directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: League reaction to Jackets moves

Countdown to Rick Nash's contract expiration:

Friday, July 4, 2008

League reaction to Jackets moves

The Globe & Mail don't seem to like our FA signings:

7. Senators in holding pattern
There is clearly work to be done in the nation's capital, rebuilding a defence corps that lost Wade Redden and Mike Commodore to astonishingly generous contracts (the Rangers and Blue Jackets must see something no one else does).


12. What were they thinking?
Wade Redden (Rangers), Mike Commodore, Kristian Huselius (Columbus), Jeff Finger (Toronto).

Columbus wasn't a winner or loser according to THN.

ESPN's Burnside just completely ignored the Jackets moves on Day 1 and Day 2.

Damion Cox of the Toronto Star like the Jackets moves:

The Columbus Blue Jackets have never made the Stanley Cup playoffs in seven years of trying, the only NHL club never to have played a post-season match.

It's about time they tried to fix that problem.

And so, it's fair to say the moves made by Columbus GM Scott Howson so far, both trades and free-agent signings, have made the Jackets one of the big winners so far in the NHL off-season. chimes in on Jacket moves:

Brand-new Jackets: The changes were massive, as promised, in Columbus over the last two weeks.

In are forwards Kristian Huselius, R.J. Umberger and Raffi Torres as well as defencemen Mike Commodore, Fedor Tyutin and Christian Backman.

Out are forwards Gilbert Brule, Nikolai Zherdev and Dan Fritsche as well as blue-liner Ron Hainsey.

I think this is a better team, just not sure if it's playoff-bound for the first time.

You have to hand it to GM Scott Howson. Players aren't tripping over themselves to sign in Columbus. So he had to overpay in some cases ($18.75 million over five years for Commodore), but that's life when you are a team that's never made the playoffs.

Given those circumstances, I think Howson did commendable job. He also didn't duck the question this week when I asked him about having to overpay for UFAs. Some GMs would have told me to eat it.

"Free agency is all about paying a premium," Howson began. "In our market, we haven't got a winning tradition here. We haven't got a playoff tradition. It's important to players that they have an opportunity to win and win fairly immediately. And we have to prove that to the rest of the NHL community that we're a team that's going to make the playoffs and challenge for the Cup. And we haven't done that yet.

"Until we do that, that's an obstacle for us in attracting players. We believe we're pointing in the right direction but we haven't come close to the playoffs yet. Eighty points is what we got last year, our best year ever, and that's not even close. We have work to do in establishing a reputation for Columbus as a good hockey team. And that's what we're working towards doing."

Amen, Scott.

The Canadian Press even gets in on the action:

So, are they any better?

"We certainly believe we're better but it will be up to us to prove that when the season starts," Howson said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

Howson isn't totally done. He'd like to add a No. 3 centre.

"We've talked to Michael Peca (UFA) about coming back," said Howson. "We'll see if that works out."

Otherwise, this is basically your 2008-09 Blue Jackets. Definitely new, and they hope improved. A loyal fan base is getting restless and so is ownership. Not a single playoff game played since their first season in 2000-01.

This is a big year for Howson and head coach Ken Hitchcock.

"There's pressure to get into the playoffs," concedes Howson. "Our ultimate goal is to build a championship-calibre team. We believe we're making strides in doing that. Our first step in that will be making the playoffs."

That urgency explains the risk in dealing away players like Brule and Zherdev - both of whom may end up being stars in the NHL. But there's an obvious stress on wanting to get it done now in Columbus.

"This fan base has gone through eight years of not making the playoffs and we think we owe them a playoff-calibre team and that's what we're trying to do," said Howson. makes its comments:

Columbus Blue Jackets: Turning Gilbert Brule into Raffi Torres is like taking a Ferrari with an unfixable engine and trading it for a Hyundai Sonata. The money for Mike Commodore ($18.75 million) is better than the years (five). But Columbus is a better team than it was on June 30. GRADE: B

USAToday's Ken Allen gives the Jackets a "team is at the same level as last season" arrow (click link to see what I mean) -- his comments obviously before the Huselius signing:

The Blue Jackets have renovated their defense with Mike Commodore, Fedor Tyutin and Christian Backman, and added R.J. Umberger to their forward mix. It's not a significant upgrade yet, but the Blue Jackets are still at work.

A little late but THN did give Columbus' draft a 'B':

B, Columbus Blue Jackets – The Jackets have never got all they could out of Nikolai Zherdev, but that didn’t scare them away from selecting Nikita Filatov from Russia and it was a wise choice. The dynamic youngster has a chance to be a superstar and at NCAS we feel had he played in the CHL this year, he may have battled Steven Stamkos a lot closer. The Jackets’ need was defense, but when Toronto jumped ahead of them to take Luke Schenn, GM Scott Howson did the right thing and selected Filatov because he was clearly the best player available. They then went and addressed the lack of defensive prospects by getting Cody Goloubef and Steven Delisle, the giant defender from Gatineau. Much like Nashville, Columbus’ first three picks were so good they could take some flyers later on. With the exception of Tomas Kubalik, the rest have significant deficiencies in their game that need a lot of work if they are to become good prospects, but the big three will all have a chance to contribute down the road in the Buckeye state.



wizworm said...

Thanks for all the links LTL!

It seems CBJ's lack of playoff success is still leaving the media uncertain about our team. Many of them seem to be on the fence and I can't blame them really. Like Howson pointed out, until we have playoff success and prove that we've turned the corner it's going to be hard to attract top end FA's or gain respect.

I like Howson's moves though. Every player he's brouht in fits the mold of what they're trying to build here or addresses a need. I think next year is going to be better than the last but the playoffs are still going to be a dog fight (it's a tough Western Confrence). That said. I love what Howson and Hitch are building here. Big, tough and competitive.

If the kids are ready to produce at the NHL level and can add enough skill I think we have a shot at the 6th-8th spot this year and that's a start.

mike said...

That's funny w/ burnside, darn near any1 who gets on ESPN to read his articles pretty much come to a consensus that he sucks at his job. So he can ignore Columbus all he wants as far as I care. Like wizworm said, Howson tells it like it is, he doesn't go out of his way to try and give a sense of false hope, he knows there is plenty of work that needs to be accomplished.