directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: 08/01/2008 - 09/01/2008

Countdown to Rick Nash's contract expiration:

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Calm before the storm

Not much going on in the hockey world during this extended labor day weekend. Expect things to really start gearing up in the next week as players start funneling into town, coaches continue their preseason preparations and executives and staff members start crossing all the t's and dotting all the i's as season approaches.

There has been a little news floating around out there. By now most have heard of about the Jackets singing 2007 94th overall pick Russian right winger Maxim Mayorov to a 3 year entry level contract.

If you recall Howson sent three 4th round picks to move up and grab Mayorov in the 4th round. Most thought was a top 20 talent in that draft year but he slipped as NHL teams were scared off by the transfer agreement issue and questions about his willingness to come to NA.

..but now it certainly appears he will be staying in NA and Howson could come out of this one smelling like roses should the big Russian develop.

The question now is where does he play? Assistant GM Chris MacFarland had this to day:

Assistant general manager Chris MacFarland tells the Columbus Dispatch that they have not decided where the 18 year old will play this season, either with Brandon of the WHL or Syracuse of the AHL.

"That's a tough thing to ask of an 18-year-old," MacFarland explains of placing him in Syracuse. "We'll get a chance to see him in training camp and make the call."

The upside of a year in the WHL is that it will give Mayorov a chance to dominate against players his own age while adjusting to the North American game/lifestyle. His contract also won't kick for another year. The downside is that he would be unavailable to the Jackets until his junior season concluded.

The upside to Syracuse is that Mayorov could develop and adjust to NA game/lifestyle with other Russians Nikita Filatov and Andre Plekhanov and be available to the Jackets for recall. The downside is that the Jackets would burn a year of that contract on development as an 18 year old Mayorov would be playing against men in a much tougher league.

Getting my first look at Mayorov he certainly has the tools to be an NHL player. He has great size and skates very well for a big man. Like most young players he need to work on his play away from the puck but there is certainly a lot of talent and potential there.

I think the Jackets have an idea of where they'll put him next year but I do believe them when they say they really want to see where this kid's skill stacks up in camp and then make a decision.

Tampa continues its yahoo fantasy league offseason with their acquisition of Andrej Meszaros and now they've signed him to a whopping 6 year 24 million dollar deal. This move brings their cap hit to 54 million according to They currently have 8.75 million tied up in 6 defensemen and 30.417 million in 11 forward. Lecavalier alone will make about 1 million less than their entire defense next season.

For those that are into this sort of thing, has a really good read about the potential of another lockout on the horizon. One word I have for both sides if they let it comes to that -- "idiots".


Friday, August 29, 2008

"No" on Meszaros

Craig Custance of has a confirmed "no" from the Jackets on signing Andrej Meszaros to an offer sheet.

Like James Mirtle, I started with a few teams that I thought had the cap room and might be interested in adding a young defensemen. And then struck out. I've got a confirmed "no" on a signed offer sheet from the GM's of three teams I thought might be possibilities: Atlanta, Phoenix and Columbus.

No suprise there.

He's also questioning if there is even an offer sheet made:

Here's the other thing to consider - when the St. Louis and Vancouver offer sheets were made, that became public knowledge with releases from the PR staffs. Bryan Murray is denying that there is an offer sheet. That's interesting to me. I'm not saying there isn't one, because I was told that an offer sheet was a serious possibility in this case but why would Murray deny it if it's done?

As I stated in the comments of another post why would this be top secret? Doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

EJ Hradek takes a look at the "Best Ever" from the Central division. Here's the Jackets:

Best forward: Rick Nash. He's the only legit All-Star in the club's short history. Someday, he'll have a playmaking center to get him the puck.

Best defenseman: Rostislav Klesla. He gets it by default. In his defense, he was prematurely rushed to the NHL.

Best goaltender: Pascal Leclaire. Sorry, I just couldn't bring myself to pick either Marc Denis or Ron Tugnutt. I'll take Leclaire based on what I saw last year. He does need a better haircut, though

Nothing shocking there. I pretty much agree with all of those picks although in Columbus' case there isn't a whole lot to choose from....yet.

There were some reports that both McCain and Palin were presented with Jackets jerseys at today's events at the Nutter Center which is located my at alma mater (yes I'm a Wright State Alum) -- hey its not that often that we Raiders find something to brag about!

Anyhow those were actually Dayton Bomber jerseys that were presented and here were some comments from Bombers owner Costa Papista:

“The idea of possibly having a hockey mom in the White House just blows my mind.”

More comments from the story:

"Because it was such a secret, we didn't have time to customize one," said Papista, who played in the OHL and has owned the team for five years. "But she was really excited to get the jersey. I'm passionate about the sport and I imagine (NHL Commissioner) Gary Bettman has got to be pleased today."

Republican, Demorcat, Republicrat, whatever --- having a little hockey flavor in this year's race is pretty cool!!

Update: According to TSN (and a poster here) the Ottawa Senators have dealt Andrej Meszaros to the Tampa Bay Lightning for Alex Picard, Filip Kuba and San Jose's 1st round pick. Whew that seems like a quite a haul for Ottawa but you know what they say in that the team that gets the best player usually wins these deals and Meszaros is the best player here.

I'm still not sure what Tampa's defense is going to consist of. They have Paul Ranger, Shane O'Brien, Andrej Meszaros and Carle. Some good offensive guys but how good is that group defensively?

Bottom line Tampa is going to have win a lot of game 6-5, 5-4, etc....


Don't get hopes up for Meszaros

According The Hockey News's Adam Porteau Ottawa defensemen and restricted free agent Andrej Meszaros has agreed to an offer sheet worth 5 million a year from another NHL club. The team has yet to be confirmed.

Meszaros, a 22 year old 6'2" 220lb defensemen out of the Czech Reuplic, notched 9g 27a for 36p and finished a +5 for the Sens last season. Here is's take:

Plays a very heady game and is mature beyond his years. Owns sound hockey sense and the ability to lead the rush in transition.

Is not big, nor a very physical blueliner, so he must rely heavily on sound positioning and hockey smarts to get by at the pro level.

Career potential
Power play quarterback.

Sounds like something the Jackets could use right?

Don't count it and here's why:

The Jackets already have a payroll in the 48 to 50 million dollar range and even though they have the cap space I can't see ownership green lighting another 5 mil at this stage. That's not to say ownership would be unwilling to spend more come the deadline to put the Jackets over the top.

I think the Jackets want to sit tight and see what they've got with their current defense. Meszaros, while bigger in stature, plays a very similar game to Kris Russell and I think the Jackets want to give Russell the chance to continue his development and he comes with a much cheaper price tag.

I absolutely cannot see Howson willing to not only pay Meszaros 5 mil a year but give up the picks in the process. Here is the offer sheet compensation chart:

Compensation Due

$863,156 or less

$863,156 - $1,307,812
3rd round pick

$1,307,812 - $2,615,625
2nd round pick

$2,615,623 - $3,923,437
1st and 3rd round pick

$3,923,437 - $5,231,249
1st, 2nd, and 3rd round pick

$5,231,249 - $6,539,062
Two 1st's, one 2nd, one 3rd round pick

$6,539,062 or more
Four 1st round picks

So at 5 mil Howson would have to be willing to give up a 1st, 2nd and 3rd round pick. Ain't happening.

Really the only way I could see this going down is if Howson has a deal in place to move salary out to make room for Meszaros. For instance maybe a guy like Backman and his 3.5 million along with maybe a guy like Novonty and his .800k would clear enough room. Problem is who is going to take our left overs -- nobody. Even then Howson would have to be willing to part with the picks which I don't think he's at all prepared to do at this point.

So if not the Jacket then who made this offer sheet? My money is on Montreal. They are going for it in their bicentennial season and rumor has it that if Sundin falls through -- which it looks like it will -- then they are going to go hard after an offensive d-man. Mathew Schneider's name has popped up but I think Mezsaros makes a lot of sense for them as well. There system is also well stocked so they may be prepared to part with the picks. Right now according to they've got the 6+ mil in cap space to make this move.

Stay tuned.

Also a good nugget
from Bob Hunter today in his rumblings. According to him Jakub Voracek has gained 23lbs while both Brassard and Russell have added 12.

Using as a guide that would put Voracek in the 213 poung range, Brassard at 192 and Russell at 189.

Keep in mind that these kids aren't putting on this muscle to be bangers -- they just need their bodies to be able to withstand the daily grind of being in the NHL. Receiving the hits, grinding it out in corners, winning the lose puck battles, a little more jump on back2backs, etc.

Hunter also had this to say
about the roles amongst the coaching staff being shaken up:

Some duties have been shifted on the NHL club's coaching staff. Claude Noel will take over the power play this year from Gary Agnew, who will now be in charge of postgame analysis. Gord Murphy will still work with the penalty killers and defensemen.

Considering the Jackets had the 26th ranked PP last year this news can only be taken one way -- good!

I'm not one to get into political debates
-- and I certainly don't intend to do that here -- but I did want to point out that John McCain has just announced his running mate. Her name is a Sarah Palin and she is Alaska's governor. From

Palin, 44, is a self-styled hockey mom and political reformer who has been governor of her state less than two years.

There you have it!


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Traverse City Tournament roster announced has just posted the rosters for the 8 teams participating in the annual Traverse City Tournament.

In addition to the Jackest the other teams participating are the Atlanta Thrashers, Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild, New York Rangers, St. Louis Blues and Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Jackets roster is as follows:

69 Matt Calvert LW 5.09 164 CLB-08 (5-127) Brandon (WHL)
65 * Keegan Dansereau RW 5.11 190 — Swift Current (WHL)
59 * Devin DiDiomete LW 5.11 200 CGY-06 (7-187) Sarnia (OHL)
87 * Erik Felde LW 5.11 185 — Swift Current (WHL)
28 Nikita Filatov LW 6.00 172 CLB-08 (1-6) CSKA Moscow (Rus)
86 John Hughes C 5.10 175 — Brampton (OHL)
81 * Brandon Mashinter LW 6.03 212 — Kitchener (OHL)
43 Maksim Mayorov RW 6.02 187 CLB-07 (4-94) AK Bars Kazan (RUS)
84 Brian McGuirk LW 5.11 190 CLB-04 (8-231) Boston (NCAA)
72 * Andrew Merrett RW 6.02 190 — Niagra (OHL)
76 * Neal Prokop C 6.03 199 — Moose Jaw (WHL)
85 * Antoine Roussel LW 5.11 175 — Chicoutimi (QMJHL)
93 Jakub Voracek RW 6.02 190 CLB-07 (1-7) Halifax (QMJHL)
90 * Blair Yaworski C 6.02 195 — Yale (NCAA)
80 * Pascal Amyot D 6.03 202 — Saint John's (QMJHL)
44 Grant Clitsome D 5.11 206 CLB-04 (9-271) Clarkson (NCAA)
73 Steven Delisle D 6.06 209 CLB-08 (4-107) Gatineau (QMJHL)
52 Nick Holden D 6.03 195 — Chilliwack (WHL)
74 Robert Page D 6.02 203 CLB-04 (6-167) Yale (NCAA)
46 Andrei Plekhanov D 6.01 187 CLB-04 (3-96) Syracuse (AHL)
63 Brent Regner D 5.11 175 CLB-08 (5-137) Vancouver (WHL)
70 * Matt Russo D 6.01 170 — Mississauga (OHL)
66 * Sebastian Dahm G 5.11 175 — Niagra (OHL)
34 Dan Lacosta G 6.01 186 CLB-04 (3-93) Syracuse (AHL)
60 * Ryan Mior G 5.11 181 — Gatineau (QMJHL)

The Jackets schedule is as follows:

Saturday, Sept. 13
3:30 p.m. Minnesota vs. Columbus

Sunday, Sept. 14
6 p.m. Columbus vs. Dallas

Tuesday, Sept. 16
2:30 p.m. Columbus vs. St. Louis

Lots of undrated free agents in the mix - 12 to be exact - but there are exciting young players there as well in Filatov, Voracek, Mayorov, Holden, Ciltsome, Plekhanov and LaCosta. 2008 draft picks Matt Calvert, Steven Delisle and Brent Regner will also be attending. In fact there will be 12 draft picks total.

So 12 picks and 12 undrafted free agents -- sounds about right!

I think the Jackets match up well against the other rosters and for me anyways it will be extremely exciting to see how a guy like Filatov performs at this camp.

For those interested in attending -- according to Google Maps -- its a 429 mile drive (7+ hours) from Columbus OH up to Traverse City MI. Its $5 per day to attend the games.

Hey to see Filatov make his North American debut that just might be worth it.

Click here to see the tourney home page will full rosters and schedules.

Discuss - anyone going out there?


Blue biscuits

Joe Sakic is back at it for one more year according to This will mark the 20th season for the Avalanche's best ever player.

So my question is is this a good or a bad thing for the Jackets?

The good news is that with his 6 million dollar salary that takes the Avs up to over 51 million and likely finishes off their offseason. If he plays like he did last season which is to say he didn't play much (only 44 games) due to a hernia - then he won't be nearly as effective for the Avalanche thus handcuffing their offense and push for a playoff spot in the Western Conference.

That bad news is that if he returns to his 2006-2007 form where he played in 82 games and racked up 100 points that could spell trouble for the rest of fringe playoff teams in the west including the Jackets.

I think Sakic is a great player and has had an unbelievable career but here's to hoping his body doesn't hold up for an 82 game stretch!

Former Jacket and 2nd round pick Joakim Lindstrom has signed a 1 year deal with the Anaheim Ducks according to their web site.

If you recall the Ducks acquired Lindstrom this offseason for a conditional 2010 draft pick.

I would assume this deal is a 2-way but I haven't been able to confirm that yet.

According to former Crunch tough guy Brandon Sugden's bid to return to the NHL/AHL has been blocked by 3 NHL clubs.

Travis Sugden called me on Wednesday morning with some stunning news about his son, Brandon, the former Syracuse Crunch enforcer. Travis said he just found out three NHL teams have objected to Brandon returning to pro hockey this season. Brandon had planned on attending camp with the Islanders. If he did not make New York, he said he was eager to explore playing for the Crunch again.

Travis did not yet know which teams blocked Brandon. But the denial means he can’t play in the NHL or AHL until next year. Brandon needed to clear this odd technicality because after leaving the Crunch two seasons ago, he announced it as a “retirement.’’ Because he “retired’’ then came back to play pro hockey (in the LNAH) within one year, every other NHL organization had to give him a thumbs up to return.

I posted yesterday from the Crunch blog that if Sugden failed to catch onto a NHL team that the Crunch would be his first choice in the AHL -- now if the Jackets would have enterained that thought is another story -- especially with John "Nasty" Mirasty already in the fold.

Kramer has some more fallout from this story here. He's got some really good points and at the end of the day -- its just silly that any team would block him from returning.

With Sakic's future now decided it will be interesting to see if anymore dominos fall. There are still plenty of unsigned guys out there including the "Sundin Saga". Forsberg news is starting to bubble up again as well. Parrish and Murray are still hangin out on the market and we have the 5 or 6 teams that still sit above the cap let alone the two under it (Phoenix & LA). There are also a slew of RFAs left to be signed in Stoll, O'Sullivan and Meszaros to name a few.

The season doesn't start until October but the pressure is starting to mount for some of the GMs to make a couple of moves. I don't think Howson will be involved in any of the cap casualties unless a rash of injuries hit in camp.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The ice cometh!

I didn't want this to get lost in the other post from today so its gets its own!

Anyhow the Dispatch has a time lapse video of the folks over at Nationwide preparing/painting the ice -- be sure to check it out here!

There is also a nice pic of the JHM logo getting painted on in today's Dispatch.

I can just about smell the hockey season approaching!




Last night I was re-watching the Columbus-Atlanta game from December 26th 2007 (yeah I'm a dork -- well that and I needed a hockey fix) and as I heard the names rattled off during that game one thing kept occurring -- my gawd are we going to be a different squad this season.

Check out the list of names that were in that game:

Foote, Fedorov, Vyborny, Hainsey, Zherdev, Fritsche, Shelley, Brule, Glencross, Beech & Westcott

That is a total of 11 guys. When you think you can only dress 18 skaters and 2 goalies we are talking about 7 skaters out of that lineup who will be Jackets next season.

To be fair though three regulars in Nash, Modin & Peca were out of the lineup with injuries.

I know we've talked about the make over alot this summer but re-watching that game really drove it home that much more and got me even more pumped for next season.

We won that game 2-0 by the way. Fritsche and Boll with the goals and Leclaire with the shutout.

Z was clearly the best player on the ice and its game like that where you could only imagine the kind of player this kid could be if he committed himself -- unfortunately those games were to few and far between in a Jackets sweater.

That was also when Novotny was playing decent hockey. Fedorov was invisible.

A friend made a good point to me yesterday -- when is Howson going to have all these press conferences for the new players that he promised? If you recall Howson had said a few times leading into the draft and free agency that we should plan on having a lot of press conferences this summer.

He definitely acquired the players but thinking back there were no pressers. Perhaps he is planning on having one big one this summer with all the new faces to kick off camp? That would certainly be a fun and unique way to kick off the season.

Now to his defense he did have his own press conferences a few days there during free agency which were cool.

Crunch blogger Lindsay Kramer had some quotes from Crunch owner Howard Dolgon. He seems pleased with the Jackets veteran acquisitions for his squad this offseason:

"We had a much better-than-average offseason player-wise," he said. "Columbus did an outstanding job. They were very aggressive."

In another blog post Kramer also mentions the possibility of former enforcer Brandon "Sugar" Sugden returning to the Crunch:

Sugden left Syracuse during the season two years ago to play in the fight-filled Quebec League. Now, he wants to come back and play in the NHL or AHL again.

He can't announce the team yet because of a technicality. Because he said he retired, then played pro hockey again within a year, every other NHL team must give a thumbs up to him returning. The deadline for any objections was Monday, and so far Sugden has heard no objections.

If the NHL tryout doesn't work out, Sugden and Crunch owner Howard Dolgon have chatted about maybe bringing him back to Syracuse.

"If I had to choose where to play in the American League, I'd play in Syracuse,'' he said. "He (Dolgon) wants to get me back there. I don't know if it's wishful thinking on his part.''

Quite frankly I can't see the Jackets signing Sugden in addition to Mirasty. Having two enforcers doesn't make a whole lot of sense especially when you got guys like Sestito and Dorsett who aren't afraid of the rough stuff either.

Looks like Adam Foote is the clear winner in the "which player will you miss the least" poll currently occupying 47% of the votes. No surprise there. More of a surprise to me anyways is that Gilbert Brule took 2nd with 13% of the votes.

Darryl Dobbs on THN answers this question - Tanguay or Huselius?

I don’t think you can go wrong with Tanguay in Montreal. But I think both players are better off on their new teams. I know I’m in the minority when it comes to Huselius, but I think he’ll pop. That said, take the safer route with Tanguay on the Habs.

Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning Star ranked the Jackets 11th out of the West in his blog post:

11. Columbus Blue Jackets _ Commodore signing a head-scratcher, but they should be better.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

JHM patch

Puck-rakers just posted some details of the new patch to honor the late John H. McConnell on their blog and posted the actual link to what it will look like -- which of course I have posted below:Blue Jackets players will wear a patch bearing the "JHM" logo on the front right shoulder of both the home blue and road white jerseys throughout the 2008-09 season. In addition, the "JHM" logo will appear in-ice at Nationwide Arena behind each goal net and on a pair of the rink’s dasherboards.

Puck-rakers also notes that a statue to honor JHM is also in the works.

A very fitting logo for a great man. Well done Jackets! Now lets go honor him with the first ever Jackets playoff birth!!

Also check out the Jackets preseason trailer on here.


Piece of cake

A wedding cake done right:

Another reader and frequenter to the R Bar sent in this pic that I thought I'd share.

Never can get enough of anything that says "Wings Suck".

If anyone out there ever has any CBJ related pictures they would like to share here just shoot em on over to and I"ll be sure to work em in!

16 days til camp!


Monday, August 25, 2008

McConnell "no guarantees"

In case you missed it the Dispatch had a Q&A session with the Jackets new majority owner John P. McConnell.

There were the typical break the ice questions on how the team is progressing, what kind of owner will you be and how he has been dealing with the loss of his dad and business pioneer John H. McConnell.

After that though Portzline hits the good stuff and that's essentially are you going to sell this franchise or not?

Q: What assurances can you offer fans that the club won't be moved or sold?

A: I can tell them that we bought the team to have it here in Columbus. We're dedicated to keeping it in Columbus. But I can't offer guarantees. I am reasonably comfortable that we'll be here for a long time. Certainly, every fiber of what we try to do is to fulfill that original thought. My father worked on various sports commissions for probably 35 years to get a pro team for this town. It was one of his dreams. Now, sometimes in life you have to do what you have to do, but I would consider it a personal defeat if we ended up in that situation.

Q: Did you make any promises to your father that the club wouldn't be moved?

A: No. For one, he would never do such a thing. Over the last year, we never got into any discussion with the club other than "what do we do to get this team to the other level?"

I give John P. a lot of credit for being frank and not blowing smoke. As a fan its not exactly what I wanted to hear but but I do appreciate the honesty.

From an outside point of view I think the big difference here is going to be that John H. viewed this team as a gift to the city of Columbus -- a way to give back to a city that had given so much to him. John P. on the other hand is going to view this team as a business and if continues to hemorrhage millions then he may get out.

Whether or not that means he and the other owners would just sell it to investor(s) who would keep the team here or relocate it is a very good question.

The bottom line right now though is I think everyone, including the owners, want to see what kind of support a winning hockey team generates in this market. I don't care if your the Ohio State Buckeyes football team -- if you have 7 straight losing seasons fan interest is going to collapse.

As I've stated before if this team starts winning and fans support continues to dwindle then that is the point I really begin to worry about the viability of pro hockey in this market.

That was another fantastic read by the boys at the Dispatch though. Nice work again fellas!'s Allan Muir thinks Mike Commodore will be one of the UFAs most likely to bust this offseason:

4. Mike Commodore (five years, $18.75 million)

Go ahead. Roll those numbers around a bit, see if you can figure out exactly what the Blue Jackets hope to get from a deal that essentially makes a No. 1 blueliner out a guy who's better known for a wheels-off hairdo and wearing housecoats than for anything he's done on the ice. It's not just the nearly $4 million per year -- the fourth-highest salary on the team -- but the term. This is the sort of deal that will hamstring Columbus GM Scott Howson when he gets serious about building a playoff-worthy defense.

We get it Allan - the Jackets overpaid for Commodore. Oddly enough 4 out of his top 5 selections are d-men. Translation -- there is a huge premium that is paid for d-men in unrestricted free agency.

The Jackets did overpay - I don't think anyone questions that (heck Commodore has even admitted he got a very nice contract). If he's looking for Commodore to put up great offensive numbers, QB a powerplay and eat 30 minutes and game playing in all situations then yes he will be a bust in his eyes. However if your looking for Commodore to be a shutdown d-men, play tough minutes against the opponents best players, chip in a little offensively, be a leader on and off the ice and stand up for teammates which is exactly the role I see Hitch using him in then the Jackets will get what they expected when they dished out that contract.

For the record both Ron Hainsey and the Jackets #1 target Wade Redden were ranked higher than Commodore.

..and where in the heck is Jeff Finger? Are you kidding me -- this guy has played one year of pro hockey and doesn't make this list with the contract he got? Erroneous!

I love Nikita's blog (I mean who doesn't like bloggers *har har*) but I think the latest development of Howson pulling the plug on him playing exhibition games for CSKA-2 was a direct result of the Jackets blue chipper posting that he was playing on his blog.

"We knew (Filatov) was working out with the (Russian) team, but we were not aware he was playing," Howson said. "When we became aware of it (last week), we asked him to stop and he said he would."

If you recall last season the news that Alexander Svitov was "working out" with a Russian team also came out around this time. Unfortunately for the Jackets he ended up staying in Russia despite signing a two year contract extension with the team.

The good news is that Filatov didn't seem to have a problem with the request.

I know we've all heard time and time again that Filatov has every intention of coming state side but until his butt is over here I will continue to have some doubt. Burn me once....

USAToday's Kevin Allen picks his pre-season top 16 in his blog and unfortunately the Jackets aren't in it. His West picks are led by the usual suspects in Detroit, San Jose, Dallas and Anaheim. He's also got Calgary and Chicago in the mix.

The good news is that 8 teams go to the playoffs in each conference and he only ranked 6 in his top 16. That tells me one thing and its that after the top 3 or 4 teams in the west its going to be a dog fight the entire year for those remaining spots as I think both Calgary and Chicago are far from locks this season.

Eric over at has a great Q&A session with Jackets Vice President of Marketing Marc Gregory.

A couple of interesting tidbits he learned were that the Jackets would retain the "Carry the Flag" and that there would be no 3rd jersey introduced this season as the Jackets would like their new jersey to continue to build in identify -- which makes sense.

He also had this to say about a Mr. Mac tribute:

Yes we will. We will be having a tribute on opening night before the start of the game. There will also be a commemorative patch that will be worn on the jersey this year as well as the same design of the patch will be put into the ice this year. We are doing the patch and the design in the ice to honor Mr. McConnell all year long.

Something else he learned was that the cannon would be featured on the season tickets this year.


Saturday, August 23, 2008

R Bar blowout and congrats to a close friend

If your looking for something to do tonight the R Bar is having is final blowout tonight at its old location. ALL BEER MUST GO! Only $2 bucks bottle.

Also a close friend is tying the knot tonight down in the Arena District. Congrats Blue Hair Guy!


Friday, August 22, 2008

Quick hits

Just a quickie today but there is a short interview up over at with Rick Nash: It has been a busy off-season for the Jackets, adding players such as Kristian Huselius and R.J. Umberger. What’s your take on your team’s moves this summer?

RN: It’s been good. We added a lot of depth to our team and a lot of strength. It should be good, we got some scoring up front. I guess you’ll never really know until the season starts and you see how guys gel together, but on paper it looks pretty good.

Also a buddy of mine sent me over this link to a preview of NHL2K9 with our boy on the cover. Check it out here.

For me I'll be buying the NHL2K9 game on the Wii and then the EA game on the Xbox. That should cover all my basis.

Crunch blogger Lindsay Kramer talks about Shane Willis who is invited to camp on a PTO:

One of the forwards invited on a tryout deal is Shane Willis, 31. He's a legit, proven AHL scorer, posting 20 goals and 23 assists in just 43 games for Albany two seasons ago. He's also played 174 NHL games. With the team's depth at center, he'd look pretty sweet at wing.

There's a couple of catches, though. He missed all but one game last season with a neck injury. And there's no guarantee if he doesn't make Columbus that the Blue Jackets would sign him for the Crunch.

"He's a proven AHL commodity. We're going to have a look and see how he does,'' said Columbus assistant GM Chris MacFarland. "It's simply an opportunity for us to see Shane and see where he is. Where it goes from there is wide open.''

Hey the more depth the merrier!

Also I guess the Jackets have an ECHL affiliate change. According to Puck-rakers the Elmira Jackals are out and the Johnstown Chiefs are in.

Cool logo!


Jackets fantasy predictions

Well I gave you my predictions a while back but ESPN has just released their fantasty predictions and its a definitely worth a read.

Here is what they had to say about a few prominant Jackets:

Rick Nash,
2008 Statistics 38 31 2 10 95 329 20:29
2009 Projections 34 30 1 10 83 278 20:55
2009 Outlook: His skill evident by just watching one highlight from last season (“the goal”), the question with Nash will be whether the team is finally getting the right puzzle pieces to put next to him. With David Vyborny, Sergei Fedorov and Nikolai Zherdev all gone, Kristian Huselius, R.J. Umberger and one of three possible rookies will try to find chemistry with Nash. The uncertainty of his new cohorts aside, what makes Nash a top fantasy player now is that the days of being minus-35 in Columbus are gone. Nash will shoot the puck like a madman and score a lot of the time regardless of who plays next to him, and the intriguing possibility of his finding chemistry with a new linemate gives him upside to boot.

Kristian Huselius,
2008 Statistics 25 41 10 6 40 202 18:42
2009 Projections 25 37 -1 8 37 178 17:12
2009 Outlook: Huselius was pretty darn impressive the last two seasons as Jarome Iginla's partner in crime, but what of the switch to Columbus? Well, the first problem is that Huselius and Rick Nash are both natural left wingers. Chemistry with Nash and Iginla is also a very different story. Both play physical, but Iginla can adapt his game to suit those around him, whereas Nash is a one-man show who just needs a couple spotters. Huselius could fare well as a Blue Jacket, but were not comfortable with putting him as a lock for 60 points.

Nikita Filatov
2008 Statistics -- -- -- -- -- -- --
2009 Projections 21 24 -6 7 64 241 14:00
2009 Outlook: We have Filatov projected for 21 goals and 24 assists but, frankly, he has the skill to double that. By next season he should be a fantasy staple, but for this year he should be approached with nothing more than a hopeful eye. Filatov, if he even makes the team out of camp, will have to jostle with fellow rookies Derick Brassard and Jakub Voracek for significant minutes and it could be well after midseason before any of them find consistency. In fact, Brassard and Voracek would have better fantasy value this season if Filatov is sent to the junior ranks or the AHL to hone his game.

R.J. Umberger,
2008 Statistics 13 37 0 4 19 173 18:52
2009 Projections 20 33 -7 5 24 214 16:18
2009 Outlook: If nothing else, Umberger showed us last season that he has something against the Montreal Canadiens. Actually, his eight goals in their five-game playoff series showed us and the Blue Jackets a little more than that. Columbus traded for him to be an option as their No. 1 center. That means a chance to play with Rick Nash. That means he needs to be drafted in most formats as a No. 4 fantasy center.

Kris Russell,
2008 Statistics 2 8 -12 1 14 90 15:47
2009 Projections 9 34 -7 6 35 175 15:47
2009 Outlook: You are taking a risk with Russell, but the prolific WHL scorer has the opportunity and talent to put together a season worthy of a No. 2 defenseman, even though you draft him as a bench pick. His rookie season was quite ho-hum, as he posted just 10 points in 67 games, but in his last season with Medicine Hat, Russell logged 32 goals and 69 points. He was the CHL’s player of the year in 2007 and the WHL’s defenseman of the year in 2006 and 2007. The sleeper potential with Russell as power-play quarterback for the Blue Jackets, is enormous.

Its really interesting to me to read from folks who follow the team from a distance the confidence they have in Filatov. I know everyone likes the newest toy but Voracek and Brassard seem to be after thoughts to some of these folks. Perhaps Filatov is that good?

Other than that though a very good read and I love writers whom actually justify why they have chosen what they have even though I may not agree with all of it.

For more breakdowns on Leclaire, Mason, Peca, Voracek, Brassard & Modin follow this link.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Legein update

As most have already seen Puck-rakers had an update blog post about Legein:

"In my opinion, Stefan just wants to take a break. He's tired from all the things he's gone through the last two seasons, all the tournaments, the games, the shoulder injury ... all that stuff. He feels like he needs some time and space."

Woods was adamant that Legein is not suffering from anything other than loss of passion and energy. There are no health issues, he said. There is no family or personal crises. No addictions to anything, either.

"Stefan's pretty upset, actually, at some of the stuff that's been thrown around out there on these many blogs," Woods said. "These are people who don't know what's going on, and they're saying some very inaccurate and hurtful things. It's not right.

"I'm talking about the unsolicited comments on the blogs, not the (newspaper) articles that have been written. This is a 19 year old kid, all right? He has some maturing to do, but he does not deserve this."

I'm as guilty as this as anyone.

I guess at the end of the day everyone was shocked that he would consider this and over reacted including myself. As fans we all get a little tied up wanting our teams to succeed and forget these are just kids sometimes. We all think we know what's best and what's going on.

Would I have handled it differently if I were in his shoes? I hope I would have but I'm sure just about everyone one of us old enough could look back and wish they made some different decisions at that age. Part of life. Part of growing up.

Anyhow. Good luck Legein. Hopefully someday I'll blog about your return to the Jackets.

Okay I'll end my coming of age speech now.

Now lets get back to talking about the Jackets that will be here. 21 days til camp!


THN's Proteau gives Legein a pass

THN's Adam Porteau has a blog post up about the Legein story and had this to say:

I hope the young man isn’t vilified for his decision. Who among us hasn’t had doubts in our late teens (or for that matter, well beyond that age) about our direction in life? Legein’s biggest problem is he has been in a line of work that receives so much publicity and adulation most casual observers assume he should be down on his hands and knees in gratitude for the opportunities he’s been afforded.

That attitude has some degree of validity. At the same time, though, nobody knows what led this kid to his decision. There was also no guarantee he would’ve evolved into a full-time NHLer, especially with his modest size – he’s listed at 5-foot-10, which means he’s likely an inch or two shorter than that – and in the end, he’s the one who has to live with the ramifications of his choices, the same way we all do.

Oh really Adam? Somehow I think that tune he's singing would change pretty quickly if it was a Canadian team he just "retired" from.

This was an interesting rebuttal from a poster over there.

You also forgot to mention that he had no trouble taking $$ in the signing bonus before he decided to 'retire'. The Jackets have put a heck of a lot more into this kid than he has given back to him and they, if nobody else, deserve more than a random call from the agent with no explanation from him. If he is burnt out, fine, then say that and do so in a professional manner. The kid is being held accountable by an NHL team for the first time in his life, and clearly didn't care for it. Instead of responding accordingly, he decided to quit. You have to have a career of some sort before you can actually retire from it. This is nothing more than a spoiled kid throwing a tantrum.

Of course we also have the mandatory shots at Columbus and their history of losing. Gawd I hope we shove that crap down some of these folks throats next season.

As far as Legein I think its great everyone is pointing out the fact that its his choice, so what if he doesn't want to play, etc, etc. Hey, if the kid wants to party or whatever it is he's doing now and flush a promising pro career down the drain then more power to him - but at least own up to your decision and make a statement and put closure around this thing so everyone can move on.

Chris Nichols of Sportsnet takes a peak at line combos in the Central division - here was his prediction on the Jackets:


Quick notes: Rick Nash still may not have a stud number one centre with which to play, but the situation is going to look a lot more rosy in Columbus this year for him than it has in past seasons in that regard. I’m quite giddy at the thought of the season that Nashman could have, actually.

R.J. Umberger will be given a shot to feed both Nash and Kristian Huselius off the bat, which will give him a chance to emerge from the large shadows cast by Daniel Briere, Mike Richards and Jeff Carter in Philadelphia.

Young Nikita Filatov, fresh from being selected sixth overall at this summer’s draft, should infuse this line-up with offensive punch and he seems like an excellent bet to make this roster. He’s also going to be tried at centre first.

If Derick Brassard looks good in camp then it’s possible he and Filatov could be paired together on L2 despite the fact that they’re both potential centres. A veteran like Fredrik Modin might complement them nicely, if that’s the case.

Mike Peca would best be used in a third line role because of his defensive abilities, but he’s certainly quite able to step into a second line role if the kids don’t show much to begin with. If Umberger can’t get the job done on L1 (I think he’ll be ok, actually) then Peca would also do in a pinch there.

Well at least he got line one right, right?

To his defense I will say he certainly doesn't follow this team as closely as a hockey nerd like myself so I'll cut him some slack but of course I've got to dissect his lines -- its what we do here right!

I don't see any scenario where Filatov starts the year as the 2nd line center to begin with. True he could shock us all and be a franchise type guy who steps in and doesn't leave the coaching staff any choice but I find that highly unlikely. Instead I think he starts the year in the AHL or if he makes the NHL squad it will be as a wing.

I also don't think Novotny gets any higher than the 4th line other than spot duty here or there. Just to much depth in front of him now.

The second line right wing is a big question mark (which reminds that Hitch mentioned the same thing yesterday). Ideally it would be great if Voracek could slide right in there but I don't see him grabbing that spot until the second half of the year. Instead I see Torres getting a long look there with Voracek or perhaps maybe even a guy like Filatov grabbing it away later that season.

The third line will definitely see Peca in the 3rd hole with guys like Chimera and Boll on the wings.

The fourth line should see Manny in the middle as he's carved out a nice niche for himself as a face off specialist and PKer. Murray and Voracek are my bets to start on the wings early with guys like York and Novotny waiting for their shots. Pineault, Sestito and Dorsett will all be chomping at the bit for their chances should injuries hit.

Nash - Umberger - Huselius
Modin - Brassard - Torres
Chimera - Peca - Boll
Murray - Malhotra - Voracek
York, Novotny

Hejda - Commodore
Tyutin - Klesla
Russell - Backman


That's my best guess at this point should everyone remain healthy (which won't be the case).

You have to think a d-man will get injured out of that group of 9 otherwise somebody will have to go.

Same with the forwards - someone will get injured so I doubt they'll have to put Novonty or York through waivers. I see them carrying at least 1 extra forward. ranks Rick Nash as the 36th most tradeable player in the NHL:

Player: Rick Nash
Position: LW
Team: Columbus Blue Jackets
Age: 24
Contract Expires: 2010
Salary Cap Hit: $5.4M
Comment: Top-notch power forward is still looking for his first taste of playoff action and needs a stronger supporting cast if he's ever going to get there.

What's interesting is that he ranks Ovechkin ahead of Crosby as #1.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A conversation with Hitch

Hello readers. I've got a a Light the Lamp exclusive for ya (I"ve always wanted to type that!).

Thanks to a good friend and reader of Light the Lamp, I had the great fortune to sit down with Columbus Blue Jackets head coach Ken Hitchcock today over lunch and discuss a wide array of Blue Jackets topics including offseason moves, prospects, players, camp and expectations heading into the season.

Here is a recap of some of the topics we touched on:

* Brassard and Voracek are key. They aren't make or break it but the message I received is that these two will be given every opportunity to be impact players this coming season for our offense to really take step we need these two to contribute.

* The Jackets need to improve their goals for and goals against by 1 to be a playoff team. How that divides up it doesn't matter as long as it equals '1'. For instance the Jackets averaged 2.4 goals for last year and 2.54 goals against last year -- if they were to improve that to say 3.1 goals for and 2.24 goals against there would be your '1' improvement goal.

* On Brassard. Says Brass needs to work on his ability to manage the game. Right now he is a guy who likes to get the puck when he's on the move up the ice. That won't work all the time at the NHL level. He needs to learn to take what the opposition gives him. Said he did a much better job of managing the game in the AHL playoffs. We really need him to be able to hold his own out there. Said he is up to 190 lbs -- last year he came to camp at 175.

* On Voracek. Said he is incredibly aware of what is going on the ice. Said his body is NHL ready as he's gained some 20 lbs. Will have to see where he's at in camp and when I asked him where he sees him starting the year he said he would most likely start him lower in the lineup and let his "skill take over" and then go from there.

* On Filatov. Said the thing he's got going for him is that he's played against men for a year. The league he played in was comparable to the ECHL. He's only been able to watch a game of him on video but said he doesn't see a whole lot of separation between he and Stamkos. He, like the rest of us, are interested in seeing what this kid has in camp.

* On Umberger. He isn't your puck possession type of guy who can carry the puck and dipsy-doo -- he's more of a big body who goes through you and is very good down low. The thing that impresses him the most about RJ is his ability to score the tough goals down low and he just doesn't miss much from there. He also creates plays and notches assist with those little poke type passes to guys in tight traffic areas. Nothing fancy about RJ's game.

* On Huselius. A finesse player who creates space for guys like Nash. Like we've heard him say before he expects him to help Nash like he did Iginla since they play the same similar style. Said he is by far the best player we have at using mis-direction when making plays.

* Reports are that Nash has been a monster in the gym in Toronto and is really working out hard. He worked out a lot with Boll and guys like Brad Boyes. Expects an even bigger year from the franchise.

* Kelsa - Tyutin; Commodore - Hejda; Backman - Russell/Tolly/etc --- that is the initial thought on d-man pairings. Said that he will use Commodore in the exact same role that Foote was used for. Said Commodore role was lost in Ottawa and they will have a clearly defined role for him. Thinks the Tyutin pairing with Klesla will be a big key if they can mesh. Of course he re-itereated that it will take camp to sort them out.

* Would rather have two top flight pairs and then match the 3 pair up against weaker lines throughout the game.

* Backman will be the PPQB. Likes offensive game and he QBs the PP for Sweden in international competitions well. He does needs to work on his defensive game which they will focus on as coaches.

* I asked him how thing operate behind the bench defensively - i.e. does Gord Murphy call out the matchups? He said in game he controls the D but they gameplan the matchups before the game and during each intermission in case they need to change things up.

* The tentative plan is to carry 8 d-men. When I asked what happens if they have to choose between Rome and Methot due to waivers he said they get calls all the time about both of these guys so they may have a tough decision to make. Also thought Sigalet would be in the mix.

* Said he was surprised at Torres' size. He is really thick and oh yeah, he has beached blond hair. When I asked about his injury he seem to be confident he'll respond.

* When asked who would surprise this year. First name was Mason. Said this kid is that good. Second was Russell.

* Speaking of Mason, he hit the ice for the first time today in terms of taking pucks. I asked if his injury was worse than we expected he said that actually they took no risks with him and shut him down immediately. Wouldn't let him touch the ice until he was absolutely 100%.

* He loves Clitsome and sees no reason why this kid can't be an NHL defensemen after he gets at least 1 year of AHL seasoning under his belt. When I asked if he thought its b/c he played in the college for 4 years he said that two years ago the staff asked Clitsome to get in better shape -- said that was the motivation to him that said hey, maybe I have what it takes to get to the highest level. Said in college they played him 30 minutes a night so he conserved himself which hurt his conditioning. Said he loves his poise and calmness with the puck and he's really worked on his conditioning. He's just got "it". Is very interested to see if his solid performances in camp translate in games.

* Speaking of Clitsome he said these are the types of guys we need to start hitting on with late picks. Also mentioned Plekhanov as being one of those -- thinks he's maybe a 1/2 season away from being ready to play in the NHL. Loves his shot.

* Fredrik Modin got in town yesterday. Said he feels 100%. Will need camp to evaluate where he's at.

* Brule was just to small for the NHL when the organization brought him up and that hurt his development. Thinks he'll be okay and carve out a role for himself as he continues to fill out.

* He made a good point about the Swedes -- what is it about guys like Sundin, Alfredsson, Nylander and guys like that enable them to play at such a high level so late in their careers? Said someone should do a study :)

* I asked him how he was going to keep Boll's gloves on during camp -- he said "no fighting". He said this could be a really good thing for Boll as it will allow him to concentrate on other areas of his game and become a better player. You can just tell he loves this kid and thinks he can be much more than just a brawler.

* I asked him about any new philosophies coming into the season. He said he learned some new things from coaches at the World Championships and that there will be some adjustments to things like the PP, entering the zone, etc.

* On the coaching subject Hitch and his coaching staff start their day long season preparation sessions tomorrow.

* On philosophy I asked specifically if we had enough skill to enter the zone the way the Wings did on their PP which was to draw the opposition to the sides of the ice to allow a d-man like Lindstrom to carry the puck directly up the ice while backing off the d and then drop the pass to a forward like Datsyuk/Zetterberg to gain the zone. He was well aware of this strategy and said Russell and Huselius are two guys who could make that work. Didn't get sense into how confident his thoughts were in terms of having the player personnel to pull it off.

* Said Russell was more of a back door type player as opposed to a guy who sits on the point and rockets shots. Said right now his slapper isn't hard enough to scare opponents. He did say that Backman's was.

* I told him Tyutin was my favorite acquisition this offseason and asked if he could play the point. Said in NY he was a 2nd PP unit guy behind Straka (who played the point) and Rozsival -- but he's got the ability to be that #1 unit type guys including the shot. He'll definitely see time on special teams. As I stated he really wants to see how he works with Klesla.

* Another nugget on Umberger was that most of his points did not come on the PP.

* I asked him about where the offensive production on the back end would come from and he said that is going to have be answered in camp.

* Is very excited about the depth. Said a guy like Kelly would have been our second line center at the end of last season (sad I know). Said the organization is spending money to bring in guys on 2-ways and on PTOs.

* Speaking of PTOs -- another guy coming in is a guy by the name of Shane Willis.

* When I asked what if Brassard wasn't as ready as we hoped he said he would have to rely on the veterans like York, Peca, Malhotra, Kelly, MacDonald to pick up the slack. Again though I want to reiterate that Hitch realizes the importance of getting guys like Brassard and Voracek meshed into this team -- says those are the type of guys will take us to the next step.

* Hitch is excited about this market. Says now is the time to make a significant move. He doesn't want to be chasing the playoff pack this season - his goal is to be in that playoff pack jockeying for position.

* Said that when talking with various folks in the know that they told him when we played Nashville that even though we outworked them they weren't worried b/c they knew only 1 or 2 guys could score.

* When I asked him if we'd finally be able to kick Nashville's ass this season Hitch looked at me and smiled. (I know I said previously that it was Hitch who said we'd kick their ass but after thinking about it more today and running it past the reader who was there with me I think I actually asked the question -- I know its no big deal but I apologize -- the last thing I want to do is mis-represent anything or one)

It really was a fantastic meeting and he sounds genuinly excited about this upcoming season. I could have talked with him all day but I had to get back to work and he had to get to the golf course for one last round before they hit it hard tomorrow.

Thanks again to the reader whom set this up (your the best!) and for Hitch taking the time to talk a little CBJ hockey with LTL.


Don't expect Legein to be gone for long

For those who haven't heard yet, the Dispatch is reporting that 2007 2nd round pick Stefan Legein has retired.

One of the Blue Jackets' most gifted prospects apparently has decided to quit playing hockey, only three months short of his 20th birthday.

Right winger Stefan Legein, the Jackets' second-round draft pick in 2007 and a player who has represented Canada in numerous international tournaments, had his agent notify the Blue Jackets of his decision yesterday.

"Stefan has informed us that he's not coming to (training) camp," general manager Scott Howson said. "We're surprised that Stefan has decided that this is what he wants to do. We're surprised it's come to this.

"We knew there were issues with Stefan going back to last spring. We've talked through it with him and we haven't had any success."

Howson would not elaborate on those issues

"Issues" would certainly be a way to put it.

This move tells me one thing and that is that Stefan Legein doesn't quite have it all together upstairs and that he has some serious maturing to do.

Now there could be some "at home" stuff that we aren't privy too but I think that is a extremely unlikely. Especially given the "lost the passion to play" quote. Instead I think other "issues" are at play here.

So what are they?

My guess is that Legein has sailed through his hockey career to this point and now that its gotten difficult and he has to put the work in he doesn't like it.

We've heard the stories about him asking to leave the Crunch team to work out on his own -- I call BS on that one. I think he was asked to leave due to his attitude and arrogance in that locker room -- of which guys like Zenon Konopka won't and didn't stand for especially given the roll that team was on last season.

That attitude may have carried over in prospect camp and he wasn't "the man" and given a free pass like perhaps he had gotten earlier in his career and he took offense to that. Instead of staying and putting in the extra time in Columbus like some of the other prospects he went home to Toronto. What does that say about this guy's commitment?

Heck maybe he's home sick or "in love".

Bottom line here is that whatever the reason may be Stephan Legein has a lot of growing up to do. Being a professional athlete isn't something that is just given to you -- you have to work for it. You have to be a good teammate and when the going gets tough, you suck it up -- you don't just quit.

I'm sure some of the negative CBJ voices out there will spin this as some sort of massive failure on the Jackets part to develop their prospects but honestly I don't think there is much here to pin on them in this particular case (we certainly can't say that for everyone though).

The one beef I have here with the Jackets is how the scouts didn't catch the apparent flaws in this kid's mental fortitude? To quit as a 20 years old b/c of what appears to be a "loss of passion for the game" shows that the Jackets scouts missed on where this kid was at mentally. That said, perhaps that is why he was a 2nd round pick instead of a 1st and that it was a risk they were willing to take.

One thing we can say for sure is that the Jackets luck with 2nd rounders continues to stink.

Here is the list of former 2nd round picks:

Tim Jackman, Kiel McLeod, Joakim Lindstrom, Dan Fritsche, Adam Pineault, Kyle Wharton, Adam McQuaid, Stephan Legein, Will Weber & Cody Goloubef

With Legein out (for now) only Pineault, Weber and Goloubef remain with the organization from that group.

Don't fret too much though Jacket fans. Legein will be back. You just don't quit cold turkey on something you've done your entire life especially when you can make the kind of living a pro hockey player can.

He's young and he's making an in the moment decision that young people make. Once Legein has some time to reflect on his decision and realize what his future holds in the "real world" he'll be back at it. It may not come by camp but it will come. His father even hints at that with this quote:

"When does training camp start, Sept. 19 or 20?" Chris Legein said. "Until Sept. 20, he hasn't quit anything."

At this point though really the only person Legein is hurting is himself. If there is one position the Jackets could afford this to happen to it would be wing. That road to the NHL just got longer for this kid.

From bad news to good -- the same article states that Nikita Filatov's visa has been approved and he's expected to come to North America September 7th. This news tells me that any conspiracy theories I may have concocted can certainly be put to bed.

Oh and mad props
to Bethany over at Bethany's Hockey Rants for breaking this story. She's got a great CBJ blog over there is a very passionate fan.

Discuss - thoughts on Legein?


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Kinda cool

The Jackets official web site has just released some new wallpapers -- here is a shot of Nash:

They've got six more in addition to Nash with Modin, Boll, Chimera, Leclaire, Peca & Brassard.

Of course many of the new faces have yet to debut in the their new Jacket duds so expect guys like Huselius, Commodore, Tyutin, Torres & Umberger to get their wallpapers.

I'm sure it won't take long for guys like Russell, Voracek and Filatov to force their way into that mix as well.

Click here to see them all.

Also check out the Jackets web site for some video and an interview with Howson throwing out the first pitch last night at Cooper Stadium.


Latest on Filatov

Wow what a boring NHL news day!

The only real noteworthy nugget going on was what Erik pointed out in the comments of the previous post and that was the latest info on Nikita Filatov provided by Puk-rakers:

NHL agent Don Meehan told me today that Nikita Filatov and his family are in the process of making plans to fly to Toronto, perhaps as soon as later this week. It's expected that Filatov's visa will be approved by the U.S. Embassy in Moscow within the next couple of days.

The plan is for Filatov and his family to spend a few days with Meehan and others from the agency.

The part that is the most interesting to me is the "Toronto" line. Now I may be reading into this (and at this point I'm so bored that I'm grasping at anything to make some coversation) but if Filatov had his US visa why not come directly to Columbus? Couldn't his family help him get situated in Columbus for a few days just as easily as they could in Toronto? Russian can come visit simply with a passport if I'm not mistaken.

One thought in particular is that Canada's immigration laws are much more relaxed than those of the US. It wouldn't surprise me that the Filatov's plan is to come over to Toronto before his actual US visa is established just to get out of dodge and ensure there isn't any funny business in Russia. Kind of a cloak and dagger sutiation just to be on the safe side.

Of course it could be just as Portzline prints that they want to hook up with his agent in Toronto and then head down to Columbus once everything is in order, legalized and the family is comfortable (but then that would be to boring to blog about). also takes a quick look at 2009 free agents. Here is what they had to say about Columbus' crop:

Christian Backman ($3.4 million)
After a brief stint on Broadway, the solid second-pair blueliner will try to prove he isn’t as prone to injuries as his past suggests.

Manny Malhotra ($1.5 million)
Who knows what Malhotra could have achieved if he was developed properly with the Rangers when he entered the league.

Michael Peca ($1.3 million)
Once thought of as one of the game’s great leaders, the 34-year-old is now little more than a fringe player on the only NHL team to have never made the playoffs.

Other ’09 UFAs - Fredrik Norrena, Mike York.

Nothing too exciting there although if one were to assume none of those players were to return then that is a saving of 7.1 million (plus whatever York would make if he makes the big squad).

Of course expect the big story next offseason for the Jackets to be getting Rick Nash extended. Everything else will take a back seat to that until it gets done.

Anyone out there make it out to the Clippers game last night? Apparenlty Scott Howson threw out the first pitch while Derick Brassard, Jared Boll and Kris Russell flipped the "countdown to Huntington Ballpark" sign in the outfield. Hitch was also in attendance.

CBJ continues to represent this offseason.

23 days til camp!!


Monday, August 18, 2008

Stat of the day

A friend of mine just pointed out this stat.

Did you know that last year the Jackets were 12th overall in the league in shootout shooting percentage?

Did you also know that last year the Jackets were dead last in is goals against in the shootout?

Something tells me that Marlachuk better focus in on some shootout training this offseason. A really good suggestion my friend made -- start with a video of all the shootout goals scored and stopped and expose weaknesses/strengths and go from there.

Its vitally important for the Jackets to improve upon that stat as a point here or there could mean the difference between the playoffs or the greens in April in what I expect to be a very tight Western Conference battle.

Modin at center? I grabbed this quote off of HFBoards from a Swedish poster who saw these quotes in a Sweden newspaper. They are from Fredrik Modin and talks about him being asked to play center plus more:

"The talk in the dressingroom is a bit different. It's most about video games and pokemoncards. Well, I guess the guys in my team has grown up from the pokemoncards, he laughs.

He mentions that he's happy with the additions made this offseason and he's really looking forward to the season.

"We have added some more routine to the team. Earlier we've had a lot of young guys with a lot of talent, but maybe they've been a little to many. This year we're gonna have a little better mix. What we misses is a center."

"The winger has played a little bit of center during his years in Columbus and he's been asked to play Center this upcoming season, but he told them no."

"I'm really not a center, If where gonna fight for a playoff spot this season we really have to have a real first line center."

"And fight, thats something Fredrik is totally set to. Stronger than ever he's ready to lead his Columbus to a historic first playoff."

From what I was told he was asked to play center last season not this coming one.

I would also like to have a #1 guy but the fact of the matter is there are only a 10 to 12 true #1 guys out there and unfortunately we weren't able to obtain one. Still this is by far the best Jackets team to date and while not flashy up the middle there are some capable guys. The key though is how young Brassard performs after a year of development in the AHL and what a guy like Umberger can bring to the lineup.


If you could change 5 things...

..about the Nationwide Arena hockey experience what would it be? Here are a couple of low cost suggestions that I think could really enhance the hockey experience:

1. MORE REPLAYS! I've been saying this for years now but I will never understand why Nationwide does not show more replays of goals, hits, bad calls, etc, etc. I've heard the excuse that they don't want to show up the refs but this is a fast sport and its hard to catch everything. Besides isn't the idea to get the crowd involved and create a tough home crowd atmosphere -- well nothing gets the crowd involved like replaying what actually happened on the ice good or bad. I've been to plenty of other NHL arenas and they do a much better job in this area and it really does improve the experience.

2. Lose the movie clips! How many times have the Jackets scored (okay not much but I digress) in a close game where the crowd has went wild only to see the game ops folks play some stupid movie clip that completely sucks the life out of the building as everyone looks to the scoreboard to see it and stops cheering? I could see using them if the crowd is quite and sitting on their hands but when the crowd is already wound up and cheering let em go and just play some music or something which leads me to....

3. Know your demographic! Lets be honest here -- you look around the crowd at an NHL hockey game and what do you see? For the most part of a bunch of young to middle aged Caucasians -- well how about playing some music that actually lends itself to this audience? People aren't there to learn the latest underground techno push in Columbus.....just some good ole fashioned familiar crowd pleasing fist pumping rock n' roll will do just fine.....and lose the friggan Sponge Bob Square Pants -- that's just embarrassing. This is hockey not a Nickelodeon afternoon special.

4. Cannon & goal song. I think they were off to a good start last year but it needs some tweaking. My suggestion is when the Jackets score a goal immediately play a part of the Joe Satriani crowd chant song and then roll into a countdown for goals scored followed by a "FIRE!" with cannon boom.

Example: Nash scored goal #3. Satriani plays. Scoreboard then flashes with crowd chanting 1! -- 2! -- 3! -- FIRE (with cannon boom) !

5. Tone done the advertisements/gimmicks. Look I know its a business and the Jackets have sponsor obligations. I get that. However do we need every single intermission or stoppage in play to be a Chipotle parachute drop or replays of the fat guy dancing?. How about some replays sponsored by (insert company name here) , highlights, or some Jackets montages -- keep the focus on the hockey that's being played out there. I think the Jackets are past the point of gimmicks and I think there is plenty of room for improving the focus on what's happening on the ice.

I know the Jackets themselves have an obligation to give them something to sell by playing well but players feed off of crowd and building energy and I think game ops has really gotten away from building that over the years -- of course 7 straight losing seasons doesn't help.

Now I hate only being negative so lets talk some positives as well.

I loved the incorporation of the cannon last season as it really gave a Jackets game that kind of signature experience you can only find in Columbus. In fact the whole play off the civil war theme really worked -- from the drum line to the fife to selling the civil war hats it all added to make the Jackets a unique NHL experience and really helped sell the "Blue Jackets" name and the part Ohio played in that era of history. I thought it was a good mix and I really hope they continue build off of that this season.

Now of course I could say lower the prices on beer, food, tickets, etc but its pro sports and I've come to expect that no matter how much I'd like to buy beer for the same price I'd get at Giant Eagle it just ain't happening. That said the Jackets do have to keep a close eye on such things as the bottom line is that if you make things to expensive you could price yourself right out of a pro franchise. Some of the season ticket holder "free food" promotions last year were a great place to start.

At the end of the day though a winning hockey club makes everyone's job and experiences better. The #1 focus is and always should be icing a winning product. It never does hurt though to strive for the best you can in all areas of the operation as there is nothing like a rocking crowd and with the right tweaks here and there I think we can get that back.

Discuss - what do you like/dislike about your hockey experience at Nationwide?


Friday, August 15, 2008

Making the cut took a look at team's they thought had good offseasons and the Jackets were one that made the cut:

Blue Jackets -- If R.J. Umberger can be the No. 1 center that Rick Nash has never had with the Blue Jackets, then a 50-goal season isn't out of the question, especially with the help of playmaking wing extraordinaire Kristian Huselius over from Calgary as a free agent. Depth? The Jackets never were sure what they were going to get from Nikolai Zherdev. They've gone more conventional with hard-working additions like Umberger and Raffi Torres in a trade with Edmonton. Fedor Tyutin just might be Columbus' best defenseman right away, coming over from the Rangers with fellow blueliner Christian Backman.

They didn't even mention Commodore or depth signing like Mike York. Throw Brassard/Voracek/Filatov in that mix and I'm tellin yeah, look out for us NHL.

They ranked Detroit as the team whom had the best offseason. When you can convince the biggest free agent on the market to forgo a moster payout to take a one year deal then its certainly hard to argue that point.

Although the flip side of that from a player perspective is that I think Hossa was the most foolish free agent of all -- you don't turn down that kind of pay day that would set your family up for generations to come in a game where your one hit away from the end of your career.

As I mentioned in the comments section of the previous post the war between the NHL and KHL is really beginning to heat up.

Check out the latest developments from this article highlighted by:

There is a scheduled meeting on September 4 in New York where representatives from the NHL, the KHL, and other ice hockey federations that is supposed to tackle issues such as the transfer agreements and the logistics of holding a hockey World Cup in 2012, but NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly isn't so sure the league should be at the meeting.

"We are not certain we are going to go forward with the meeting at this point. Our position with the IIHF has been very clear. If the KHL doesn't disqualify Alexander Radulov from playing in their league so he can abide to his contractual obligations to Nashville, we have no interest in meeting with them and or engaging in discussions over any broader cooperative relationship with them," Daly told The New York Sun. "You know, we would still like to, and we still have offered to meet with the IIHF and the other federations, but it is not certain at this point in time where that will happen or not.

Larry Brooks of the NYPost has this to say about a secret meeting Bettman had with KHL Pres Alexander Medvedev regarding the Radulov dispute:

When Bettman threatened legal action, Medvedev essentially invited the commissioner to present his case in Russian court, reminding the commissioner that the NHL success rate in the Russian legal system is equal to the zero-percent success rate of Russian hockey interests in the US court system.

The Post has learned that Medvedev, citing common practice in international soccer, offered to pay a transfer fee to the Predators in order to resolve the dispute, but that Bettman refused to consider the proposal. The NHL has forbidden its teams to pay transfer fees to European clubs.

Out of both of the articles I found this to be the most interesting part:

The Post has learned that Medvedev also informed Bettman that the KHL would hold a universal draft for the 2009-10 season that will include players currently under contract in the NHL. Medvedev told Bettman KHL clubs will offer signing bonuses of $1M to players who are playing in the NHL this season.

The more I read about things like this the happier I am that Zherdev is history. That's not to say we won't possibly have our own issues to worry about with CBJ Russians Tyutin, Filatov, Mayorov & Plenhanov but noone in that group would have worried me like enigmatic Z. Call it a hunch or whatever you'd like but I just have this feeling his Russia bound after this year with New York. If he falls flat on his face in the big apple take it to the bank.

Speaking of Filatov. As I also stated in the comments word is that the Radulov IIFH ruling is supposed to go down today. If so my guess is that they'll announce the other players whose playing status is under investigation including our man Filatov.

If anyone here's of any news please post it in the comments and I'll add it to this post.

Update: A reader just pointed out this article that says the IIHF ruling on Radulov has been pushed back which most likely means that any ruling on Filatov will be pushed back as well:

The International Ice Hockey Federation had hoped to complete its investigation by mid-August, but a spokesman said Thursday that schedule is no longer feasible.

"We believe that we won't be able to meet the mid-August ambition,'' IIHF spokesman Szymon Szemberg said. "Our legal people are working on this and it is our ambition to communicate the result as soon as it is possible.''


From contraction to Commodore

Hey guess what? There is an article about contraction and the Columbus Blue Jackets aren't mentioned. Who woulda thunk it?

1. Less is more: We're talking contraction here, fewer teams means better quality of play and so much more. Ding six franchises to get the league down to 24 teams (12 per conference, six in each of four divisions). Who goes? Atlanta Thrashers, Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals and Nashville Predators. Hey, look at that, no more Southeast Division.

I know its a slow hockey month and it inevitable that the somebody will dust off and recycle the ole "contraction" article, stamp a new date on it and call it interesting. Personally I will never take any of these contraction blog/articles/whatever seriously until the writer suggests that his favorite team gets contracted.

Caps head man Ted Leonis had a nice response to this writer on his blog here.

I really don't think people understand all that goes into a pro sports franchise and it certainly isn't nearly as easy as driving some moving trucks up to an arena, packing up some hockey equipment and hauling ass to a new city which Leonis illustrates well in his rebuttle.

I won't sit here and say that hockey works in all its current markets but to me the biggest guage of success/failure of a market is if the support isn't their if a team is actually contending. As a Columbus fan that is when I would start to get nervous.

College hockey fans its being reported that CCHA is going to a shootout according to this article.

"The shootout has proved to be an exciting addition to hockey at a variety of levels and we are anxious to bring it into college hockey. The drama it creates is very popular with fans, and importantly, today\'s players love it," said CCHA Commissioner Tom Anastos.

"At the same time, the NCAA rules and ice hockey committees have allowed us to implement this tie-breaker protocol so that every regular-season league game will have a winner while preserving the integrity of the national rankings because CCHA games decided by a shootout will still be considered ties for NCAA purposes. Bonus points awarded will impact the conference standings only."

The article goes on to say that a total of 90 games ended in ties over the CCHA's past three seasons. They will use a "NHL style" three person shootout format.

As I've stated before I'd rather see the teams decides it in game play but for the regular season only I'm just fine with shootouts. I just wish the teams I root for were better at em!

Funny story. A friend of mine, who believe it or not is a bigger CBJ die hard than I am, is getting married next Saturday. Many may know him as the "Blue Hair Guy" who has spent many a long night at the R Bar. There will be plenty of Blue Jacket "flavor" to his wedding ceremony including exchanging vows underneath the arch down in the Arena District across from Nationwide, to a Stinger appearance at his reception to having Mike Todd DJ the reception among many many other things - hell he's even got us wearing blue tuxes.

Part of the plan was to have some custom jerseys made for the reception for he and his bride but unfortunately after placing a call to the Blueline downtown he was told they were out of the letter 'O'.

Now think about this for a sec -- why would they be out of the letter 'O'? Apparently new Jacket Mike Commodore stopped in and ordered 50 jerseys for what I"m sure is for friends, family and charities.

So if your looking to customize a jersey and you've got an 'O' in your last name you may have to wait a bit. Your killing us Mike! Although one of those jerseys would sure make a nice wedding gift!

P.S. That pic of him never gets old...