directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: Change in philosophy

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Sunday, September 2, 2007

Change in philosophy

Through out the offseason we have heard about the changes in philosophy....from little things like scheduling (we had the most back2back games last year, now we have the 2nd least) to structure, accountability, conditioning, culture, expectations, and to the point I want to talk about in this entry - player development/management.

The Dispatch ran a story this morning on the Jackets #1 pick from 2006, Derick Brassard, that illustrates the change in philosophy in player development/ in which I'm VERY excited about:

"The hiring of Ken Hitchcock as coach in November and Scott Howson as general manager in June signaled a change in philosophy.

"We won't stand in the way if a young player is good enough," Howson said. "But we're not holding spots for them and hoping they're ready."

"The whole discussion is this: Does he help us win?" Hitchcock said. "That's the bottom line. We're not in the development business; we're in the winning business.""

The article goes on to give examples of players that have been rushed or "penciled in" like Rusty Klelsa and Gilbert Brule. It also talks about how Brassard has a skillset the Jackets can most certainly use and that's his ability to create at top speed but don't expect, just because he may have a skillset we lack, to make the Jackets roster.

Hitch and Howson are clearly on the same page in terms of player development. If they are good enough to make the team and help us win then there will be room for them. If they aren't then they bake in the system until they are ready.

Translation for Jackets fans: no longer will we see our top prospects developed with the big club pulling 4th line minutes. That means when we do see them they'll be more ready both mentally and physically to make the jump to the NHL and make an impact in the roles they were drafted for. Mark Methot is a perfect example of a player we saw last year who was allowed time to develop and when he did get his name called he made a good transition and was clearly "ready" to play against men in the top league in the world.

Rookies, no matter how long they bake, will always have a transition period as they adjust to the NHL game. The difference here being that the adjustment period should be a lot less painful for the Jackets and the player given the proper time to development.

A Brassard or a Russell may make the team out of camp...but it certainly appears they are gonna have to earn it and prove they are ready to help this team win. No more free passes or spots in the lineup based on draft position...and that excites me as a fan.


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