Archive for the ‘Ken Hithcock’ Category

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. 🙂

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.


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?

Coach of the Decade: whom to consider

February 3, 2009
Mike Babcock
Record: 231 W – 118 L – 19 T – 42 OTL
Best years: Three division titles; 2002-03 (his lemons to lemonade year: coached an 8th 7th seed who beat Detroit and came within a game of a Cup) and 2007-08 (dominant Stanley Cup year – no team ever put the Red Wings at risk of elimination in the entire playoffs)
Fired?: No, but he left the Ducks for the Red Wings

Babcock is a quality over quantity guy. He’s made the playoffs four out of five years as a head coach. He won one Cup and came within a game of another. His teams usually perform very well in the playoffs. Rarely will you ever find a loss pinned on Babcock.

Lindy Ruff
Record: 340 W – 252 L – 44 T – 47 OTL
Best years: One division title, 05-06 and 06-07 – both seasons ended with Conference finals losses.

Fired?: No

Lindy Ruff is the closest thing the NHL has to a Terminator or cockroach when it comes to being unkillable. As the longest tenured coach in the NHL, Ruff has been with the team since the 1997-98 season. In the last decade, he kept the Sabres from imploding while the club was in financial trouble and helped lead what might be a short-lived return to glory for the franchise.

What hurts him the most is that the team has missed the playoffs four times this decade.

Barry Trotz
Record: 296 W – 261 L – 53 T – 46 OTL
Best years: 05-06 (106 pts, lost in first round) and 06-07 (110 points, lost in first round)
Fired?: No

Barry Trotz is the only coach in the history of the Nashville Predators. Behind the bench since 1998-99, Trotz often made something out of nothing. In fact, with only a few big name guys over the last few years like Paul Kariya and Jason Arnott, the Predators have been remarkably competitive.

They’ve also made it to the playoffs for the last four seasons.

Unfortunately, they’ve also been kicked out before ever seeing the second round. As great a coach as Trotz is, it might be hard to overcome that hurdle.

Ken Hitchcock
Record: 307 W – 202 L – 52 T – 51 OTL
Best years: Three division titles, 99-00 (lost in SCF) and 03-04 (lost in Game 7 of Conference finals)
Fired?: twice

Hitchcock is a bit of a victim of timing in this case. He won his only Stanley Cup with the Dallas Stars in 1998-99, the season before “the decade” began. Indeed, the three years before 99-00 were the best years of his coaching career.

That being said, Hithcock still has had an impressive decade. He took two different teams to the Conference Finals and brought the Stars to the Cup finals against the New Jersey Devils.

Perhaps the biggest knocks are that he’s been fired twice and missed the playoffs twice in a row as the coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Still, the Stars hit their highest level under his tutelage. And the Flyers were one game away from the SCF because of Hitchcock. Finally, the Blue Jackets are in the mix for this year’s playoffs which would be the first in the club’s history.

Jacques Lemaire
Record: 277 W – 242 L – 55 T – 47 OTL
Best years: One division title, 02-03 (lost in Conf. finals)
Fired?: No

Even if his name will forever be associated with the neutral zone trap, Lemaire is still one of the most respected coaches in the NHL. While his teams have missed the playoffs four times, he’s been able to coax some very successful seasons out of some minimally talented teams.

Ron Wilson
Record: 344 W – 228 L – 52 T – 46 OTL
Best years: four division titles, 03-04 (lost in Conf. finals) and 07-08 (108 pts)
Fired?: Twice

One of the best personalities in the NHL is also one of the best coaches. He lead both the Washington Capitals and San Jose Sharks from basement teams to perennial contenders. Along with being consistently quotable, Wilson’s claim to fame is being ahead of the pack when it comes to technology.

Wilson shares the unfortunate distinction with Hitchcock of being fired twice in this decade. However, it’s always a sign that you’re probably a worthwhile coach when you barely blink and a new offer is on the table. Both Wilson and Hitchcock barely wasted a month before being chosen as the coach of a different team.

Other possible contenders: Dave Tippett, Claude Julien, Randy Carlyle (too brief), Scotty Bowman (only three years, but did win a Cup) and Joel Quenneville. Maybe even Pat Burns or Pat Quinn?