directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: Blue biscuits

Countdown to Rick Nash's contract expiration:

Monday, May 26, 2008

Blue biscuits

Just catching back up on the happening in the hockey world after the past 4 days. Unfortunately, not a whole lot going on. There were a couple of nuggets that the Dispatch beats commented on over in their puck-rakers blog that I thought I also would comment on:

The negotiations with Pascal Leclaire have yet to start. My first thought is why is that? What exactly is Howson waiting on?

Personally I think this negotiation is going to get real hairy. Leclaire had a very good year last season. He had a great first half and an average second half and just when we thought he may have finally kicked the injury bug he suffered a couple of them down the stretch including a concussion off a Freddy Modin slap shot in warms up that caused him to miss 9 games.

Bottom line though is that Howson has to lock him up. Goaltending is just to important. Super prospect Steve Mason needs to get some seasoning in the minors and Freddy Norrena coming off a lack luster year has one more year left on his deal.

I don't expect a deal anytime soon though. Leclaire is a restricted free agent which would mean the Jackets would have the right to match any offer sheet. I would imagine Leclaire's camp wanting a 4 to 5 year deal at 4 to 5 mil per year which would actually stretch out into some of his unrestricted years.

Howson on the other hand may be a little more hard to read. Perhaps he thinks Mason may be ready in a year or two and won't want to commit to a long term high dollar contact? Perhaps he may commit thinking if Mason does emerge then he'll have a nice trading chip on his hands? Maybe he'll welcome an offer sheet?

Regardless the problem I see emerging is that I see a big negotiation gap between the two camps that I think is going to take a while to resolve -- perhaps even taking them past the July 1st date when RFAs can receive offer sheets.

Definitely keep an eye on this one.

Ben Wright, among others from the 2006 draft class, will not be signed by the Jackets. I, like Portzline, am surprised by this one. Wright is a 6' 2" defensemen who was drafted in the 4th round and has spent 4 seasons with the WHL's Lethbridge Hurricanes. He scored 38 points last year and 47 the year prior.

For a team with a lack of offensive d-men in their system this move was a bit surprising. Then again perhaps this is still part of the house cleaning for the Jackets and taking an unbiased look at the potential of the unsigned picks within the organization. Remember though that the 2006 draft was the last year of drafts under Doug MacLean. Scott Howson took over in 2007. What will be interesting is to see how many picks go unsigned from years when Howson's staff is making the picks and if he still keeps that unbiased eye.

Finally, Machinehead. Should it stay or should it go? Honestly if it were me voting it would be history. Its just stale. In fact the whole damn in-arena experience has gone stale. The Jackets claim that its a calling card to fans that the period is about ready to begin. I can see that argument but my personal opinion is that the time has come to change things up a bit.

Of course then the next question would be change to what? Me personally I love the opening to Paradise City by GN'R - I think that would be sweet.

The entrance song isn't the only thing that could use a make over. The cannon was a nice add but that even has room for improvement. Time to move on from AC/DC "For Those About to Rock".

My suggestion. Keep with Joe Satriani "Crowd Chant" but after have the crowd count off the number of goals scored and then end with "FIRE!!" -- then the arena staff shoots off the canon.

More changes that I think could absolutely refresh the in-arena experience:

- Totally kill the stupid movie video clips. Especially when the crowd is already cheering. Talk about a complete buzzkill.

- MORE REPLAYS!! Seriously do they think the crowd is going to storm the ice if they show a replay of a bad call by a ref? Hell no! If anything is gets the crowd into the game and you know -- actually takes advantage of being at home.

- Allow flags. I look around various venues in the NHL and see all these fans waiving flags and really supporting their team. I'd like to see Nationwide allow the same as it really adds to the atmosphere of the arena.

- Music. For the love off all things 6 oz. of black rubber -- know your demographic. The game ops team could do a much better job of choosing music to pump up the crowd.

- Keep the civil war theme going. They did some cool stuff last season with the drum line and fife. Heck I even liked the bugel guy even though he needs more practives. Keep playing it up.

- Get the dancing fat guy a belt. I've seen enough of his plumber's butt to last me a lifetime.
- Organ. Anything greater than the current Casio will be an improvement.

Now of course nothing will improve the in-arena experience like actually icing a winning team but I think there are certainly some easy tweaks that could made with relatively low planning and budget that could really enhance the game experience for all involved.



Anonymous said...

All i have to say very well said on everthing we need inprovments everywhere.

Tom said...

On the crowd experience: I think Detroit has its demographic down cold. Columbus could learn from the Red Wings in more than one way...