directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: McConnell "no guarantees"

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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.



pete goegan said...

I think the key comment from JPM is that it would be a "personal defeat" for the team to have to move. Guys like that do not take defeat well and will do everything possible to avoid having to admit to one. I see this as a very strong statement of commitment.

WALLY said...

I don't think either McConnel could live with the club bleeding money forever... but I think they realize that they need to step up their game before they even think about pulling the plug.

Anonymous said...

The club wouldn't be bleeding money had Maclean not negotiated the RIDUCLOUS deals with both Nationwide and televsion.

erik said...

It's simple, if they don't generate a profit in the next 5-10 years they pull the plug.. and sell it off to some Canadian billionaire... But like JPM said it would be a personal defeat..

I really think with Hitch and Howsen we have one heck of a combo.. they are leading us in the right direction.. (can't the season start already ???)

Anyways.. anybody know if the preseason games are televised or perhaps streamed online live. ???

Futhermore, anybody have any info on Sundin, Sakic and the rest of rumor-central ??? I am hoping we can pick up a good player in the confusion these guys will create... The CBJ deserve a lucky pickup...

Anonymous said...

I think he says 'no guarantees' in the same way Hitch and Howson haven't guaranteed the playoffs.

Anonymous said...

I have serious doubts about osu fans bailing on the team even in that's kinda a moot point since there has been only 2 head coaches whose career w-l record ended up with a losing record......we (cbj) start winning and start winning consistently...we can enjoy the sort of support OSU also has a lot to do with the fact that no-one goes to bluejacket university to try to figure their live's like coming back home....if only for a weekend


Anonymous said...

How in the world is Sergei Fedorov's deal not mentioned in any of the off-season's worst signings lists? He will be 39 years old, was a minus player, had 41 points in almost 18 minutes of ice time and gets 4 million bucks!??

His agent is REALLY playing up that old 'wise old russian veteran' card. That agent must be one hell of a salesman.

LTL said...

Erik - just heard that Joe Sakic will have a press conference on Thursday to announce his intentions.

Check out the TSN story here -

I haven't heard anything about preseason games being televised but I hope at the very least they get one in. It would be sweet if at least streamed them.


Erik said...


My gut feeling is that Sakic isn't too excited about the current roster and decides to retire... since the odds are there won't be a stanley cup in Colorado before is 50.. My second guess would be a 1-year retirement deal, a goodbye year..

Of course I am hoping the Rangers sign both Sundin and Sakic and sell of Gomez to the Jackets.. (Come on hockey gods make this happen!!)

I sure hope they at least stream the video online... come on blue jackets make it happen