Psh.)

Columbus Blue Jackets

Usually don’t feel moved to give photo credit but this was awesome enough: dshultz.blogspot.com

Bethany from Bethany’s Hockey Rants

(3/2)

“If I were Scott Howson, I would give away Christian Backman, yes, GIVE him away. I don’t care if we get anything in return, just make him go away, I mean sure he played six good games for the Jackets this season, but he’s totally not worth it. We still need that top line center for Nash, and all we have to offer is a broken goalie, in Leclaire, and a broken defenseman in Klesla. Who wants to trade?!”

Chris Kontos: It’s amazing how far Backman has fallen since his Rookie of the Year campaign in 2002-2003. And the fact that Columbus would give him away for nothing speaks volumes to that. Oh, wait… what? Christian Backman? I was thinking of Barret Jackman. Who the hell is Christian Backman? Bethany is right on here… I expect the Blue Jackets to make the biggest splash this deadline… but who in hell do they have to give up to trade? Looks like it will be draft picks a plenty.

James O’Brien: The Blue Jackets have a great thing going. If I were Howson, I’d look for that one extra center. If they found the right guy who can slide right into Hitchcock’s system, they should finally make the playoffs.

***

Detroit Red Wings

The Chief aka IwoCPO from Abel to Yzerman
(2/28)

If I were Tick Tock Kenny Holland, I’d drink heavily at the deadline. Actually, if I was Cindy Brady or practically anyone else, I’d drink heavily at the deadline. In Kenny’s case? I think it’s going to be a slow day so he’ll have some time to kill. Now that’s the logical consensus…not because the Wings don’t need anything. They do. But more because all the smart kids say their too close to the cap. But…if Holland finds a way to add a player, I think it will be a gritty winger.
Denver fans are literally sobbing at the thought of Ian Laperriere joining the Wings, and for that reason I’d like to see it happen. We’ll see. My prediction? Nothing. No additions. Nada.

Chris Kontos: Don’t mess with success. The Red Wings will stand pat. But adding former King Laperriere would be a HUGE get for this team.

James O’Brien: Is it possible for the Red Wings to at least feel around for Manny Fernandez or some other goaltender? Sure, it doesn’t really make a bunch of sense to mess with a good thing but on the other hand you only get so many chances to win a Cup. Nicklas Lidstrom isn’t getting any younger.

***

Nashville Predators

(2/26)
The Forechecker

The first caveat heading into the deadline is, “no deals that make the 2009-10 edition of the team any worse.” This Predators team is hardly in the position to make a “go for it” type of acquisition, but there are two scenarios in which they could be considered Buyers. First, something similar to last season’s pickup of Jan Hlavac; a late-round pick in exchange for a veteran who, it is hoped, can be plugged into the existing lineup and provide help in a specific role. The role that sticks out like a sore thumb right now is a power play specialist.

The other Bonk. The cooler, balder Bonk.

Secondly, you could do a contract-swapping exchange similar to the Whitney/Kunitz deal between Pittsburgh and Anaheim, in which two teams trade underperformers in long-term contracts to juggle their assets and take a gamble on the player faring better in a new environment. I doubt we’d see that type of trade here, but Martin Erat and/or Dan Hamhuis might make attractive candidates there.
If, in the judgment of the team, they should sell assets instead, pending UFA’s like Greg de Vries and Radek Bonk (assuming a trading partner is comfortable with his injury status) might be attractive to contenders looking for that veteran presence on defense or a faceoff specialist. No matter the case, slow & steady is the course for Nashville, and 2009-10 looks enticing with the possible addition of Colin Wilson to the lineup.

Chris Kontos: Did you know that Radek Bonk was a 3rd overall draft pick? Eventually he and Rico Fata will make awesome linemates in Europe.

James O’Brien: Nashville might be the team that truly blows my mind. These guys keep hovering around the playoffs year after year, amid turmoil and losing personnel. Would this be the team for Marian Gaborik? Wouldn’t wish that on such an intelligent franchise.

***

Chicago Blackhawks
March 2

Clare from All Hawks Hockey

If I were the Blackhawks GM, I would be hesitant to make any sort of trade. Adding another center would be nice but not at the potential cost that would be required in return. The Blackhawks have some minor issues that could be addressed but I believe the Hawks can be successful with the team they have now.

Chris Kontos: I think the Blackhawks need to make a move. They have a great young team but are ready to compete now. They need another center, especially with Sharp out, and with the right move, they could be quite the dark horse team in the playoffs.

James O’Brien: Have to agree with Chris on this one. The Blackhawks are often referred to as “a team of the future” but there is a bit of pressure on the present tense Blackhawks. If they don’t plan on keeping Martin Havlat, why not trade him for a center? No? I’m an a-what? Easy!

***

St. Louis Blues

Brad Lee from St. Louis Game Time (March 2)

I would stand pat. The chemistry is good. The mix with young and old players is strong. They’re winning. It’s important to keep the long view of growing from within, but the fans are desperate for a chance at the playoffs. The energy around St. Louis and the enthusiasm for this team is really strong right now. So you can’t trade Keith Tkachuk. And I don’t want to give up any picks or prospects.

Chris Kontos: I can’t even put into words how strange it is to see an Andy Murray coached team actually on the rise in the last 2 months of a season. This is usually Murray’s time to tank. The Blues have a solid team that is on the up and up for future seasons. I think it’s more important to get the experience in battling for a playoff spot than sell off Tkachuk. But… if Boston or Washington comes knocking for Tkachuk with a huge payday… how can you say no?


Laura from Wazzupwitchu?

If I were John Davidson, well, I’d be an old man who is extremely well off and in charge of one of the best up and coming teams in the league. Aside for the fact that I would be a paunchy late-middle ager, I have to say I would be fairly content. With his salary, heck, I could even tolerate being the late-middle ager.

Unfortunately, I am not the GM of the Blues – I’m a late 20s chick who happens to draw a salary as a teacher that is the equivalent to probably one of Brad Winchester’s game paychecks.

I agree with the GM’s assessment that the best thing we can do for the team is build from within with intelligent draft picks and prospects who have been cultivated through the farm system. The Blues have done an outstanding job of this – we currently have one of the top ranked farm systems in the league. By all accounts, we have had the most roster-damaging injuries all season out of any team, and we should have been far out of the playoff race a long time ago. Amazingly enough, here we are short some veteran leadership (Brewer, Kariya) and young guns (King, Johnson) who should be making up the core of our team… and we’re 3 points out. Players have stepped up from the Rivermen into our roster without missing a beat and we traded for two individuals (Steen and Colaiacovo) who are making a huge impact. One would say that with the roster we have now, our chemistry is set.

The most important thing when looking at this, and then looking at where we are in the standings, is the potential to throw off the team chemistry. Absolutely, positively, do I not trade Keith Tkachuk. Recent articles in the Post-Dispatch show more and more his willingness to lead these young guys into the playoffs. They also show a commitment to Walt from the other players, young and old alike, who view him as a mentor and the team leader. Davidson mentioned that the 3 games before the trade deadline were deal-makers or breakers. In those 3 games we’re 2-0-0 with the third to be played tonight. Regardless of a win against Detroit, I think that we are close enough to the playoffs (with teams beneath us who seem to be on the decline) that we stand pat with Tkachuk.

Another thing that I certainly would not do is something that rumor sites have the Blues thinking about – trading for Chris Pronger. Nothing against the guy, but this idea is wrong from several different angles. Why would the Ducks, a team who is slipping and who needs to tighten some things up, trade to another Western Conference team who is on the rise? Why in the world would they make the Blues any better than we are? If the Ducks dump Pronger it’ll be to an Eastern Conference squad.

Also mentioned in the “Pronger to the Blues” rumors is the inclusion of David Perron. He’s #3 on the team with points, and is a sharp playmaker, especially on the Kid Line. The only reason Perron’s name has been tossed about is because someone unfamiliar with the team noticed that Andy Murray called him out in the press a few times and moved him to the 4th line for a couple of games. He did that because Perron responds to this kind of treatment by ratcheting up his play a few notches, NOT because he dislikes him or wants him gone.

The other UFAs (Hinote, Winchester, Weaver, Legace) are all good for some picks and maybe a prospect thrown in with Manny. I’d try to move them – Legace isn’t showing his worth in Peoria right now, but there are teams with goalie issues moving into the playoffs who might take a risk (Buffalo). I would try to resign Brad Winchester, though. He’s fit in very well with the team this year, and is producing (10 goals and 4 assists in 44 games). He’s an extremely solid 3rd liner, and his salary isn’t huge ($600K with a cap hit of $465,000) – he’s an affordable and valuable re-sign.

One other thing I would do if I were the Blues GM – keep doing things right. I live in Atlanta and am a Thrashers fan as well (which explains the schizoid nature of my blog), and Don Waddell is probably one of the worst GMs I have ever seen. I would kill for a guy like Davidson to be down here. That being said, I am more than happy to keep JD in St. Louis where he can help with the successful re-build.

James O’Brien: There are certain inevitable things in the end of February/early March. People start to tense up about taxes. The weather’s still cold, dammit, and people are getting tired of it. And the NHL trade deadline comes and Keith Tkachuk‘s name comes up.

He’s been quite the draft pick machine for the Blues. Why stop now? Trade him for a bunch of picks and then wait for him to come back next year. Again.

Dance Partners: San Jose

February 24, 2009

ChrisKontos here with your Western Conference edition of Dance Partners. The first blockbuster (?) trade has gone down in the NHL (who knew that Dean McAmmond was still even playing!) and that means the playoffs are rapidly approaching.


As goes Dean McAmmond… so goes Ottawa’s playoff hopes.

The race for 8th place has created an incredible logjam in the Western Conference as even the last place Colorado Avalanche (wow, that feels weird to write) are only a few points away from that 8th seed. There are more pretenders than contenders out of the 10 teams that are battling for that spot, so let’s breakdown the 3 teams that would make the most entertaining matchups for the Western Conference leading San Jose Sharks and for the NHL. But please remember… San Jose is no Boston… so the NHL is going to have a hard time marketing this series no matter who is playing.

1. Columbus Blue Jackets – (currently in 6th place, but only 2 points away from being 8th)


What the ef is a Blue Jacket?!?

Never bet against Ken Hitchcock. The man has not been anywhere close to the playoffs in 3 seasons but the Blue Jackets have finally figured out how to work in his defensive system. It helps that super mono-fighting rookie Steve Mason has given the BJ’s the goaltender they needed. I expect the BJ’s to make the biggest move at the deadline and get some help at forward. They’ve beaten the Sharks twice this season, both in overtime. Watching the high octane speed and offense of the Sharks clash with the defense first mentality of a Hitchcock team could make this a very good series.

NHL Marketability: Um… It’s Columbus and San Jose. Not so much.

2. Dallas Stars – (currently in 7th place and cursing the loss of Brad Richards)


James Woods… the Star of Shark.

This is the scenario that the NHL would love the most. Dallas, the team that struggled out of the gate because of its bonehead move to give Sean Avery a bunch of money, would bounce back and sneak into the playoffs to face its division rival, the Sharks. Just think of how much all the TV analysts get to fawn over what cutting their loses with Sean Avery has done for this Stars team. Plus now that Marty Turco has ironed out his kinks, a Nabokov-Turco first round matchup would be fantastic. You know, kind of like the amazing 1-0 Sharks victory from last night. Oh and there was the whole Dallas beating San Jose in the 2nd round last year thing too. I know Ron Wilson remembers that series.


Is there such a thing as an old school Sharks-Stars fight?

NHL Marketability: Have you heard anyone talk about what happened to this Sean Avery character and the Dallas Stars? Wild, huh? I can only imagine they’d bring it up in the playoffs.

3. Anaheim Ducks (currently in 10th, but with the most games played)


Maybe the National Geographic channel will air this series?
(insert Versus joke here)

Wow, this could be a killer series. If the Ducks are able to get their act together in the final months of the season… and JS Giguere remembers how to play goal… this would be a fantastic series for hockey fans. But that’s a big IF. The Ducks have plodded along all season and have the least games in hand out of any of the teams battling for 8th. But if they are able to sneak into the playoffs with Niedermayer, Pronger, Getzlaf, Perry and Selanne all still on their roster… watch out. This would be the matchup the Sharks would least want.

NHL Marketability: This could quickly become a classic first round series. Plus I think Battle of California’s head would explode blogging about this playoff matchup.

WILDCARD!

How could you expect me to break down the 8th seed matchup for the Western Conference and not give the Los Angeles Kings a fighting chance? I mean, I’ve even created a marketing slogan for the Kings push for the 8th seed. Unfortunately, if the Kings continue to shit the playoff race bed like they did this weekend against the Phoenix Coyotes, this matchup is not probable at all. BUT if the Kings did sneak in… well, they would rather play the Detroit Red Wings as at least they’ve been close in games with that team this year. Damn you Denis Gauthier!


Play-offs? Hmm, never heard of them.

NHL Marketability: Well, having a Los Angeles based team (sorry Anaheim) in the playoffs would make any TV executive happy. And can you imagine the coverage of this series by the various NHL California blogs? Blogging gold. Commenters… it’s up to you. What do you think?