directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: 07/01/2009 - 08/01/2009

Countdown to Rick Nash's contract expiration:

Friday, July 31, 2009

Inconsistency... indifference... barely competed..

Today is a big day for our old pal Mr. Nikolai Zherdev.

Check out this scathing piece by Larry Brooks of the NY Post:

The 24-year-old winger, acquired last summer from Columbus in a trade featuring once-untouchable, young defenseman Fedor Tyutin going the other way, was the team’s Art Ross leader with 58 points, with his 23 goals, 35 assists and plus-six rating all second on the club in those respective categories.

From both the statistical viewpoint and CYA analysis, GM Glen Sather would be justified keeping Zherdev, even if he’s awarded $4M. But there is no subjective eyes-on analysis under which Zherdev is worth that investment. His inconsistency was matched only by his indifference.
He barely competed for the puck, rarely went to the front, and hardly ever seemed hungry enough to score that he’d give up his body to drive to the net.

Invisible down the stretch run in which he recorded only two assists in the season’s final seven games while going minus-three, Zherdev disintegrated in the playoffs, going pointless and minus-three in the seven-game defeat to the Caps.

Imagine if Howson didn't unload him last summer? This would still be our mess.

Z's days in New York are definitely numbered regardless of how this arbitration hearing plays out. The bigger question now where does he land?

There are some rumblings that Nashville could be a spot... and let's not kid ourselves, they are desperate enough for help up front that I could see them taking a chance. The Islanders are perhaps another spot but would they want to expose Mr. Enigmatic (been waiting a while to work that word back into a post) to their young studs?

Hey if all else fails there is always the KHL.

This trade just keeps lookin better and better. Especially now that Backman is a memory.

Speaking of the KHL I was thinkin about the Zubov situation after yesterday's announcement and how it was reported that the Jackets never talked to his agent.

That just didn't make any sense to me considering our desperate need for an experienced right handed puck moving power play defensemen.

Then it struck me like a Jarred Boll right hander... who says they needed to talk to his agent? Remember Hitch used to coach the Stars.... surely he's got connections all over the place within that org. A phone call to a player here... a text to a coach there... and perhaps they found out all they needed to know about Zubov and didn't need to talk to his agent.

Remember the NHL is one big club. You just have to get the proper invite to join it... right Balsillie?

Wes Goldstein of takes a look at the Central Division:

The Jackets were overwhelmed in their first-ever playoff appearance last April, but just getting there was a big step in the right direction. More important though, was signing Rick Nash to an eight-year extension a few weeks ago. Nash wasted no time becoming a franchise player after being drafted first overall in 2002, and he remains the cornerstone of the Jackets' long-term building plan. Getting him to commit was critical.

Meanwhile, GM Scott Howson still has some holes to fill on the blue line and at forward, but he continued the process of steadily upgrading the team he took over two years ago by adding veterans Sami Pahlsson and Mathieu Garon this summer. Pahlsson, one of the league's best defensive centers, makes it three deep down the middle for the Jackets. The team picked up Antoine Vermette at the trade deadline and will get back second-year center Derick Brassard, a Rookie of the Year contender when he went down for the season in January. The award eventually went to the Jackets' Steve Mason, the 20-year-old goalie sensation, who will be backed up by someone who understands the role in Garon. Grade: B+

Be sure to follow the link to vote on who had the best offseason in the Central.


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Pahlsson interview

Just caught this on Jackets TV so thought I'd share for those that may not have seen it yet either:


Hamrlik deal complete fabrication..

According to Aaron Portzline:

-- I've gotten a few emails from readers wondering if there's any truth to rumors that the Blue Jackets were pondering a trade of Rostislav Klesla and Fredrik Modin to Montreal for Roman Hamrlik. There is no truth, none whatsoever. No. 1 = The Blue Jackets wouldn't trade Klesla for Hamrlik straight up. No. 2 = Hamrlik is a left side, left shot defenseman. The Blue Jackets have too many of those already. No. 3 = Hamrlik is 35 years old and due to make $5.5 million this season and next.

Other than that, the rumor makes perfect sense.

-- Aaron Portzline

Scratch Zubov off the list

From TSN:

After a 16-year NHL career, Sergei Zubov is heading home as the 39-year old blueliner has signed with SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL.

He probably didn't get the offers he had hoped for from NHL teams so he opted to play back home in the KHL.

Good luck to him as he was one hell of a puck mover in his prime.

So mark Zubov off the list of potentials... whose next?


Howson interview and more!

Howson was interviewed by Leafs Lunch yesterday. You can listen here. Skraut also has a great transcript of the interview here.

Here are a couple of questions and answers that caught my attention:

LL: And that's obviously the reason you had to do what you did. I look at your center ice, tell me who do you think the coach is going to use there with Brassard back and Umberger can play center there, and Peca, what's the gameplan, is Filatov going to be a consideration there? What can you tell me about what looks to be a very interesting center ice.

SH: Filatov won't play there, he's too young to do it and not comfortable there. He's strictly a winger for us at this point of his career. We're going to try Brassard with Nash and probably Huselius to start the year. Vermette will probably be our 2nd center with somebody like Umberger and Voracek or Filatov in there. And Pallsson will center the checking line. And then the 4th spot is wide open right now, we may end up moving a winger in like Derrick Dorsett, or Andrew Murray, or maybe Michael Blunden who we acquired from Chicago last year. These guys have never done it, so we may be in the market trying to sign a 4th line center, but I think we're going to give some of these guys an opportunity in camp anyways.

No surprise with Brass, Vermette and Pahlsson as centers but it does appear that Howson is leaving the door open to sign some 4th line help if he doesn't like what he sees in camp.

LL: And we've seen certainly some good young teams have success Pittsburgh and Chicago come to mind. Do you have enough depth on your Blue Line right now?

SH: Well that is the area we would like to improve we have 6 quality NHL defenseman (names them) But they're all similar, they're all defending defensemen. So we would like to add one more power play puck moving guy which aren't easy to find, but that's sort of what we're going to look for. But we may not do it before camp. We're going to be patient, we're going to maybe give some of our younger players a chance to get that 7th spot, and then we'll see as the season goes. I'm sure there's going to be opportunities to add to that mix as we move on.

There is that patience word again. Still can't see him going into the season without a move to bolster that blueline. I just think there are too many possibilities out there with teams either 1. up against the cap or 2. have too many dmen under contract.

Zubov close to signing with the KHL? If you believe this link then he is. To summarize in English (which I grabbed from HFBoards):

According to, former Dallas Stars defenseman and free agent Sergei Zubov is close to signing with SKA St. Petersburg.

Was just sent a reminder (thanks Ted) that Nikolai Zherdev's arbitration hearing will be set for tomorrow. Word is his camp wants 4.5 mil a season while the Rangers want closer to his qualifying offer range of 3.5ish.

Personally I think no matter the outcome the Rangers cut the cord walk away from the award and allow Zherdev to become an unrestricted free agent. It will be very interesting to see where he lands - you know some GMs will be tempted with that skill regardless of the lack of motivation that drives it.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Fan forum notes

The Jackets held a "fan forum" conference call last night with Mike Commodore (MC) and Marc Methot (MM) for season ticket holders only. Jeff Rimer was the host.

This is the first time I've heard of such an event so I said what the heck and dialed in.

To my surprise the event went off very well. It lasted an hour. The first few minutes were some introductions by Rimer followed by some questions from him. The majority however was spent taking questions from Jackets season ticket holders.

Both Commodore and Methot (who was pinch hitting for Jarred Boll who had to bail due to an emergency family issue) were fantastic. I think I could listen to Commodore talk all day -- dude just "gets it". I can see him easily sliding right into a TV analyst job once his playing days conclude.

Below are some notes (with lots of paraphrasing) that I quickly typed down as I was listening. The guys were having a good time and all of their comments were of the good natured light hearted variety.

Mike Commodore hung out in Columbus after the season for a little while. Visited his brother in Korea for a week who is a teacher out there. Went to the Memorial with his parents. Now at a beach (I think it was Venice) working out with a professional trainer (more on that later) getting ready for season. I missed Methot's into.

* MC - Time to take the next step and make the playoffs and win some games. That is why I signed in Columbus. I thought the team was close and it worked out this while.

* MC - Other than Marc Methot signing (joking - as Methot on the call) I would say the Rick Nash signing was the biggest move this offseason. A little worried after the first offer but then it got done in 2 days and was very excited.

* MM - looking forward to team success. Making the transition last season was a big help. Guys like MC really helped. Having that year of experience really makes a difference.

Q - Favorite players growing up?

MC - looked up to Cam Neely growing up. I really enjoyed watching him play.

MM - liked watching Ray Bourque. Although he never returned the card I sent him to get autographed when I was a kid (laughs).

Q - Keys to next year?

MC - young guys. Mentioned Brassard and his help on the PP. Voracek growing. Russell maturing into the player we all think he could be. Goes for all the young guys including Methot.

MM - guys like Jake and Brassard pull through and stay healthy. Relying on Russ to QB our PP. Keep everyone healthy like Mase.

Q - What did you learn from the playoffs that we can take into next year?

MC - big part of it was we ran into a monster in Detroit. We got it handed to us for the first 3 games before we came out of our shell. Not an excuse - but it took a lot of energy just to get into the playoffs. Once that was done we might have taken a breath then we were down 3-0. Hopefully next year if the team matures like I think it will then hopefully we get in without burning so much energy that will leave us more for the playoffs.

Q - Like Olympic hockey in the middle season?

MM - hockey level is phenomenal at the Olympics. I've always enjoyed watching and cheering on my country. Tough for guys who have to go over and play and then come back and step right back into season grind.

MC - I'm about 50/50... in a way I think it may be better if the amateur guys played. I did get into the last Olympics. As far as the break the guys goin over playing its not much of one obviously.. but the guys who aren't get a week off and then a week of practice to recover. I can't complain because the last Olympics we had I won the cup with Carolina.

Q - Did press make too much deal out of Crosby not immediately shaking hands?

MC - don't know Crosby at all.. never met him. He's supposed to be a pretty good and you'd think he wouldn't do that deliberately.

Q - How much do you like playing in Columbus MC?

MC - I really really enjoyed it last year. I had a couple of options going into free agency last year but it really wasn't really a tough decision when I decided on Columbus. Definitely think I made the right decision a year later looking back. Both on and off the ice. Off the ice I really like the area.

Q - How did MC feel about playing back in Carolina and getting a warm reception?

MC - Nothing but the utmost respect for the front office right on down the line for that organization. We got spanked the first time I played then after I traded to Ottawa. So was nice to win last year with the Jackets.. also got a goal which I still haven't let Cam Ward forget about (laughs).

Q - How does the re-signing of Rick Nash help now and in the future?

MM - He's the face of the franchise. All the guys have all the admiration in the world for him. Fortunate to have and am real happy about it.

MC - Best player so having him around is huge. Getting him signed now also avoids what could have turned into a huge distraction.

Q - How does it feel to live under the radar in Columbus versus a place like Toronto? Do you feel left out?

MM - Nash and Commodore are a little more noticeable than a guy like myself. I think we get just about the perfect amount of attention. Great coverage in the paper. We get a lot of support and publicity isn't an issue here.

MC - I've played Ottawa, Calgary and Carolina. Calgary and Ottawa can be a little overwhelming... it's great when things are going great but can get overwhelming when you're losing... Carolina is a lot like Columbus. I don't feel left out at all here... it's a great mix.

Q - Off the ice what do you guys do over the summer? Fish?

MM - Gone fishing once in a while but never get up earlier enough to catch anything (laughs).

MC - Not a fisherman... I've tried but couldn't catch anything... More of a golfer so go where that is at.

Q - Fantasy hockey first pick?

MC - Play golf/football/baseball.. but not hockey... I'd have to say Ovechkin.

MM - Ovechkin or Crosby...

Q - Do you prefer a tighter or loosely called playoff game?

MM - As a player you'd like it to be called fairly. If it's blatant call it. I like it when they put it away and skip the little stuff.

MC - Just be consistent... if you're going to call it one way then be consistent on both sides with it.

Q - Who has the lowest handicap on the team? Also what do you think of the Winter Classic?

MC - I believe it's Chimera... favorite places to play in Columbus -- Pinnacle... also like Double Eagle. Would love to play in a Winter Classic... that would be great experience.

Q - What kind of offseason training (besides golf)?

MC - Last year about after game 68 I found myself completely out of gas. Played more than I ever have. Did some research to improve that.. ended up out West to work out with Chelios trainer.. 3 hours a day of lifting.. it's been challenging and great... trying to get endurance up.. best shape I've ever been in at this point in the offseason.

MM - try to switch it up every summer. Weight training four days a week.... boxing... mixed martial arts.. lower body... some running.. a lot of variety in program really helps.

Q - How do you feel about schedule this year? Lots of division games at end of season.

MC - Good to play those games at the end of the season. Creates rivalries... makes it challenging.. intense games.

Q - Is Detroit for the first time in a long while going to lose the division title?

MC - Have to give them their do. They have been a great team. They can come back to the pack. They've been to the finals now two years in a row.. that can take a toll. They could certainly still win the division. I don't think it will be as easy for them as it's been the past few years.

MM - My buddies and I were just commenting on how we are playing in one of the best, if not the best, division in the entire league now.

Q - Is it hard to play when the crowd is going crazy like in game 4?

MM - Even my friends at home were blown away by that atmosphere on TV and have a new found respect for hockey in Columbus. I'm very proud to play here. We loved it!

MC - If I knew nothing about Columbus and hockey and saw that game 4... I would have never guessed that would be a game 4 of a near first round sweep.... it's a lot of fun to play when the fans are that excited. That crowd that game reminded me of crowds I've played in front of in cup finals.

Q - Pre-game rituals?

MM - 7 or 8 of us live downtown around arena. After practice we got to an Italian place in the area for a quick meal. Get a pre-game nap in.. then head back over the arena.. try to relax.. some guys have iPods, etc..

MC - Dubbie has all kinds of weird pre-game rituals... sits in his stall and make pouches out of hockey tape.. puts him in a zone. Widdles away like he's some kind of a wood worker. Great guy ...loved having him around... but little bit of a different bird.

Q - MC's can you talk about your days of playing in the AHL in Cincinnati?

MC - liked playing in Cinci. Great city to have fun in.. hockeywise on a personal level didn't work out as well as I had hoped... Gonna try to get down to a Reds game when I get back to Columbus.. they definitely could have used a new rink...

Q - What do you think of John Moore and his ability?

MC - to be honest I don't know much about him. After we drafted him called Tyler Wright to find out about him. Big believer for defensemen to get some good development time before ready to contribute at NHL level. Couple of years in Junior.. some time in the AHL and then really ready to make an impact at NHL level. Of course there are always exceptions.

Also a couple of polls were conducted during the call.

When asked to choose which team are you looking forward the most to seeing between Pittsburgh, Detroit, Buffalo and Chicago --- Pitt was the run-away favorite.

When asked which player were you most excited to see play between Brassard, Filatov and Pahlsson -- Brass was the run-away favorite.

It really was a well run event and nice perk for season ticket holders. I hope they do more of this type of thing.


Williams talks

It appears Williams might be a 1 year Red Wing, but it sounds like he's really tempted by what would be a generous KHL offer I am sure.. Personally I am somewhat disappointed Howsen hasn't offered him a contract, but considering our current roster jam it's easy to see why..

Furthermore you have to love the Columbus love, it says a lot about our franchise.

Former Columbus forward Jason Williams is part of a group of talented players still on the free agent market who would be a nice boost for teams looking to add scoring depth. Williams, who scored 19 goals last season for the Thrashers and Blue Jackets, is also a very useful player on the power play. The addition of Williams in mid-season helped get Columbus into the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.

I caught Jason on his celll for a few minutes today before he hit the golf course. He has a one-year offer to return to the Detroit Red Wings where he started his NHL career but is also weighing the option of playing in the KHL.

"I'm not going to close the door on that," Williams told "I know over there they're really trying to compete with the NHL. It's a great league."

Williams still has a home in the Detroit area, one he bought right before he was traded to the Blackhawks. He's renting it out now, and only lived in it for about six months before he left Detroit. The Red Wings would be a natural fit for Williams.

"I'd be going back to a spot I'm familiar with," Williams said. "I know the system they like to play - puck possession, good defense."

He said he loved his time in Columbus, and would like to return to the Blue Jackets but hasn't gotten an offer from GM Scott Howson. Even so, he had great things to say about his 39-game stint with the Blue Jackets.

"The guys are great, the organization is really turned around," he said. "Everything was first class there."

Stat of the day - breaking down Pahlsson

Let's break down Sammy Pahlsson shall we.

First the vitals:

AGE: 31
HEIGHT: 6'0"
BIRTHDATE: Dec 17, 1977
BIRTHPLACE: Ornskol, Sweden

Okay.. now some stats. The first number is his total from last season while the second in () is where he would have ranked on the Jackets last season:

GOALS: 7 (14)
ASSISTS: 11 (17)
POINTS: 18 (17)
PIM: 34 (16)
+/-: -17 (31)

POWER PLAY POINTS: 1 (tied 10)
SHOTS: 88 (13)

FACE OFF %: 53.5 (3)

HITS: 121 (6)
GIVE AWAYS: 26 (tied 5)
TAKE AWAYS: 25 (tied 9)

HOME POINTS: 9 (tied 16)
AWAY POINTS: 9 (tied 16)

EVEN STRENGTH TOI: 856:30 (10)
SHORT HANDED TOI: 272:06 (3)

Stats never tell the whole story but here are some thoughts on some numbers that caught my eye:

* 121 hits tells me Pahlsson isn't afraid to take the body and would have ranked 6th on the Jackets. For a comparision -- Manny Malhotra had 74 hits last season.

* Only 34 penalty minutes is excellent. Especially considering he plays against the other teams top lines in key situations. It tells me Pahlsson is an extremely disciplined player and can keep up in a clutch and grabless game.

* That -17 certainly catches my attention. I realize he goes against the top lines but that number should be much better and I expect it to be under Hitch next season.

* No surprise that he would have led all Jackets in penalty kill time last season with a whopping average of over 4 mins a game. Expect to see this guy out in all shorthanded and game saving situations. Hitch will ride this horse like Harry Potter rides the Hogwarts Express.

* If points are any indication Pahlsson brings the same game be at home or on the road.

* I know Pahlsson's primary role is shutdown center but I'd certainly like to see more offensive output.

* I thought he'd have more than 21 blocked shots with all of that PK time.

* Don't expect much offense out of Sammy while shorthanded. In fact he didn't register any shorthanded points last season. If he's on the kill with Nash that could change quckly as the Monster had 5 shorties last year (it could have been many many more if he converted on half of those breakaways).

* Needs to also work on those give aways.. but very pleased with his take aways. Interesting to note that Nash led the Jackets with a whopping 70 take aways -- Huselius was next with 49. Both also led in give-aways with Juice w/ 35 and Nash with 34.

* Don't expect any fisticuffs with Pahlsson -- I couldn't find one listing on that involved him.

All n'all these stats paint the picture of what we've all heard about. Pahlsson is a prototypical shutdown centerman who isn't going to give you a lot offensively but will certainly help you win games with this defensive acumen and ability to play key minutes against the opposition's top lines.


10 Years Ago... The Battle Concludes

We are fast approaching the ten year anniversary a hugely important legal battle that concluded with Mr. Mac holding control of what was to become the CBJ. Famous sports owner Lamar Hunt, the challenger, began the process of bringing a team to the city as the face of Columbus hockey but ended it as an ardent adversary of a McConnell-lead ownership group.

On August 31, 1999, an Ohio Appeals Court affirmed a lower court decision stipulating that Mr. McConnell had not violated any obligations to a previous ownership group (with Hunt) when he decided to form a separate, competing group of owners. Upon this decision (found as McConnell v. Hunt Sports Enterprises, 132 Ohio App.3d 657, 725 N.E.2d 1193), the path was officially cleared for a McConnell-owned professional hockey team in Columbus.

Setting The Scene:

In early 1996, Commissioner Gary Bettman and the NHL determined that it would accept applications for new professional hockey franchises. Contrary to what many think, in April of '96 the NHL actually approached Mayor Greg Lashutka to gauge Columbus' interest in brining a hockey franchise to the city. Mayor Lashutka asked several community leaders who had been involved in exploring professional sports in Columbus to pursue the idea. Two of those addressed were Mr. John McConnell and Mr. Ron Pizzuti.

In an effort to recruit investors, Pizzuti approached Lamar Hunt (with his Columbus ties as opperating owner of the Crew) and Wolfe Enterprises. This group, named CHL, saw each investor put forward an initial $25,000. On November 1, 1996, the group filed a formal applicaiton and submitted the $100,000 application fee to the NHL.

Included in the application was a plan to get around the facility problems in Columbus. With no arena sufficient for NHL play, the application included a proposal that such a facility would be built from public money via a 3 year, 1/2% sales tax. On May 6, 1997 the sales tax failed.

The next day, Mayor Lashutka met with Hunt, and spoke with Commissoner Bettman regarding whether the city could come up with an alternate plan for an arena. Later in the day, Nationwide CEO Dimon McPherson asked to meet with Hunt to discuss building the arena privately. In court McPherson stated that he chose Hunt because "he was the visible, obvious, only person that was involved in trying to bring NHL hockey to Columbus. There was really no one else to turn to."

On May 28, 1997 Nationwide presented Hunt with a plan to finance an arena. On the 29th, Hunt rejected the proposal, stating that the team would lose millions from the plan.

Into The Void Comes Mr. Mac:

On May 30, McPherson placed a fatefull call to Mr. McConnell, requesting that they meet to talk about "where [they] were on the arena." McPherson stated that he "could see that the situation . . . was slipping away, and [he] didn't want that to happen." McConnell later testified that the call came "totally out of the blue. [McPherson] said that Nationwide was going to finance and build an arena, and that he had offered the Hunt group the opportunity to pick up the lease and bring a franchise in. That was news to me. It was out of the blue." McConnell told McPherson that if Hunt would not step up and lease the arena, McConnell would.

On June 3 or 4, 1997, in his first converstaion with the NHL, Mr. McConnell orally agreed to apply for a hockey franchise in Columbus. Later on the 4th, Bettman told the NHL franchise expansion committee that Nationwide would develop and lease a privately funded arena, and that Mr. McConnell was willing to move forward in bringing a franchise to the city alone. The expansion committee recommended Columbus to the NHL board of governors.

The Conflict:

On June 5, 1997, the NHL sent Hunt a note informing him that he had until June 9 to move forward with his application for a franchise. Early on June 9, a meeting between the original CHL group met at Mr. Pizzuti's office. At the meeting, Brian Ellis, the president and COO of Nationwide, presnted the arena lease terms to those present. Hunt indicated that the terms were unacceptable. Pizzuti and Wolfe agreed to go along with McConnell in accepting the terms of the lease. Later in the day, a representative of JMAC, Inc. (McConnell's personal investment company) informed Ellis that McConnell would accept the term sheet without Hunt. Still later, McConnell (as marjority owner), Pizzuti, and Wolfe signed the terms and stipulated that up to seven other members could join the group at a later date.

On June 17, 1997, Hunt sued McConnell for breach of contract and for breach of fiduciary duties owed to the initial ownership group, CHL. He stipulated that McConnell improperly established a competing ownership group in violation with the obligations he owed to the initial organization.

On October 31, 1997 the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of McConnell. The decision was based on the CHL operating agreement's language, particularly Section 3.3, which stated that:

"Members May Compete. Members shall not in any way be prohibited from or restricted in engaging or owning an interest in any other business venture of any nature, including any venture which might be competitive with the business of the Company."

On September 2, 1998 the trial court granted McConnell and Wolfe Enterprises $920,244 plus interest for attorney's fees.

On August 31, 1999, the court of appeals affirmed the trial court’s decision. McConnell no longer faced legal challenge to his ownership, and the franchise no longer faced barriers to its existence.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

**PROGRAMMING ALERT** Game 2 of Jackets / Wings tonight on NHL Network!

First I thought this graphic of Nash with Toews as one of the banners at the top of the NHL Network page was pretty cool:

Second here is tonight's schedule for the CBJ/Detroit game 2:

Thanks to June for the heads up and as she pointed out Game 3 will be on tomorrow night and Game 4 will be on Thursday.

As a side note I watched the first half of Game 1 last night (couldn't bring myself to watch the 3rd period) and damn, if the Jackets couldn't have been up by at least a couple of goals. Somehow Osgood went from Nogood to Realgood.

One has to wonder what that series could have been like if the Jackets were able to steal that first game. Onwards and upwards.


Somethin brewin?

Just to piggyback on Eplagge's post below -- here is some more speculation from

Just got a tip that the Stralman-Primeau swap is the tip of the iceberg to something larger happening in Toronto. Being told to keep an eye on the Blue Jackets – Brassard and Klesla are two names that have been bandied about in the rumour mill.

There has been a lot of talk surrounding Columbus, Vancouver and St. Louis during the past week. The *suspicion* is that today’s Stralman trade was a necessary move to facilitate another, larger move with one of the three aforementioned teams.

Speculate away, folks. Things are getting real interesting, real fast. Updates will come as I receive them.

Not sure how legit this source is (and hey, it's a low news week) but one thing I can definitely tell you just from common sense is that Derick Brassard ain't goin anywhere!

Klesla, while I'd love for him to stick around for another year to see if he can replicate that playoff performance for a full season, I could see being on the table for the right return. Again the Jackets need that puck mover and have too many defensemen that play the same type of game with Russell being the exception.

Then you say to yourself.. wait a sec.... Toronto is trying to unload another defensemen so why take one back? Doesn't make much sense.

Toronto and the Jackets do make some sense in terms of what they are trying to deal. Toronto needs offense while the Jackets need offense for their defense. I'm just not sure the assets line up to meet both teams needs.

Kaberle is the juicy target and it would take a Brassard type player to land him which, again, Howson isn't going to part with. He wants to build around that young core not subtract from it.

...and how long have we been searching for a #1 center? Think Howson would trade away our best chance to fill that gap? Again, ain't happenin.

Van Ryn is a guy the Jackets may be willing to take a chance on and perhaps Bruke may be interested in a guy like Chimera in return.... Van Ryn comes with a lot of injury question marks however as he only played in 47 games the past two seasons. He is a right hand shot and can be a useful player on the PP. From forecaster:

ASSETS: Moves the puck well up the ice, has a good point shot and is always willing to dish out punishment.
FLAWS: Needs to become more assertive on offense, since he has the talent to produce big numbers.
CAREER POTENTIAL: Top four defenseman.

His contract is also attractive as he's only signed for 1 more year at 3.35 mil.

I suspect we'll continue to hear more and more speculation as it's no secret what the Jackets need and I'm sure Howson is keeping the lines of communication wide open to see if something falls in his lap.

Stay tuned.


Toronto still looking to move a D-man.

In all honesty, there really doesn't seem to be a Howsen-esque/Hitchcock-ian player available, although Burke would probably like a player like Chimera. Are there any players on Toronto's roster who look of interest to you ?? ( I highly doubt Howsen will cough up the assets for a Kaberle deal)

Burke wrote Monday night that he is still looking to move another defenceman, or at least listening to offers, though last week he said he'd be "shocked" if Tomas Kaberle - the player who could likely bring the most in return - wasn't in Toronto's opening night roster.

"(It's) still crowded back there," he said. The Leafs have nine defencemen who will arrive at camp with realistic expectations of being on the NHL roster.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Stat of the day

According to this site, Columbus has given out 40 contracts. Those include 1-way, 2-way and EL (entrly level) contracts. The NHL per club limit is 50.

I didn't see it officially announced but it does appear from and that Dan LaCosta was re-signed to a 1 year 2-way deal.

I had also forgotten that Howson still needs to get Alex Picard signed to a 2-way deal.


As patient as a turtle

An interseting line via the Dispatch about Scott "the turtle" Howson's pursuit of a puck moving defensemen:

The Blue Jackets, according to Howson, are poised to start the season with the six defensemen they have on the roster -- the same six as last season. Howson believes that Blue Jackets minor-leaguers Mathieu Roy, Grant Clitsome and Nick Holden are viable candidates to fill the No. 7 spot, or he could wait to claim a veteran player off waivers in late September.

The Jackets certainly could go into the season with their current group but I just don't see that happening. They need another puck mover on D to assist in taking that next step. Howson knows it, Hitch knows it.. heck, everyone knows it.

At the same time I agree completely with Howson's position on this.

Howson's position of strength is that he doesn't have to make a move -- unlike some of the cap strapped teams out there. He has a full team that he can take into the regular season "as is" and fully expect them to contend for a playoff position.

Would he like to upgrade? Of course. He's admitted as much publicly on multiple occasions.

No reason to force a deal however. Deals that are forced GM's typically regret.

Despite this posturing I fully expect some kind of deal to be made between now and camp. Howson has shown he isn't shy about making a deal if it is the right deal.

No interest in Zubov? From the same article in the Dispatch:

Despite the obvious connection to coach Ken Hitchcock, the Jackets have not had talks with free-agent defenseman Sergei Zubov.

For a team that desperately needs a right handed power play defensemen to at least not have talked with Zubov is very surprising.. at least to me.

Couple of thoughts come to mind:

1. They want no part of a veteran defensemen who has only played parts of the past two seasons.

2. They have zero budget flexibility remaining to add any more unrestricted free agents.

Number 1 I could understand as they are more privy to Zubov's injury status than we are. However number 2 could be solved with a little creativity similar to what Boston did to make room for Derrick Morris.

Good news for former hockey Buckeye Rod Pelley:

The Sports Xchange reports Devils C Rod Pelley is excited general manager Lou Lamoriello has endorsed him as John Madden's successor as the team's checking center. "To come out public like that, there's a lot of confidence," Pelley said. "You're basically telling the player, 'You better be ready. This is your opportunity. It's in your hands now.' That's basically how I interpret that. That's what I'll be ready in September for."

We are definitely into the dog days of the hockey offseason. I expect some slow news days over the next few weeks... as slow as.....well, a turtle.


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Zubov still out there

I speculated yesterday that perhaps the Bruins move to trade Aaron Ward was to free up cap space to land Sergei Zubov.

Well I was on the right track but had the wrong name. According to TSN the Boston Bruins have signed Derek Morris to a 1 year 3.3 million dollar deal.

Don't get me wrong - Morris would have looked good in union blue but that deal is too rich for the Jackets blood.

This signing certainly spells the end to Kessel's run in the beantown.

Why is this important to CBJ fans? Well Zubov is still hangin out there. Howson would have to get creative and find a way to move a winger in a separate deal if they signed him. Difficult? Sure... but certainly not mission impossible.

We wait.


Friday, July 24, 2009

Definitive Guide to Creating a Trade Proposal that includes the Columbus Blue Jackets

This CBJ trade flow chart is making it's rounds over on HF. For a great laugh (and a whole lot of truth) check it out here.

(I would just post it but it doesn't come out clear enough on blogger to read)

Great stuff Skraut!!

Also check out this article from a blogger titled "The NHL Needs More Rick Nash":

Why isn’t the NHL marketing the hell out of Rich Nash? It’s a simple question—but I’m still looking for a simple answer. In a world where stars play such a huge role in selling their respective sports, why is a guy like Nash still relatively unknown in the United States? While I have to hunt and search for reasons against promoting the talented power forward, there are plenty more reasons to publicize the man.

As for reasons why he ISN’T being marketed, I have one word for you: Columbus. I don’t think the people on Madison Avenue (or the people in the NHL offices on Avenue of the Americas) could find Columbus, OH if they had a Tom-Tom, MapQuest and a Rand McNally. They think its some city where Christopher lived and sports media executives think every square inch of the city is filled by a giant horseshoe.

The only other reason that I can think of for him not being promoted is that he’s not on the Pittsburgh Penguins. Lately, the American media doesn’t even acknowledge players if they don’t play FOR the Penguins (Crosby, Malkin) or are RIVALS of the Penguins (Ovechkin, Red Wings, Flyers etc.). At least the Canadian media can focus on 6 other teams!

Ahh.. you just know "he plays in Columbus" would quickly creep into that piece.

As much as it stings, there is definitely some truth to what this blogger says.

Personality, philanthropy, regular season accolades are one thing... and are very much recognized and appreciated on a lot of levels. However Rick Nash (and the Jackets for that matter) will get more attention once he leads this team deep into the playoffs. At that point the NHL will have no choice but to showcase him and the team.

As Ken Hitchcock has said numerous times - franchises make their marks in the playoffs.

Could this deal have Zubov implications? The Bruins sent defensemen Aaron Ward to Carolina for Patrick Eaves and a 4th round pick.

The deal saves the B's about 1.1 mil on the cap. They have been rumored to be in the mix for Segei Zubov. Could that 1.1 million in savings be anough to land the puck moving Russian? Keep in mind they also have to sign restricted free agent Phil Kessel (or trade him).

Just under 50 days until camp opens!


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Feel the burn 6-1's John Kreiser says that Rick Nash is on the "hot seat" this year for the Columbus Blue Jackets:

Rick Nash, Columbus -- Nash's all-round play has improved markedly since Ken Hitchcock's arrival as coach in 2007. He's much more defensively responsible and has shown he can be used in all situations. But on an offensively challenged team, Nash's biggest function remains putting the puck in the net -- and the Jackets will need him to better last season's production of 40 goals and 79 points if they hope to take another step forward after making the playoffs for the first time.

Make no mistake about it -- Rick Nash is the undisputed leader of this team and for better or worse he will be directly judged by its success.

The good news is that this is old news to Rick Nash and his performance last year showed he is up to this challenge.

I expect a 80-90 point season out of Nasher but more importantly is for Nash continue to grow as a leader and to lead this Jackets squad to it's second straight appearance in the post season.

I think this coming season we can finally put to bed comments like these from Paul Kukla (who runs

* Now that Rick Nash has committed to the Columbus Blue Jackets, the management team needs to find him a No. 1 center.

Derick Brassard will be that guy. Bank it.

Nice interview here from AOL's fan house with Steve Mason:

Do you ever pay attention to hockey blogs or message boards and get an idea of what people are talking about, or do you just try to avoid all of that?

I try to stay away from it, and I think any athlete would be better off doing that. People are allowed to have their opinions, good or bad, but I think it's just best to stay away from it and focus on the task at hand, and for myself that's just getting better every year. Moving forward you can't really worry about what people are thinking or saying about you.

Well hell.... I just got Mased!!

(He's completely right though.. I wouldn't read my crap or others if I were him either!)

Thanks to BHG for sending that one in.

Sammy (with a 'Y' and not 'I') Pahlsson get's some love from's top 10 underrated signings this offseason:

4. Samuel Pahlsson, Columbus -- Speaking of Pahlsson, the Blue Jackets did the smart thing by gobbling him up to be their third-line center behind Antoine Vermette and Derick Brassard. Pahlsson's presence will allow Vermette to play a more offensive role, ideally between Rick Nash and Kristian Huselius. Pahlsson gives the Jackets more depth at center than they had last season and a reliable two-way guy to play against the opposition's top line.

Certainly seems like a match made in Hitch-heaven. Wonder if he's memorized the Hitch-ionary yet?

Out of all the Jackets unrestricted free agents -- a list that includes Williams, Malhotra, Peca, Gratton, MacDonald, York, Backman, Dubliewicz and Rome -- only two in Rome and Dubie have been signed by another NHL team.

Makes one think Howson has a pretty good read on the value of players on his roster when the majority of the guys that walked are still out on the market close to a month after free agency opened.

I do expect Williams and Malhotra to eventually find homes. Peca probably will as well.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Z - From Broadway to Oil Country

As you all know - like it's a big shock - contract negotiations with Nikolai Zherdev have gone past the point of arbitration - anyone second-guessing that trade, last summer? Anyone? Buhler? - and it's being rumored that Z may be a target of the Oil (Edm. Oilers):

Now, the CBJ's and the Broadway Blueshirts former problem will now possibly be the Oil's problem, particularly if they cannot land Heater, which is pretty unlikely, at this point.

Carry the Flag! Jason Lives!

Utah.. make it two!

So much for that poll question!

Puck-rakers just announced that Marc Methot has avoided arbitration and has signed a 2 year deal worth $975,000 in 2009-10 and $1.05M in 2010-11.

Not bad for a 6th round pick in the 2003 draft. I wonder if the "mouthpieces" will start calling Methot a gem like they do Detroit's Eriksson? I mean afterall Eriksson was a 9th round pick in the 2002 draft and scored a whopping 1g, 3a in 19 games last season. Methot on the other hand registered 4g, 13a in 66 games.

I digress.

As far as the contract, that is certainly a little more than I would have guessed but nothing crazy for the role and position he plays. It's certainly a nice raise over the $522,500 he made last year. I'm sure both parties gave/took and are quite content with avoiding the actual arbitration hearing - those things are never fun.

With Methot in the fold that brings the Jackets roster to 21 sure fire NHL bodies (with potentially 1 open spot on that 4th line to fill at camp).

Nash Brassard Huselius
Umberger Vermette Voracek
Modin Pahlsson Torres
4th line: Boll, Dorsett, Filatov, Chimera, Murray

Commodore Hejda
Tyutin Klesla
Russell Methot


By my math (which always leaves something to be desired) these 21 players bring the Jackets payroll to 48.141 million which would leave 1.859 million assuming an estimated payroll of 50 million.

I know this is a broken record but keep in mind this is a budget not a cap market and that extra 1.8 million could be used to payout bonuses and injury callups and not necessarily used to add another body.... which is why it has been stated over and over again that a body must go to clear budget space to add another d-man.

That said, I fully expect Howson to find a way to move a winger for some type of d-man before camp starts.

Congrats to Marc for getting his 1 way 2 year contract. He adds some nice depth and size to the lineup and should improve off of what was essentially his "rookie" campaign in the NHL last season.

Here is Forecaster's take on Methot:

ASSETS: Has outstanding size and defensive acumen. Plays a sound, stay-at-home game and rarely makes mistakes in his own end. Displays leadership qualities.
FLAWS: Lacks the offensive ability to put up points on a consistent basis in the NHL. Needs to use his large frame more to intimidate the opposition.
CAREER POTENTIAL: Stabilizing defenseman.

Here's a parting question for ya? I know obtaining a offensive d-man is the new #1 priority but at what point does Howson start talking new contracts with Vermette and Klesla? My guess is that he'll wait to see how both perform in-season before firing those conversations up.


This and that

Interested where some former hockey Buckeye's are plying their trade these days? Well thanks to the heads up from BHG we get a look at some courtesy of the Buckeye's web site:

Four Buckeyes saw considerable ice time in the NHL. Former All-American R.J. Umberger became the first former Buckeye to join the Columbus Blue Jackets and helped lead the local team to its first Stanley Cup playoff appearance with 26 goals and 20 assists. In the postseason, Umberger had a team-high three goals, including the first playoff goal in franchise history. Dave Steckel contributed 19 points during the regular season for the Washington Capitals in their race to the playoffs. Steckel played exceptionally well during the postseason, with his best game coming on the road in Game Six against the eventual Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins, when Steckel won 73 percent of his faceoffs and scored the game-winning goal in overtime. As an alternate captain for the Vancouver Canucks, Ryan Kesler finished the regular season third on the team with 59 points. In the postseason, Kesler had two goals and two assists in the Canucks’ run and he was a Top 3 finalist for the NHL’s Selke Trophy given to the best defensive player in the league. Tyson Strachan made his NHL debut for the St. Louis Blues in December and posted a plus-eight rating during his 30 games with the team. Also logging NHL ice time were Sean Collins with the Capitals and Nate Guenin with the Philadelphia Flyers.

Johann Kroll, who also played 28 games in the AHL, won the ECHL’s Kelly Cup title with the South Carolina Stingrays. Collins ended the year with the American Hockey League champion Hershey Bears.

Andrew Schembri led Miesbach TEV in Germany in scoring with his 32 goals and 72 points. Jean-Francois Dufour also led his French team, Briancon, in scoring with 58 points.

Steckle really was unbelievable in the post season run for the caps. He's a guy I really enjoy watching find success at the NHL level.

Kind of strange that they didn't mention Tom Fritsche who played 48 games for the Lake Erie Monsters of the AHL and notched 10g, 10a for 20 points.

Or Rod Pelley, who has also seen some time in the NHL, who played 75 games for the AHL's Lowell Devils notching 15g 23a for 38 points last year. I wouldn't be surprised to see him get some more big league time next season with the NJ.

Outdoor games are certainly en vogue. Check this out:

The schedule for next May’s 2010 I.I.H.F. World Championship was unveiled on Tuesday, starting with the tournament opener in Gelsenkirchen between the U.S. and host Germany at the 76,000-seat Veltins-Arena — a game that may set a world attendance record for hockey.

The schedule appears on the I.I.H.F. web site. After the May 7 opener, Canada inaugurates its participation on May 8 vs. Italy at Adler Mannheim’s 13,600-seat SAP Arena. Two-time defending champion Russia begins on May 9 vs. Slovakia at Cologne’s 18,500-seat Lanxess Arena, the largest hockey-specific venue in Europe.

The guy who I would love the Jackets to land in RFA defensemen Denis Grebeshkov has re-signed with the Oil for 1 year @ 3.15 million.

That signing brings the Oil up to 55.5 mil with Ladislav Smid still left to be re-signed. Something will have to give in Edmonton especially if they want to add some more offense.

I certainly wouldn't rule out a trade with Howson and his former team as Edmonton will certainly look to unload a defensemen. The question is what do the Jackets have to give back offensively? Not a whole lot.

I think the NHL does a really good job with their fans but nothing can top the least from what I've seen. I went to the game this past Saturday as part of a Jacket Backer event and the way the players show respect to their fans -- especially the Nordecke -- is incredible.

The topper for me was at the end of the game how just about every Crew player went over to that section and gave them a standing 'O'. Most of them even took their jerseys off their backs and gave them to individual fans. Franky Hejduk didn't leave the field until he slapped every last hand he could.

It's definitely one of my favorite aspects about soccer games.

As a CBJ die hard I just can't help but wonder what it would be like to have our own fan section? It could only really work in the lower bowl. Unfortunately the economics of the game wouldn't allow it -- the fact of the matter is that lower bowl tickets are just too damn expensive to be able to put something like that together. Still a fan can dream can't he? I mean how cool could that be?

I'm a little surprised at the current poll results. I thought there may be a little more hesitation towards the potential signing of Zubov. That clearly isn't the case as most of you out there would support signing him to a 1 year incentive laden deal.

I'll have a new one up in a bit asking for your thoughts on what you think Marc Methot will be awarded in arbitration.

Great interview with John Moore here from the Click here to hear it.

Finally if you're interested in a great local charity event the inaugural Ryan Salmons Foundation Memorial Golf Outing is this Friday. Visit Puck-rakers for all of the details.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Methot Arbitration


What's going on, fellow CBJ fans?! I am a new contributor to this site, and am excited to be a part of the LTL family (although I can't begin compete with our fearless LTL leader or even our famous, Jason-masked, fellow fan).

I will be contributing thoughts and ideas relating to the business and legal side of hockey and the Jackets. Having studied law at OSU (and at Oxford this winter... I will need all of your help to stay in the loop when I can't stay up until 3am to watch the start of the game on the internet), I hope I can answer some of the questions pertaining to the cap, the lease, the KHL, and anything else that comes up this season and beyond. While I am by no means an expert on all things sports law, I think I can offer a foundation on the "business" and “legalese” of the game and the team.

So enough of me. Without further adieu:

Salary Arbitration:

By now you have all read about the looming arbitration hearing for Marc Methot. There may be some questions about what this process actually entails, how it comes about, and what happens before, during and after the hearing.

Arbitration is simply a dispute resolution tool used by the NHL and the NHLPA to avoid the challenges involved in a drawn out court battle. Rather than going through the normal trial process, the NHL and NHLPA have essentially agreed to use an independent arbiter to create a binding settlement based on the arguments of the player and the team.

Under the most recent Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NHLPA and the NHL, players are eligible for arbitration after four years in the league (before the lockout, it was three years). RFA’s meeting this experience requirement are the most players likely to choose the arbitration process, as they have the least bargaining power. While UFA’s can simply test their value on the open market, RFA’s are constricted in their options and thus frequently use the threat of arbitration to secure a better deal.

In addition, teams also can elect to bring a player to salary arbitration in specific instances. For example, a team can take a RFA who made over $1.5million in the prior year to arbitration rather than giving him a qualifying offer. Nevertheless, it is much more common for the player than for the team to elect for arbitration.

Once either the team or the player elects for arbitration, it is still not a given that they will attend a hearing. Rather, it is much more common that the threat of arbitration will bring each side to the table to hammer out a deal. Both sides do not generally enjoy the process, as it requires the team to argue against a player’s abilities and to describe their weaknesses. Thus, the player often uses the threat of arbitration as a negotiation tool rather than an actual device for a pay raise.

During the hearing (should it actually make it this far), each side presents their evidence. Evidence includes statistical proof of performance (goals, assists, minutes played, etc.), injury history, comparably salaried similar players, and even evidence of special leadership qualities. Evidence like that about a team’s financial stability or salary cap implications are not admissible.

A judgment by the arbitrator is not completely discretionary. For example, the arbitrator cannot award a player less than 85% of his previous year salary.

Upon hearing the arbitrator’s decision, the team has 48 hours to accept or decline the decision. If the team chooses to walk away from the award, the player becomes a UFA and is free to sign with any team.

What this means for Marc Methot:

According to various sources, Marc Methot made around $500,000 last year. This figure, in comparison to his production last season (4g, 13a, 17p, +7, over 17 minutes per game), clearly means that he will not have to worry about a decrease in salary.

If Methot actually makes it to an arbitration hearing because no deal can be worked out before he walks in the door, then it all comes down to the evidence presented. In a quick look for comparable players, I would estimate that Methot is awarded somewhere between $750,000-$950,000 per year. Unless something abnormal happens and based on that number (an additional cap hit this season of no more than $450,000), I would rest assured that Marc Methot will be back with the CBJ next year…

Unless we can get a puck-mover.

Extra! Extra!

Interesting in how the media landscape is changing in terms of professional sports coverage?

The Sports Business Journal has an excellent piece that details this subject in great depth.

Some highlights:

* Four of the papers surveyed stopped traveling with NHL teams entirely and four others skipped some road trips.

* Three papers skipped some road trips with NBA teams. One stopped traveling entirely.

* Four papers — all of them midsized or suburban dailies — stopped staffing MLB teams. Three others stopped traveling.

* Two papers plan to stop covering nearby NFL teams this season. Two others will eliminate NFL travel.

* The travel-intensive touring beats — motorsports and golf — have gone the way of the blacksmith at most papers

This section specifically covers two NHL teams:

The Nashville Predators already felt they were getting short-sheeted in a market that has neither an NBA nor MLB team when the only paper in the town, The Tennessean, stopped sending its beat writer on the road with them for the final two months of last season.

“Even when they were traveling, the amount of space they gave the beat writer was ridiculous,” said Gerry Helper, senior vice president of communications and development for the Predators. “We need more coverage. More attention. If we don’t feel we’re reaching a broad enough audience, or even reaching our core fans (through the local newspaper), we have to find other ways.”

For the Kings, the other way came in the form of the “Royal Road Report,” a Web site feature that runs when the team plays away from home. Starting midway through last season, the team hired freelance writers to attend practices and morning skates, interview players and coaches, cover games and file stories.

When Gauthier was suspended, there was coverage of the announcement that day and a follow-up the next day when the team was in Ottawa.

When the Kings are on the road, the team site offers exponentially more content than either the Times or the Los Angeles Daily News. Now that he’s seen what they can do with editorial content, Altieri said he is warming to the idea of hiring a newspaper pro to cover the team both at home and on the road.

They looked into doing it three years ago, but decided against it, mostly because of the expense. The salary of a seasoned professional likely would approach $100,000 in Los Angeles, a difficult expense when he can’t demonstrate that it will lead to more revenue, particularly at a time when the team’s on-ice performance has been shoddy.

If traditional coverage continues to wane and the team improves, it may be worth the money, Altieri said. The debate then will be whether the front office is prepared to occasionally find criticism on its own site. Without it, fans probably won’t view it as credible, and they won’t come back.

This part talks about how the Preds have opened up to bloggers:

The Preds haven’t gone as far as the Kings in providing coverage, instead trying to build relationships with bloggers, credentialing a couple in Nashville for games and trading e-mails with some who opine on hockey from a national perspective.

Opening the press box to bloggers has become common practice now that the traditional media corps no longer fills its allotted spaces. Teams also are looking more to niche outlets, such as those that serve the Spanish-speaking or Asian communities.

I will say to the Jackets credit they have been open to granting press credentials to bloggers especially over the last year. I haven't been one of them as I prefer to be down with the fans with a jersey on and a cold beer in my hand rootin the boys on but I have spoke with 3 or 4 other bloggers who certainly have taken the Jackets up on the opportunity.

To be honest while I appreciate the Jackets openness to bloggers we really are a lucky fanbase in terms of the coverage we are provided from the Columbus Dispatch.

We have two excellent dedicated writers who provide coverage that in my opinion is unmatched south of the border. They are there for every road game, they blog, they chat, they twitter and they podcast.

That doesn't even count the columns we get from guys like Arace and Hunter or all the pull out specials from season previews, draft previews and who can forget all that playoff coverage?!?

Sure the Dispatch owns 10% of the team but so what? It's a nice competitve advantage that the team has in a non-traditional hockey market. Enjoy it. Exploit it.

Now that's not to say there isn't room for improvement with some of the local television news outlets or 97.1 The Fan (who I actually think has improved quite a bit in the past year - especially the mid-day show).

Should a day come where the Dispatch has to pull the reigns back (and let's hope that day never comes) then I could see the Jackets need to take some aggressive steps to increase their coverage via other avenues.

While I think bloggers certainly have their place in this market - especially for topics like the arena lease issue and general support discussion/opinion - we are in very good hands with the Dispatch as our primary source for Jackets news and notes.

To quote a little Cinderella... we don't want to know what it's like when that coverage is gone. Show your support for these guys by buying a paper once in a while.. click their hockey links.. listen to the podcasts... read the blog... email the editor ( to let them know you appreciate all of their coverage.

...and no I'm not on the payroll (although I did get on a bit of a roll).

Read much more from that article here.

Fire away - how do you feel about the local coverage that is provided for the Jackets?


Monday, July 20, 2009

Jackets on the rise

Just a quick hit tonight but I thought this was pretty cool from which lists the top 10 teams on the rise:

4. Columbus Blue Jackets -- Rick Nash is on board with a new eight-year contract extension and all indications are they have long-term stability in net with Steve Mason. Derick Brassard, Jakub Voracek, Nikita Filatov and Kris Russell make up the young core, and Nash, Kristian Huselius, R.J. Umberger, Fedor Tyutin, Rostislav Klesla and Mike Commodore provide veteran leadership. The addition of Sami Pahlsson boosts the Jackets' playoff experience.

Damn right!

Unfortuantely Chicago is #1 on their list with St. Louis at #3.

Nash weighs in on NHLPA's desire for NHLers to skip Olympic on-ice orientation camp sessions due to lack of insurance coverage:

On Friday, the NHLPA sent a letter to players and copied Hockey Canada and other national hockey federations outlining its concerns that players could be at risk due to lack of insurance. The NHLPA doesn't believe the federations are providing enough insurance to cover players' current contracts and potential future earning power in the event of an injury as NHL teams are not responsible for insuring their players at Olympic events.

"I think we need the ice, I think we need to practice," said Columbus Blue Jackets forward Rick Nash, an Olympian in 2006.

Joe Thorton also weighed with the following:

"I've skated for years and have never been hurt, so I'll be skating," said Thornton, who played for Canada at the 2006 Olympics.


Foote Phased Out?

Well, I guess our "favorite" former CBJ captain, Benedict Foote, may be seeing his master plan, err, simple misunderstanding between he and Scott Howson in contract negotiations, start to crumble.

Hey Benedict, I guess you made the better move, after all - I mean, that Avs' plan to go retro really was the better scenario than to stay with, uh, A PLAYOFF TEAM!!!

One can only hope you're discarded to the curb - it's what you deserve, scumbag!

Might wanna fake that triceps injury when you avoid, err, are scheduled to return to play against that PLAYOFF TEAM...

Arena lease update? Beuhler??

From marketwatch:

Worthington Industries reported Wednesday a fiscal fourth-quarter loss as a steep drop in steel sales, inventory writedowns and restructuring costs carved into the bottom line.

For the three months ended May 31, Worthington /quotes/comstock/13*!wor/quotes/nls/wor (WOR 13.63, +0.60, +4.57%) said it lost $13.7 million, or 17 cents a share. The company had net earnings of $53.9 million, or 68 cents a share, a year ago.

Revenue for the quarter fell 46% to $471.6 million, the result of a sharply lower demand for processed steel, the Columbus, Ohio, company's core business. The crisis in the automotive industry, which included the bankruptcies of General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC, was a major factor behind slumping steel demand.

Much of the loss, the equivalent of 15 cents a share, was tied to a $6.3 million pre-tax inventory writedown and $6 million in restructuring charges.

Excluding these and other one-time items, the company posted a loss of 2 cents a share, less than the 3-cent a share loss analysts surveyed by FactSet Research had predicted, prompting shares to rally nearly 7% to $12.86 at the open.

I have to wonder what impact these kind of losses can have on the hockey team, which of course is propped up by Worthington Industries.

It's been extremely quiet on the arena lease issue since the initial news broke a few weeks ago. Once the "sin-tax" proposal was shelved I couldn't help but think that another "sin".... gambling.... could be the white knight that rides in and saves the day.

Then news of the following broke recently:

Ted Strickland will authorize racetrack slots by executive order and lawmakers will provide him legal protection under a stalemate-ending budget compromise struck Friday.

The order is the linchpin of a compromise with Senate Republicans, who have in turn agreed to include language in the $54 billion, two-year state budget that clarifies the state gambling law allows the lottery to include slots-like video lottery terminals.

I know this is primarily being used to balance the budget but my first thought was if the Jackets could get any piece of this to assist with their arena lease issue? Certainly doesn't look that way at the moment.

Something has to be stewing though.

Have the Jackets gotten any traction with the local politicians?

Is plan B in the works behind the scenes?

Is this just the calm before storm before the Jackets drop the re-locate hammer?

Or is this a calculated move to keep this topic buried for a bit after all the bad press that was generated earlier this offseason?

It's been a great past couple of weeks for the hockey department with the long term extension of 61 and also with the pickups of Pahlsson and Garon. That certainly stopped the bad PR bleeding.

Although this issue may be out of the hearts/minds of fans and politicians for the moment you can bet it will start generating headlines again - hopefully of the positive variety. I would like nothing better than to focus on red lines and blue lines rather than bottom lines.

Remember to keep on your county commissioners Jacket fans (contact info on right side of page) to make sure this issue doesn't sit on the backburner for long.

Of course if I get any updated information I'll certainly pass that info along.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Get to know Fedor Tyutin

Was just sent this link (thanks Rob) about a new Fedor Tyutin article up on A great read. Check it out here.

I hope that CBJ sweater grows on him quick because I know he's grown on quite a few members of the fanbase!


Even more Zubov

CNNSI's Allen Muir chimes in on the Zubov "mystery":

No one questions Zubov's talent. The question is whether he can utilize it. Surgery on a sports hernia and a hip limited the defender, who turns 39 next week, to 56 games over the past two seasons with the Dallas Stars; just 10 of them in 2008-09. He last played on November 28, and while doctors have said he'll be ready to go for the upcoming season, they have in the past erred on the side of optimism with Zubov.

Still, in a league where Claude Lemieux found gainful employment after four years spent cashing pension checks, you know there are going to be some tire-kickers. Considering what Zubov might bring to the table, there should be 30 of them, but his agent, Jay Grossman, says nine teams have expressed interest. The Bruins (cap issues be damned), Rangers, Devils, Blue Jackets (where former coach Ken Hitchcock could really use Zubov's help on the PP) and Blues are thought to be among them. But none have yet been willing to pull the trigger.

I'm sure he'd love to stay in Dallas but should that not work out (which is the way it's lookin) and even if it takes pliers to pry my off my homer hat, I just can't help but think Columbus would be a perfect destination fo Zubov.

Unfortunately as it's been hashed and re-hashed at lot has to fall in place to make it work.

* Zubov would have to want to come to Columbus
* Zubov would have to take a reduced incentive laden deal
* Howson would have to find a way to clear out a veteran winger and that salary

It makes so much sense that it probably won't happen.

Check out this nugget from that same article:

Interest in Alex Tanguay is starting to build. The Panthers, who've lost Richard Zednik and Ville Peltonen, need a top-six body up front and were rumored to have signed the winger yesterday. Those rumors were denied late in the day by a team official. Whispers suggest the Predators and Blue Jackets also are sniffing around the speedy winger, despite his coming off a career-low 41-point campaign. He could be snapped up as soon as this weekend . . .

Apparently somebody forgot to look at our traffic jam of wingers. No chance.

Good read here from Lindsay Kramer about next year's crunch team. Check out this little nugget:

Syracuse will be hard-pressed to win any game in which the opponent scores more than a couple of goals. After MacKenzie and Pelletier, who is the go-to guy? Pic? Maybe, but as soon as he, or anyone, gets hot, you know he's going up. Mayorov is still inconsistent, and I'm hearing bad things about Legein's outlook on possibly playing with the Crunch.

Lots of speculation in that line but absolutely nothing would surprise me about Legein. If that kid thinks he's got a free ride to the NHL after the stunt he pulled last summer he's got another thing comin. He's lucky to even have a roster spot in the AHL.

He can't be that ignorant.... can he?