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.