All-Blogs.net directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: Here we go again

Countdown to Rick Nash's contract expiration:

Friday, January 23, 2009

Here we go again

News broke yesterday via Puck-rackers that Hitch will be trying Jason Chimera at center when he returns to the lineup on Tuesday.

My reaction was the same as when I heard this about Zherdev, Vyborny, Modin & Nash.

Ain't gonna work.

In fact I give it two shifts.

I've covered this before but again at this level is very rare to move a player out of their natural position and expect success. I love Chimera but he has enough to worry about playing his natural position at left wing.

At the end of the day Chimera could play goalie for all I care as long as the team wins but for the sake of discussion I'm not expecting a whole lot out of this one other than another message to Howson from Hitch, be it unintentional or not, to go out and get me another center.

On the heals of The Sports Business Journal reporting that Jackets ratings are up 40+% Puck-rakers also reported that ratings for Wednesday's game against the Calgary Flames drew a 3.19 rating which was the best since 2001.

That is stunning, especially given the timeslot, and a wonderful sign for this market. If those ratings are ramping up that much now just think what they could be when/if this team is in the hunt in March let alone if they sneak into the playoffs!

According to TSN.ca the NHLPA has officially declined to re-open the CBA.

"Today's announcement that the NHLPA's membership is committed to playing under the CBA for two more years is great news for all hockey fans," said Kelly. "While the NHLPA's membership has issues with the current Agreement, the players and their Executive Board decided that due to the current economic conditions as well as the players' focus on continuing to help grow this game and expose our great athletes to many more fans, now is not the appropriate time to enter complex labour negotiations."

Considering the salary cap has increased some 40% since the first year of the agreement I think the players have done okay for themselves.

Trying to play Mr. Objectivity for a second.. to me this system is working. Does it have some areas where it can improve on both sides? Yes.. of course. No agreement is perfect. However this agreement has leveled the playing field and has given every market a chance if managed correctly -- heck, for proof just look at how many teams are still alive for a playoff first over halfway through the season.

The agreement has also brought some fiscal sanity to the league. Now should the stronger teams be expected to prop up the struggling markets forever? No. The key indicator to me is if a team is winning and there is still no support then it may be time to take a serious look at things -- that goes for Columbus as well which being the homer that I am I can only hope it never to comes to that.

Of course contraction or moving a team is much more complicated than the waive of a magic wand or typing it into some blog. There are many dependencies interwoven in such a process including building leases, sponsor commitments, board of governor approvals, city obligations, employment impact, charities on and on and on.

I also think that if a true partnership is to be made then the NHLPA should have more of an active voice and financial stake in things like expansion, relocation, special events, etc. Steps have been taken in that direction such as the competition committee but more are needed.

For the league I'm sure they'd like to revisit the UFA eligibility rules and caps on contract lengths among others.

Personally I'm just glad both sides weren't stupid enough to slide in the direction of a lockout/strike so soon after the one that cost everyone an NHL season in '04-'05. I hate to think of what this league would look like after another protracted labor standoff.

The agreement expires in 2 seasons but the players do have an option for another year.

Its mid-season grade time.

First lets look at what THN.com had to say about the Jackets:

About What I Expected:
Columbus: Is this the best Blue Jackets team in franchise history? Right now, I would say yes. Is that going to be good enough for the first playoff appearance in franchise history? Right now, I would say no. And yes, that abominable power play (still dead-last in the league at an almost criminal 11.4 percent) still has much to do with my answer.

Now over to ESPN.com:

Columbus Blue Jackets: CSteve Mason and his play in the Columbus goal is one of the more compelling stories of the season, but it still might not be enough to get the Blue Jackets into the playoffs for the first time. They picked up Jason Williams, who had been a bust in Atlanta, but they still lack a No. 1 center for Rick Nash. Heading into Wednesday, they were just three points out of eighth with two games in hand.

I can't agree more about the PP. They have somehow survived this long essentailly without one but it absolutely must improve in these remaining games if the Jackets want to sneak in. I really believe that.

It looks like Nash is in for the NHL All Star game but Filatov is out for the AHL All Star game. Derick MacKenzie will be taking his place.

The Crunch may be coming back to life a little bit.. they blanked Rochester 4-0 last night off the heals of a Dan LaCosta shutout. Vigilante, Garlock, Kelly & MacKenzie collected the goals.

Sports Illustrated takes a stab at what their starting All Star lineups would be if fans were taken out of the voting (which to me isn't a bad idea considering the outcome this season - I mean no Ovechking in the starting lineup -- c'mon).

EASTERN CONFERENCE

G Tim Thomas, Bruins
D Zdeno Chara, Bruins
D Andrei Markov, Canadiens
C Evgeni Malkin, Penguins
LW Alexander Ovechkin, Capitals
RW Alexander Semin, Capitals

WESTERN CONFERENCE

G Steve Mason, Blue Jackets
D Dan Boyle, Sharks
D Shea Weber, Predators
C Pavel Datsyuk, Red Wings
LW Patrick Marleau, Sharks
RW Jarome Iginla, Flames


Yep that is our very own Steve Mason styling for the West.

Although honestly I think the best outcome happened for the Jackets as this kid desperately needed a break and his absence at the Young Stars game is a middle finger firmly extended in the direction of one Colin Campbell.

More All Star. Looks like Crosby is back in according to Darren Dreger at TSN:

Pittsburgh has no intention of testing NHL commissioner Gary Bettman's threat to suspend those who choose not show in Montreal for this weekends All-Star festivities.

Penguins captain Sidney Crosby is en route to Montreal and will arrive early this afternoon to fully participate in all off-ice All-Star activities.

The NHL says it will enforce an understanding that all players who decline to show after being named to the All-Star teams must miss at least one game before or one game after the All-Star weekend.


Guess we know why Nash is there don't we?

Putting my Mase bias aside for a second, I can understand the league and the players positions. The league wants to showcase its stars and has television commitments. From a player's perspective this is one long grueling season and even though the All Star game is relaxed, that 4 days of R&R out of the spotlight has to look mighty tempting.

Rules are rules.. I'm just glad they weren't in place for the youngsters.

The real beauty out of this is if Datsyuk and Lindstrom don't play guess which game they would have to sit out? That's right... Columbus on Tuesday.

A reminder that if you need your hockey fix and the All Star game doesn't do it for ya -- there is some other great hockey in town as the hockey Buckeyes, unbeaten in their past 12, take on Western Michigan both Friday and Saturday nights. I'll be heading out to Saturday's game to catch the action.

-LTL

1 comment:

Michael said...

Did you know that cause of that all star rule.. datsyuk and lidstrom wont play against us tuesday night. Thank god datsyuk was a jacket killer in the truest sense.