directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: Pre-game thoughts: Hitch left to pick up the pieces

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Pre-game thoughts: Hitch left to pick up the pieces

After an emotional day yesterday the team must now find a way to move on.

Gone is their captain of whom gave up on this team and bailed.

Gone is their 6 million dollar desperation move by former GM Doug MacLean to fill a long standing hole in this lineup at center ice in Sergei Fedorov.

Gone perhaps is their shot at the postseason...although I would say their 4-6-3 performance post All Star break all but sealed that fate.

Probably the most important though is gone are two more pieces from the Doug MacLean era as Howson works cautiously and calculated to rebuild a team that has been "building" since existence.

So what now?

Hitch is left yet again to pick up the pieces and try to do whatever he can with a group of players that no doubt feels abandoned by upper management. From what I gather morale is very low right now and its hard for the players to see the big picture impact of what transpired yesterday.
They are focused on the now which is understandable.

Its time to move on though. Its time to regain focus. Its time to man up and be professionals. This team has never been high in talent and has gotten by this year on great defense and goaltending and timely scoring.
This team is still in the best shape its ever been in this far into the season. Steps have been taken.

Is the loss of Sergei Fedorov and Adam Foote reasons to throw in the towel and get away from the game that has made them successful this season? That's for the players to answer tonight.

Keys to lighting em up

Here is the one key I want to say about the game tonight.

They can use what happened yesterday in two ways:

The easy way -- pack their bags, fold their tents, take their money and run and use it as an excuse to ride out the rest of year dreaming about tee times and sandy beaches


The hard way -- dig in, refocus and use what transpired as a motivator. Their captain bailed on them? If that is me in that room I'm pissed and I'm not ready to give up on the year. Screw him is what I would say. The guys in that room got them to this point and they need to believe in themselves. Ain't no quick fix Hossa/Campbell/Richards going to ride in a white horse and suddenly turn this team in a world beater. Its has to come from the team within that room no matter who they could have obtained or what they lost yesterday.

Just about every NHL team went through the same highs and lows including teams solidly in the playoffs.

Montreal, a team near the top of the Eastern conference, lost their starting goaltender in Huet for a pick and did not add one other piece -- how did they respond? They thumped Atlanta 5-1 is what they did.

Ottawa, a team also at the top of the Eastern conference that only made a minor acquistition well that did the exact opposite -- they got thumped 4-0 but Boston who also did not make a move.

So what's it gonna be? We gonna be Montreal or Ottawa tonight?

The vets can cry or they can take ownership. The young guys can stand idly by or than can use this as an opportunity.

The old adage - one man's loss is another's gain.

I can guarantee you that is what callups Aaron Rome and Derek MacKenzie are thinking right now.

We'll certainly find out what this team is made of tonight.

Game spotlight

Tonight marks Jody Shelley's first return to Nationwide Arena in an opposing team's sweater. Will he and Boll tangle?

Also keep an eye on Jason Campbell who is a deadline acquisition for the San Jose Sharks. Campbell was very non committal about his intentions after the season as he "just wants to focus on hockey". Translation - he has every intention of testing the UFA market this offseason -- he is the exact kind of puck mover this team needs and I could see Howson throwing oodles of dough and term at this guy.


Will be interesting to see what kind of crown turns up tonight. I'm going in hoping for the best but expecting the worst. The team has typically played well against teams higher in the standings but recently they have been brutal at home (0-2-2 in last 4) and who knows how they respond to yesterday's sell off.

Like always I'll be there to watch the madness with pre/post game at the Rbar.



1 comment:

Anonymous said...

'Jason' Campbell ;)

You mean Brian, right :)

A win vs. the Sharks tonight would have been a bit of a surprise. There, it is finished. The game after the deadline, Shelley's return. Over, done--finished. Move on.