directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: This and that

Countdown to Rick Nash's contract expiration:

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

This and that asks is Columbus "Playoff-bound?"

With the All-Star break rapidly approaching, the surging Blue Jackets suddenly find themselves in a position to be in the playoff race until the very end. They currently sit in eighth place in an extremely tight Western Conference race.

"We are willing to do anything to win a hockey game, from a work standpoint," Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock said. "If it's not pretty, at least we're working. Tonight wasn't a masterpiece, but we worked and we stayed with it, we battled. The people in the stands really recognize that right now. (The fans) won't let the team drop their level (of play). I feel it on the bench, they are demanding that we keep going and I haven't felt that since I started coaching here (until now)."

Perhaps the most impressive part of the Blue Jackets' recent run has been their ability to win games despite being hit hard by the injury bug. Columbus is playing without captain Rick Nash, as well as six other regulars.

"We're showing a lot of poise and a lot of patience from what is a very young team right now," veteran center Michael Peca said. "We're getting great contributions from everyone in this locker room right now."

The fact they are doing this with some many injuries is the story right now.

Another day.. another story about Steve Mason..

..the catch?

This one is from Australia! Check out this link via the

Our good buddy Eklund will not get off the Jason Spezza rumors...

There is no doubt that Mason who is having a magic season to date has knocked out the incumbent, and yet Pascal Leclaire is no slouch and still highly regarded. Many believe that Leclaire, who just last year was a shutout machine while playing for an average defensive team, could still eclipse many of the current NHL starters.

From a source, "The Islanders are holding onto Doug Weight and with news the Dipietro may be done for the year, the time may be right to make a move. Leclaire could be a nice insurance policy and if they move for him now, they could always package Leclair again prior to the deadline should a contender's #1 go down."

The Ottawa Senators are also very much in on this as well as I, and pretty much everyone else, have stated for the last 10 days.

The Jackets love Spezza. Hitchcock particularly likes him and believes that he should and could be the perfect star to play with Nash.

The Sens are definitely interested in Leclaire.

Maybe I'm completely wrong about this but I see no way the Jackets make a play for Spezza... none! The economics just do not work with a contract like that with this market and the way Howson is building this team. That without factoing in the question marks that surround Spezza regarding his character and committment or the price it would take to trade for him.

If the Jackets believe Mase is their ace right now and think they can ride this horse all season perhaps they consider dealing Leclaire. I still don't buy it... besides who is going to deal for an injured Leclaire especially now that we are hearing he is considering ankle surgery? If you deal him you better be sure damn sure about Mase and this kid is going to need a rest and is still just a rookie... you'll also need to bring in a capable backup.

The pie in the sky is great but that is all Spezza is. I believe Howson will concentrate on acquiring capable and competitve players who will fit into the salary structure of this team now and into the future. He will not mortgage the future. Howon's philosophy is the right one and that is to build the core of your team through the draft and them compliment that nucleous. Guys like Mason/Brassard/Russell/Voracek/Dorsett/Boll/Filatov are the players that will take this team to the next step.

So with that said this team has holes that I expect Howson to fill. I look for guys who will be a UFA this season or next (ex. Weight, Antropov or Kubina) or your younger players who may need a change of scenery (ex. Vermette, Lombardi) that aren't superstars, won't cost arms and legs but will compliment this roster....think RJ Umberger mold.

Puck-rakers is reporting that Curtis Sanford has been put on waivers.

The Jackets are rumored to be interested as well as the Dallas Stars. The Stars are below us in the standings so they will get priority in terms of claiming him. If he slips past them and the Jackets do grab him then we'll know something is definitely up w/ it injuries, trade bait, etc.

Then again Leclaire is on the IR so they could still pick him up, send LaCosta down and if Leclaire does come back just put him on waivers again.

Stat watch. R.J. Umberger scored his 13th goal of the season, matching the total he had all last season with Philadelphia.

Winter Classic watch. According to Michael Buteau at Bloomberg:

The Las Vegas Strip, Yankee Stadium and California’s Rose Bowl are on the list of potential sites for the National Hockey League’s annual outdoor game, NHL Chief Operating Officer John Collins said.

The league is evaluating potential locations of future outdoor games two weeks after this season’s edition, between the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks at Wrigley Field on Jan. 1, drew the highest television ratings for the NHL in 34 years.

“This is really kind of becoming a destination event for hockey fans, but also sports fans,” Collins said in a telephone interview. We want to “open it up to the masses.”

My money is on Yankee Stadium getting the game for next year. I like the idea of hosting these in NHL cities with passionate fans and not turning this into some kind of glitzy 3 ring circus. The outdoor bringing the game back to its roots cold weather backdrop formula works.

I mean Vegas? C'mon guys. Every NHL city would like a piece of this action so lets keep the focus there. The All Star game would be one thing since that is a phony 3 ring circus anyways.



Anonymous said...

Well the shoe finally dropped...Clay Wilson to Atlanta for Jason Williams a right handed forward that can play p/p point...sweet!!!

LTL said...

Really? Wow..


chunx said...

hell yes ! i love it... its not flashy or splashy but its a GREAT MOVE and it didnt cost us the farm... clay wasnt gonna make it here anyway...

im really glad this happened...

also... i hope we can snag sanford to give MASE a well deserved rest every few games...

LOVE IT ...........

Anonymous said...

I forgot to mention deal also included the 6th round pick we got from San Jose for Shelly

JAL said...

Yep, a really nice move by Howson. Until LTL can get his analysis up, check out the summary of the deal over at A Shot From The Point

And so it begins . . .


Hitch Rules said...

LTL: Glad you got the Williams info!

Will Puke-lund EVER give it a rest? Perhaps he's related to former Prez/GM/Coach Emeritus Dougy Mac, and would savor such a franchise-wrecking deal, particularly if the CBJ have to mortgage ANYTHING. It would set us back, years.

I believe the approach is sound, one the Hawks are using, and primarily used last year - develop the kids, develop organ-I-zation depth, acquire a quality UFA, or two (i.e. Campbell), and be a playoff regular (participant). If the CBJ make the playoffs, this year, trust me, UFAs will want to come here, and we won't have to overpay (i.e. Brendan Morrison).

Stated another way, the short mortgaging doesn't work - just ask the Thrashers (picking up Geurin and Tkachuck for one inept playoff appearance).

Also, if there are concerns about the impatient fan base, just witness the crowds, recently. They sense the improved team fortunes, and appear to be satisfied with the progress.

Carry the Flag! Ignite the Night!

LTL said...

Nice write up JAL. I liked your "sleight of hand comment" -- it was a bit of a curve ball but makes sense.

Speaking.... I still need to do my best Canadian impersonation!


Max said...

Time out. How the hell do you have an outdoor game in Las Vegas or Los Angeles? Talk about ice nightmare. Give me a break. Keep he outdoor games where it's cold.