directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: 08/01/2009 - 09/01/2009

Countdown to Rick Nash's contract expiration:

Monday, August 31, 2009

Columbus and Sryacuse to swap rosters next year?

Blog-rakers has just reported some breaking news!!

In a shocking announcement at his most recent press conference, Scott Howson announced that Columbus and Syracuse would swap rosters for the upcoming season.

Howson, citing the claims of several outraged Syracuse Fans both online and on the streets as his reason for the swap.

"For far too long, I left Syracuse drifting in the wind without quality players. What better way to give Syracuse a competitive squad than to give them a team that made the NHL playoffs last season? I think fans of departed Dan Smith will quickly forget when he is replaced by Jan Hejda."

Outraged reactions have struck Columbus after Howson's announcement, but the General Manager has simply said, "This is a matter of fairness. I will not budge in this decision. Something has to be done after Syracuse missed the playoffs ONE season in a row. Giving them a roster filled by guys such as Rick Nash, Steve Mason, and Derick Brassard will reverse this terrible, terrible trend for sure."

Get this and more from Matt-lund over at blog-rakers!

..and don't forget to read Crunch fans reactions to this announcement over at Lindsey Kramer's blog which can be found here.



The NHLPA never ceases to amaze me.

It's been 4 seasons since the NHL and it's union (NHLPA) did the un-thinkable and cancelled an entire season which ultimately broke the NHL's player union and gave the NHL its desired cap linked to revenues. With the recent report that the union has fired current Executive Director Paul Kelly it has now gone through two additional Executive Director's since that time.

If you recall, at the time of the lockout it was the confrontational Bob Goodenow who was in charge. Ted Saskin took over for him after the players got ancy for their paychecks and Goodenow was pushed aside -- Saskin went on to negotiate the Collective Bargaining Agreement in which the league currently operates under. After allegations that Saskin read confidential player emails he was ousted and Paul Kelly replaced him.

I'm no expert on unions and am certainly no lawyer so I can only speak to this as an interested fan who closely followed the lockout of 2004... but to quote the great Herb Brooks... this looks like a monkey (explicative) a football right about now.

Some of you are probably saying... this is great and all LTL... but why should we as fans care about what a bunch of overpaid athletes and union executives do within their own union? Just play the damn games and let me watch 61 rip up the league the next 9 years.

Unfortunately that is the problem.

Word from the media is that the union would like to hire a more confrontational leader (i.e. Goodenow-clone) and that Paul Kelly played "too nice" with the NHL.

That means more head butting and less working together. That means the probability of another NHL lockout just sky-rocketed. Especially if the union decides to hire this Buzz Hardgrove character who is the former head of the Canadian Auto Workers.

I read this quote from a Canadian poster on the Globe & Mail and thought it summed up the Buzz situation pretty good:

"Ten years of Buzz and the biggest hockey market in the world will almost certainly be in Europe..."

To me Paul Kelly seemed like a pretty good hire. A guy who recognized the importance of working together with the NHL and picking the right fights. Unfortunately there seem to be way too many personal agendas involved in the NHLPA to ever make that kind of relationship work for the long term.

Now it appears we are headed back to the antiquated fight for every inch of turf philosophy that dominated the Goodenow years and rarely produced anything of significant value for the game or it's markets.

More should come out as to why Kelley was fired and perhaps there are some legit reasons. I can't for the life of me think player's salaries would be a reason. I mean the cap has grown every year but this one (and even this year it went up a tick). Maybe he's the fall guy for the rotten economy and the fact there are a few NHLers (ahem.. Malhotra) still out of work at this stage of the offseason.

It took a while but the league recovered from what many thought was an unrecoverable situation after that cancelled season. More competitive teams, the emergence of Crosby and Ovechkin and rule changes helped fuel the recovery.

With this recent announcement there is a lot of uncertainly but there is one thing I am certain of -- if these clowns are dumb enough to steer this league into another lockout, I think fans are going to jump ship faster than Adam Foote could hop on a jet out of Columbus.

...and this time I don't think there will be a lot of second chances.


Sunday, August 30, 2009

Jackets get organ-ized!

The Dispatch ran an article today that had some quotes from Howson on Filatov and a little info about Commodore throwing out the first pitch at a Red's game next week. Hands down the line that stood out to me the most was the following:

The Jackets have purchased an organ and it will be played during breaks in action this season. Jacket officials said the move is in response to feedback from fans.

Can I get a hell yeah?!!

First it's great to hear game ops responding to fan's feedback. Secondly a real organ (i.e. not a cheap casio ripoff) at Nationwide has been needed for quite some time and I think it will really add to the atmosphere at the arena.

This is great news and I hope just one step towards a revamped game ops experience at Nationwide this season. One that I hope includes more focus on the reason we are there -- the game.

That means more replays, less gimmicks and music that energizes everybody including those players on the bench.

Check out this video off of youtube regading the Blackhawk's classic organ:

Can't wait to hear this sucker live!!


Friday, August 28, 2009

Quick hits

Just a couple of quick hits that were just passed onto me from Mike (R Bar):

* The R Bar should have their new kitchen opened up by mid-September.

* The good folks over at Nationwide Arena started installing the ice at 6 a.m. this morning!

There goes my popcorn only post game diet!



The Vancouver Canucks have added a lot of depth to their blueline in a short period of time. The team has acquired defencemen Christian Ehrhoff and Brad Lukowich from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for defenceman Daniel Rahimi and forward Patrick White. Vancouver also announced on Friday that they have inked veteran defenceman Mathieu Schneider to a contract

White and Rahimi are not even ranked in the Canucks top 10 prospects, most talent evaluation sites rank them between 15-25 on the Nucks depth chart. White is widely considered to be failure but the Ottawa Senators allegedly have always had a soft spot for White. This is of course fueling the Heatley rumors, but Dreger recently posted on his Twitter that the SJ/OTT talks are very cold. Personally I am shocked that this is the best salary dump deal Wilson could get, I guess Chimera wasn't as appealing.. Vancouver raped SJ in this trade...

Now with the abundance of NHL Defense men on Vancouvers roster the rumors are hot.. Howsen go get me some Bieksa...


Nash, Umberger & Shelley to ride the Pelotonia

There is an absolutely terrific event happening in the Columbus community this weekend. It's called the Pelotonia.

Here is their Mission from the Pelotonia's web site:

Pelotonia is a grass roots bike tour with one goal: to end cancer. Pelotonia raises money for innovative and life saving cancer research at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center- James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute. Driven by the passion of its cyclists and volunteers, and their family and friends, Pelotonia's annual cycling experience will be a place of hope, energy and determination. Leveraging Netjets' transformational gift, Pelotonia directs 100% of every dollar raised to research. It is a community of people coming together to chase down cancer and defeat it.

For anyone who has had cancer strike their friends or family they know how devastating it can it. Events like this bring awareness and raise funds to battle this deadly disease.

Two Blue Jackets and one former one are riding for this cause and I would encourage anyone out there who believes in it and can afford to donate a few dollars to get behind them or any other rider that you may know:

To donate to Rick Nash's ride click here.

To donate to RJ Umberger's ride click here.

To donate to former Jacket (and current Shark) Jody Shelley's ride click here.

The event kicks off today and runs through this Sunday. You can find all of the details at the event's official web site located here.

My hat is off to all the participants and organizers of such a wonderful event.

My thanks to BHG for passing this information along.


Quote of the day


“He is just more comfortable in his surroundings. He’s now used to the stress and pressure of being a Canadian hockey player.”—Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock on left winger Rick Nash handling the atmosphere at Team Canada’s orientation camp.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Watch Rick Nash & Team Canada scrimmage live now!

Apparently we can watch the Team Canada white/red scrimmage live right now by following this link.

So far I can only get audio. If anyone else has any luck out there let me know.

This makes me that think that if Canada can stream a friggan Olympic camp scrimmage game live there is absolutely no reason the Jackets should be able to stream preseason games live on there site as well.

Make it happen Jackets!


It's alive!!

The Jackets new web site has officially launched:

Looks great!! Be sure to check out here.

Thanks to Dru for the heads up!


Stat of the day

The Jackets had the 4th most home wins in the Western Conference last season with 25.

Only San Jose (32), Detroit (27) and Calgary (27) won more games in their own building.

Combined the Jackets were tied (Pittsburgh) with the 9th most wins at home in the entire NHL.

Nationwide was a tough place to play last year. Not sure about the rest of ya but I'm up for the sequel!


Random thoughts - Carry The Slogan

* Looks like the Jackets are sticking with the slogan "Carry The Flag" for another year. Hey look at is this way -- times are tight and if it came down between spending half a mil to come up with a new marketing campaign or investing that money into a player to help the team what would you choose?

* Anybody out there get their season tickets yet? They should be coming any day now.

* How cool is it to see Nash on Crosby's wing on what should be the go-to line for Team Canada at this year's Olympics. I'll always root for the stars and stripes first and foremost but if they go down it will be pretty easy to slide on over to Canada's bandwagon.

* So far no news is good news on the injury front. Remember right around this time last season we were hearing about Jared Boll breaking his hand in some offseason shinny.

* A reminder to any game ops folks that may read this blog -- more replays and less gimmicks!!

* From a selfish point of view probably the best thing about Nash and Mase being at Olympic camp is that they are getting a jump start on training camp. There shouldn't be much rust in their games from the first moment they hit the Dispatch Ice Haus ice.

* I wonder if Hitch has filed away any powerplay tips from Babcock during this camp? Unfortunately that may require sticking a Nik Lidstrom in his carry on.

* I have absolutely no excuse for myself but today I finally filled a major gap in my sports DVD library when I picked up Slapshot for $4.99 at Best Buy. It's the clearest sign yet that hockey season is right around the corner.

Long live Reggie Dunlap!!

Just over 15 days until camp!


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Blog ranks Jackets fanbase 21 out of 30 NHL teams

A pretty good read here from a blog called "The State of Hockey News" that ranks NHL fanbases from 1 to 30.

Here is what they had to say about the Jackets:

#21 - Columbus Blue Jackets - 12.7

Pct. of Capacity in 2008-09: 85.6% (15,543, 25th in the NHL) Online Presence: 4.7

Last Year's rank: 24th

Justification: For Blue Jackets fans, this ranking might surprise them. Afterall it was season the team finally got rid of the dubious phrase, "the only team that has never made the post-season." In that way, the fans in Columbus had lots to cheer about but it was short-lived as their team was swept out of the playoffs without too much trouble by Central Division rival Detroit Red Wings. With the Blue Jackets having their most successful season in franchise history I have say I was shocked that they only managed to fill their building just over 85% most nights. Sure, there were many years of the team losing that steadily eroded the amount of fans showing up at Nationwide Arena, and I would not be surprised to see attendance greatly improved next season. Online, Blue Jackets fans must have had a wonderful (albeit short) ride to the post-season and their fanbase there remains steady as the team has a number of message boards and blogs.

Certainly hard to argue with his arguments and I think the ranking is fair. I was also surprised that the building didn't fill up more down the stretch as the Jackets were playing the most important games in their history.

One thing I will say in the Jackets defense is that the practice of comping tickets came to an end once Priest took over from MacLean. So what you see in the attedance reports is what you get unlike a lot of NHL cities who are comping seats by the thousands.

I really like his ranking of Colorado at 26. I can't believe how fast that bandwagon jumped ship... espeically since Foote re-joined the team (snicker).

Hopefully we'll see attendance continue to rise this season as the team continues to find success on the ice.


Is Filatov a flight risk?

Puck-daddy posted a great interview with Jackets blue chipper Nikita Filatov yesterday.

You can check out the entire interview here but there were a couple of Q&As that certainly got my attention and no doubt the brass down on Nationwide Blvd as well:

Evaluate your chances in Columbus. Will you get into the first team in the coming season?

I don't even want to think about a different outcome. I have been working very hard this summer. Nothing should stand in the way of me getting into the NHL. Ideally, I have to break into the second line where there is more ice time; you play more on special teams.

Were you called to the KHL this offseason?

I was called this summer and during last season. I am not going to name teams...

And I bet you were offered more money.

A lot more. Times more.

What is holding you in America?

When I was 18 I made a decision to play in the NHL. This decision did not come easy. But what is the point of backing off now? It would make more sense if I didn't play well. But everything is going good for me right now across the ocean.

Speaking the language of finance, your stock should go up before you sell it. When you start playing like Ovechkin you will make $9-$10 million per season.

I am not even thinking about the money. I am just 19! Everything will depend on my game. If I end up in the farm team or on the bench, it would be one thing. Then you can start thinking about the KHL. Simply because I [would not be] playing hockey. But right now my aspiration is that I must break into the NHL and play the entire season there. Also the moral side of the question is important. I don't want to lie to Columbus who I have a valid contract with. Everyone treats me really well. I hope I will play for that team

I love this kid's candor and honesty but statements like....

"If I end up in the farm team or on the bench, it would be one thing. Then you can start thinking about the KHL. Simply because I [would not be] playing hockey."

..make me nervous.

I don't think he intends it but it's easy for one to interpret that line as if they don't play me I'll bolt. Not exactly the kind of message, intended or not, you want to be sending before NHL camp opens.

Filatov is a smart kid though. He saw how the organizations two other elite prospects in Brassard and Voracek were brought along early in their first full time NHL seasons and how once they gained the coaches trust their minutes and roles both increased.

To expect to be treated much differently than those two right out of the gate would be a mis-calculation on his part.

The good thing is he'll have those two to lean on when he does get frustrated with a lack of minutes (because those games are going to happen) and hopefully they can help keep him upbeat because if this kid is what everyone thinks he is, it's only a matter of time....

Now he could come in and leave a blazing trail of fire in his wake and force himself into those prime time playing minutes......

.....that would be fantastic but you have to earn it and you have to be prepared to take your rookie lumps along the way.

Nothing is given and I have no doubt Filatov knows this.

He needs to trust his coaches and believe in them. They will do what is best for his development.

As I stated before I questioned Hitch quite a bit early on last season with the lack of playing time for Brassard and Voracek and outside of injury those two both went onto have very respectable rookie campaigns.

I was clearly wrong and Hitch clearly knows what he's doing.

So back to the question - is Filatov a flight risk? Anytime you draft a Russian that risk is there but I think his dream to play and excel in the NHL is to grand and to close to turn back now for the riches of the KHL.

At the end of the day though it's all up to Nikita Filatov. I'm one fan who wants nothing more to see him have success right where he belongs - in union blue.


Our favorite little CBJ fan has a message for the Jackets

For anybody out there that has kids who love the Jackets... I think you'll enjoy this parody of Kristen Chenoweth's "Taylor the Latte Boy" by Jared Boll's biggest little fan - Coryn:

"Oh Jared.... punch a Red Wing and make him cry"... hands down my favorite part.

...and be it intended or not, I'm taking your "light the lamp" reference as a personal shout out to this site.

Great job Coryn!


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Minnesota Wild new 3rd jersey

Somebody leaked a pic of the Wild's new 3rd jersey:

Not a big fan of the script logo but it's a clean look. My first thought though was it reminded me of the West All Star jersey's from the 03-04 season:

..and guess where that 03-04 All Star game was played? Why in Minnesota of course.... Aaahh those clever wild things!

Makes one wonder when the Jackets may see a new 3rd jersey? We know they decided against it this year to continue to build their brand around the current flag/star logo. Gonna be hard to turn down the revenue a new 3rd would generate much longer -- my guess is we'll see something next season.

Just please no Stinger.


Pic of the day

Iginla - Crosby - Nash --- oh my!

Also some must reads on Nash and Mase at Canadian Olympic Camp can be found here and here.

...and yet another must read over on THN titled "Nash set to explode into superstar status".

Great to see the boys in blue getting some nice publicity in August.

Tip of the hat to HFBoard's Dru and Hashmarks for the assists.


Monday, August 24, 2009

Blue Jackets - The Final Word

Just surfing around YouTube and ran across this tube asking "Why advertise with the Jackets?"...

I know many folks out there aren't really interested in the business side of this sport but for me I'm fascinated with both the business and hockey sides. In that regard I thought this was a good piece that I hadn't seen before and figured some of you out there may find it as interesting as I did.

Anyhow, the more corporate partners the better for the stability of the franchise.


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Ready..... Set......... Ходить!!

Here are a couple of pictures of Nikita Filatov training over in Moscow:

Apparently Filatov is training with Kovalchuk and none other than Nik Zherdev (yikes!). You can view more pics following this link.

Personally my favorite part of these pics is the Jackets hat Filatov is sporting. Wonder if he grabbed it after his hatty?

Thanks to Juneemoon over on HF for the heads up on the pics, info and link!

..oh and Ходить = "go" in Russian... I think....


Revisting the playoff clincher

That Nash goal reaction at the R get's me everytime!


White men still can't jump....

...but they sure as hell can skate!

The Canadian Olympic camp kicks off this week and thanks to Rob, we now know both Rick Nash and Steve Mason will be on team "white":

Team White


Martin Brodeur, Montreal, Que., New Jersey Devils
Marc-André Fleury, Sorel, Que., Pittsburgh Penguins
Steve Mason, Oakville, Ont., Columbus Blue Jackets


François Beauchemin, Sorel, Que., Toronto Maple Leafs
Jay Bouwmeester, Edmonton, Alta., Calgary Flames
Brent Burns, Ajax, Ont., Minnesota Wild
Mike Green, Calgary, Alta., Washington Capitals
Duncan Keith, Penticton, B.C., Chicago Blackhawks
Scott Niedermayer, Cranbrook, B.C., Anaheim Ducks
Marc Staal, Thunder Bay, Ont., New York Rangers
Shea Weber, Sicamous, B.C., Nashville Predators


Sidney Crosby, Cole Harbour, N.S., Pittsburgh Penguins
Shane Doan, Halkirk, Alta., Phoenix Coyotes
Simon Gagné, Ste-Foy, Que., Philadelphia Flyers
Dany Heatley, Calgary, Alta., Ottawa Senators
Jarome Iginla, St. Albert, Alta., Calgary Flames
Andy McDonald, Strathroy, Ont., St. Louis Blues
Brenden Morrow, Carlyle, Sask., Dallas Stars
Rick Nash, Brampton, Ont., Columbus Blue Jackets
Mike Richards, Kenora, Ont., Philadelphia Flyers
Martin St. Louis, Laval, Que., Tampa Bay Lightning
Jordan Staal, Thunder Bay, Ont., Pittsburgh Penguins
Jonathan Toews, Winnipeg, Man., Chicago Blackhawks

Not sure what the line combos are but the tasty thought of Nash riding shotgun next to Crosby did cross my mind.... and with Ryan Getzlaf, who was Nash's previous center at the World Championships, being on team red perhaps that thought crossed the cock's minds (i.e. Backcock and Hitchcock) as well.

Full team breakdowns can be found here.

It's been very quiet on the arena lease issue of late... almost scary quiet and Halloween is still a couple of months away.

Yesterday the Dispatch did report that the Jackets have commissioned a study to help them get "back in black":

The Columbus Chamber is commissioning a study of how to make the Blue Jackets economically viable after the team failed to get Franklin County to buy Nationwide Arena.

"What the Chamber wants to do is create a broader community discussion," said Ty Marsh, the chamber's president and CEO.

The study will be conducted by Steven Buser, a professor emeritus of finance at Ohio State. It won't specifically focus on who should own and operate Nationwide Arena, or whether a "sin tax" on alcohol and cigarettes should be involved, as the team had proposed.

With the economy showing signs of recovery I expect the proverbial sh** to really hit the fan on this issue as early as next offseason.

Ownership is sending strong signals that they cannot continue to rack up these kinds of losses and won't stand idly by and watch it continue. I am by no means piped into the behind the scenes day to day happenings to address this issue but so far from my seat it doesn't appear that anyone out there is listening.... yet.

Brief video of Nash and his thoughts on representing Canada at the Olympics over on

Less than 20 days til camp!


Friday, August 21, 2009

Hitler reacts to Nash re-signing

That made my night! Thanks Snappy!


What if?

This is a new category of posts I'll be starting and addressing every once in a while.

My first "what if?"

What if the Blue Jackets had completed the trade for Brad Richards?

Let's set the scene.

It was late in February 2008 and the Jackets for the first time in their existence were still in the playoff picture.

It was Scott Howson's first season as Blue Jackets GM.

It was also Ken Hitchcock's first full season as Blue Jackets Head Coach. As we were all aware, Ken Hitchcock had never missed the playoffs with a full season to work with in the NHL.

Fans were restless and had certainly grown tired off all the losing.

Sergei Fedorov was not the answer for Nash at center so the search to fill that void continued.

The March trade deadline was right around the corner. Would a couple of big contracts expiring in Adam Foote and Sergei Fedorov and the chance for the Jackets to remake their roster in the offseason make the them buyers or sellers?

Behind the scenes there were all kinds of rumblings that Tampa was ordered to slash payroll and that Richards was on the block. The Jackets were said to be right in the mix to finally fill that #1 center void and get a true playmaker for the franchise.

At the time of the trade discussions Brad Richards had 3 years left on his deal at 7.8 million per. He also had a no trade clause but word was that Columbus was one of the teams he would be willing to waive it for.

This was Howson's chance to make his splash and he made an aggressive pitch offering up Dan Fritsche, OK Tollefsen and Gilbert Brule. The biggest chip he was offering though was taking that mountain of a contract off of Tampa's hands and giving them budget relief.

The Jackets ultimately ended up losing out on this opportunity to the Dallas Stars who sent backup goalie Mike Smith, forwards Jussi Jokinen and Jeff Halpren plus a 5th round pick in exchange for Richards and starting Lightning goalie Johan Holmqvist.

The deal breaker for Howson was said to be that Tampa wanted Steve Mason included in any deal.

Opportunity lost right?

So back to the "what if". What if the Jackets beat out Tampa and included Mason and completed that deal? What are the dominoes?

On the positive side they would have certainly found Rick Nash his center. Perhaps the Jackets don't become sellers at the deadline and make a push for the playoffs and maybe squeak in and win a game or two. That would have most definitely been a positive PR push for a team and it's fans that had known nothing but losing up to that point.

Maybe last year they have an even better season? Maybe Richards stays healthy all year (he only played in 56 games for the Stars after suffering a broken right wrist and broken left hand). Perhaps while riding shotgun next to Richards Nash notches 50 goals? I certainly doubt the PP would have been 30th in the league.

..but knowing what we know now would that trade have been worth it? What are the potential negative dominoes if that trade is made?

First off the Jackets wouldn't have been in a position to draft Nikita Filatov as they would have finished with a better record than 6th worst in the league.

I believe they trade Fedorov regardless but I'm not sure if the Adam Foote scenario would have played out like it did. Maybe he signs and the Jackets don't get that #1 pick they use to trade for heart and soul player RJ Umberger.

Even if Fedorov and Foote stayed off the books the 7.8 million that Richards soaked up would most certainly mean that the Jackets only have the budget room to land one of Kristian Huselius or Mike Commodore.

Last but not least Steve Mason is not a Calder Trophy winner wearing the union blue. It also means Leclaire is still the starter and the Jackets likely don't have the ammunition to make the trade for Vermette.

Of course there are tons of variables to play with like instead of Filatov maybe the Jackets end up with Tyler Myers who is looking like he'll be a stud. We could play this game all day but I'll leave you with this -- which hypothetical lineup is more attractive:

Lineup A:
Nash (7.0) Richards (7.8) Voracek (.875)
Modin (3.5) Brassard (.765) Torres (2.75)
Chimera (1.875) Pahlsson (2.65) Boll (.550)
Dorsett (.510) Murray (.625) Picard (.550)
Spare (.600)

Commodore (3.8) Hejda (2.0)
Tyutin (2.7) Klesla (2.25)
Russell (.525) Methot (.975)

Leclaire (3.8)
Garon (1.2)

TOTAL: 47.3 million

Lineup B:
Huselius (4.75) Brassard (.765) Nash (7.0)
Umberger (3.5) Vermette (3.0) Voracek (.875)
Modin (3.5) Pahlsson (2.65) Torres (2.75)
Chimera (1.875) Dorsett (.510) Boll (.550)
Filatov (.875) Murray (.625)
*Filatov fits into the starting lineup somewhere just haven't figured out where yet

Commodore (3.8) Hejda (2.0)
Tyutin (2.7) Klesla (2.25)
Russell (.525) Methot (.975)

Mason (.850)
Garon (1.2)

TOTAL: 47.5 million

Combined Richards and Leclaire would make 11.6 million. That is a lot of dough to tie up in two players.

I'll gladly take my chances with B.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Interview with Jackets VP Marc Gregory

Be sure to check out this radio interview with Columbus Blue Jackets Vice President of Marketing Marc Gergory as he discusses the new marketing alliance with the Cleveland Indians.
Full podcast can be found here.

Is it me or does Toronto 590 seem to have more Jacket interviews than the local stations?

Big thanks to Snappy for the heads up!!

Puck Daddy has a full break down of how often every team in the NHL will air on Versus this season. The Blackhawks and Wings lead the pack with 9 a piece.

Interesting quote here also from yahoo:

D Marc Methot has gained 12 pounds this summer, putting him up to 235 pounds on a 6-foot-4 frame. After suffering from a bout with mononucleosis last summer, Methot has been healthy and strong. “I feel great,” he said after signing a two-year contract extension. “I felt like I had a good year (in 2008-09), but the best is yet to come. I’m excited for this coming season.” Methot set career highs in games (66), goals (four) and assists (13) last season.

Hitch has to love that news.

The Blue Jackets just announced that single season ticket games will go on sale Thursday, September 3rd.

Thanks to BHG for the heads up.


Stat of the day

Rick Nash's contract will expire in 3,237 days.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

National picture a little clearer for Jackets

Excluding the playoffs here was how much we saw the Columbus Blue Jackets on national television in the US last year:

Your probably sayin... LTL.... this time you've completely lost it. The Jackets had one appearance on Versus last season against the Blues.

At the start of last season that statement would have been correct... until the network ditched the game.

Well the good news is that this year the Jackets get two chances for Versus to ditch them:

Once on Tuesday December 1st @ Chicago.


Once on Monday December 28th vs. Detroit.

The better news is that these two games are part of the 7 games that won't be televised by FSN Ohio -- now we know why.

The Chicago game could be dumped similar to St. Louis but the Detroit game is an exclusive night for Versus and the probability of that game being dropped is low. It's also at home so Jacket fans need to represent at this one.

If everything plays out as scheduled 77 of the Jackets 82 games will get air time locally (if you have Center Ice you should get them all assuming they lift the blackouts).

Due to NBC's flex schedule the Jackets still have a shot to get on NBC with their game scheduled Saturday, Januray 16th at 2:00 PM EST against the Hawks.

The Jackets actually get more love north of the border as between RDS, RIS, TSN and TSN2 they will be aired 4 times.

Of course it could be worse as Carolina, Anaheim and Atlanta don't get any air time in the US. Phoenix, Florida, LA and Nashville will only make 1 appearance on Versus a piece. Of course the usual suspects in Pittsburgh, Detroit, NYR and Philly make multiple appearances.

Not the best but a step forward from last year.


Nash ad

I posted this on twitter yesterday but wanted to share here as well. It's Nash in an Under Armor ad featured in this year's The Hockey News Yearbook:

For those keeping score Nash was the only Jacket ranked in their top 50 NHL players. He came in at 38th.

As we know they predicted the Jackets to make the playoffs but also had them listed as one of their bubble teams in the west along with Dallas.

Portzline has a nice breakdown on the Jackets but nothing that we aren't aware of (i.e. strength on wings and defending defensemen... weakness on puck movers on the backend.. need step from kids and an encore performance from Mase).

The THN annual Yearbook is always a good read that I highly recommend picking up. It also comes in handy for those looking for a good reference for fantasy hockey!


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Jackets hit home run

The Jackets just released the following:

Columbus Blue Jackets, Cleveland Indians Announce Marketing Alliance

The Columbus Blue Jackets and Cleveland Indians have joined forces to form a marketing alliance to engage sports fans across Ohio with the opportunity to experience the excitement of the National Hockey League and Major League Baseball, the clubs announced August 18.

The basis of the partnership includes:

Shared advertising and hospitality elements
Special ticket offers to each team’s fan base
In-arena and stadium entertainment presence for select games at each team's venue
Media exposure across broadcast partner channels

All I have to say is F-I-N-A-L-L-Y some creativity.

Actually I shouldn't say that because last year's Giant Eagle promotion was an outstanding one that was creative and really helped put butts in seats in a horrific economy.

I love this partnership though. It makes a lot of sense.

Baseball and hockey seasons synergize so well together. There is hardly any overlap. With the Indian's AAA affiliate right next door it only makes sense for both organizations to promote one another.

I actually thought it was a no brainer for the Jackets and Clippers to join forces but to have their big club partner up is even better and increases the Jackets exposure in another major Ohio market -- something they have struggled to achieve throughout their existence.

For the Indians it's a great opportunity for them to solidify their foothold in the Columbus market and gain an competitve advantage over their direct competition in the south in the Cincinnati Reds.

Sounds like a win-win to me and it's nice to see professional sports franchises from different leagues actually work together instead of against one another.

Hell I just might have to become an Indians fan now.

...and don't be surprised if this isn't the first step towards the Jackets saying bye bye to Fox Sports Ohio and hello to Sports Time Ohio which is the sports network owned by the Indians.

I may be mistaken but I believe the Jackets TV contract with FSN Ohio expires either this year or the year after.

Well done Jackets and Indians!


Game time

It's getting close to that time when the new hockey games are released for the season.

Here are a couple of more links to both EA NHL 10 and NHL2K10.

EA NHL 10 video:

NHL2K story from IGN which explores in great depth this year's version of that title:

2K: You know, it's interesting, I think there's definitely that sort of aspect but at the same time we also felt like we were kind of going back to the roots to try to bring back some of the realistic, sim-style hockey. We wanted to make the game something that's definitely accessible to people -- something you can sit down and play with your buddies, but at the same time I think it also plays a really good game of hockey this year. We've done a ton of work just trying to make the game look better, play better, feel better. We've done a ton of animations to improve the skating engine, to improve the goalies, to improve stick-handling and to improve the controls in general.

So I think that all that together kind of makes a big difference and I think one of the biggest and probably one of my favorite things in regards to making it something you can play with your friends more easily is kind of the way we've broken down the online wall. In the past, you'd have to go dig for the Xbox Live or the online option to try to get online and play against your friends, and now basically every mode is online accessible right from the team select screen. So if I wanted to just jump in and play a quick game right from that team select screen I can just choose to find a random online opponent, or I can invite a friend, or I can just choose to play against the CPU. And I then that same thing applies to all the other modes in the game too, so like if I'm in Franchise playing through my season and I'm playing against the Sharks, and I know one of my buddies is a Sharks fan, I can just choose to invite him right from the team select screen and have him be my opponent in my Franchise. So you can really kind of mix things up that way and it really makes it a lot more accessible for you to play against people all around the country.

Thanks to BHG for the links!


Summer nights

Spector chimes in on roster issues for each team. Here are his comments on the Jackets:

Columbus Blue Jackets: Expectations are high for this club to not only return to the playoffs but to build upon last season's success. What could hamper them is the lack of a seasoned puck-moving defenseman or two. Fedor Tyutin is their best offensive blueliner but he could use some help to carry that load. They've got depth on both wings they could use as trade bait.

Puck-rakers has the schedule and roster for the Traverse City Tourney. Not a lot of sexy names this year with John Moore being the lone standout although Brent Regner and Matt Calvert are guys I'm very interested in seeing as well.

By my count 18 of the 26 players are undrafted camp invitees.

Last year the NHL Network picked up some games from this tourney so hopefully the Jackets get some air time this season too.

The Anaheim Ducks are offering a buy two tickets get two free campaign:

With Buy 2, Get 2 Free, get tickets for less than $15 per seat, per game!

As Kevin points out, it wasn't so long ago that the Orange County Register was ripping Columbus as a hockey market yet they are running specials like these.

Howson chimes in with some answers to some Jacket fans questions on Puck-rakers. This one stood out to me:

Q: A couple minor-league questions. What is Syracuse telling you about Max Mayorov's potential? Is he a probable top-six winger? We had a tendency in the early years to rush young players and arguably Jake Voracek, Derick Brassard and Kris Russell could have used a year or two in the minors. Now, I hear we've guaranteed a 170-pound Russian a spot next year. Aren't we continuing to rush young players out of budget/empty cupboard concerns?

A: As I tell the players, the players decide who is on the team. Not me and not Hitch. The players decide with their performance. I am not going to get in a debate about the players you mentioned but I will say that I do not believe we rushed any of them. Max Mayorov is a very good prospect that has a chance to be a top-six winger.

Not sure which team the individual who asked this question is watching but all of these players listed were afforded at least another year of development after their draft years.

Russell spent another year in junior.

Voracek spent another year in junior.

Brassard spent another year in junior and a year in Syracuse.

Filatov, who wasn't mentioned, spent a year in Syracuse.

The only player I personally think could have used more time to bake would be Russell but I will say in the organization's defense they had absolutely no player of his skill set and Hitch has done a good job of protecting him in the lineup.

Contrast that group to Maclean whom had 3 players in his 7 drafts - Nash, Zherdev and Brule - who made the jump straight to the NHL after their draft seasons with Nash being the lone unquestionable success. Klesla also played 10 games and then was sent packing.

I agree 100% with Howson in that the player's play will decide when they are ready. Not egos or force feeding prospects to the NHL. In some cases all a player needs is a crack in that window to show they are ready (Mason) and in some cases a lack of depth in a certain position provides that opportunity (Russell).

I can honestly say I have yet to see Howson rush any prospect to the pros. He had every opportunity to do that with Brassard, Voracek and Filatov but resisted.

What will be interesting for me to watch is when one of his high profile picks doesn't pan out. He's cut the cord quickly on a number of Maclean's guys -- Zherdev, Fritsche, Brule, Lindstrom, Leclaire and Pineault to name a few. The question is how quickly will he cut the cord on one of "his guys" because as much as I'd love for it to happen, he isn't going to hit on everyone.

A player to watch in this regard is Stefan Legein.

Fire away - how do you feel about prospect development since Howson took over?


Monday, August 17, 2009

Stat of the day

The only remaining Jacket from the powerhouse 2003 draft is 6th round pick Marc Methot.

Num. Round Player Pos Drafted From GP G A Pts PIM
4 1 Nikolai Zherdev R CSKA Moscow [Russia] 365 99 140 239 203
46 2 Dan Fritsche C Sarnia Sting [OHL] 256 34 42 76 103
71 3 Dmitry Kosmachev D CSKA Moscow [Russia]
103 4 Kevin Jarman F Stouffville Spirit [OPJHL]
104 4 Philippe Dupuis C Hull Olympiques [QMJHL] 8 0 0 0 4
138 5 Arsi Piispanen F Jokerit Jrs (Finland)
168 6 Marc Methot D London Knights [OHL] 95 4 17 21 75
200 7 Alexander Guskov D Yaroslavl Lokomotiv [Russia]
233 8 Mathieu Gravel R Shawinigan Cataractes [QMJHL]
283 9 Trevor Hendrikx D Peterborough Petes [OHL]


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Columbus forked over 650k to get Zherdev out of Russia

That is just one of the nuggets our good ole buddy Doug Maclean shared about Nikky Z on The Fan 590 out of Toronto today.

Some others:

* MacLean ordered his staff to take down a picture of Todd Marchant and throw it out during the lockout. If you recall Marchant was a PA mouthpiece and was running his mouth pretty good at the time.

* Zherdev is the most talented guy with the puck he's ever seen.

* Brought in Sergei Fedorov to help mentor Z. One month into it Fedorov told Maclean the kid wouldn't listen to a thing he had to say.

* Fedorov is the best Russian to ever play the game.

* Ken Holland (Wings GM) said you never sink alot of money into defending defensemen. You sink it into defensemen who can put up points. That was in response to Maclean being asked about Burke's makeover of the Leafs and the signings of Komisarek and Beauchemin.

* Says he should have put more weight into Z's response to a draft interview question in which Maclean and co. asked him what kind of car he drove. His response was a Mercedes. He was 17 at the time.

* Said the Z stuff help lead to him getting fired.

You can listen to the entire thing here.

I think there is a quite a bit of revisionist history (i.e. BS) in a lot of Maclean's comments but still an entertaining listen none the less.

Thanks to Lori Schmidt's twitter for the heads up on this interview. If you have twitter definitely follow Lori - she shares a lot of local sports info throughout the day including quite a bit of hockey.


25 and a wake up

26 days to go til camp and Jacket news is flowing about as fast as Hitch on skates.

Here are a few nuggets to share out there.

The Hockey News has both Dallas and Anaheim ranked 7th and 6th in their pre-season playoff predictions. tried their hand at the off season power rankings. The Jackets check in at 15 on Muir's list:

The return of Derrick Brassard and the addition of Sami Pahlsson provide depth down the middle like the Jackets have never had. Brassard has battled injuries in each of his first three seasons, so durability is a question. No one doubts his skill, though. Big and slick, he could break through as the legitimate first line center they need to maximize the impact of superstar Rick Nash (who signed an eight-year extension last month).

A fair assessment.

Puck Daddy over at has leaked the Canadian Olympic jersey:

Not bad. They will look even better with Nash and Mason on the backs.

The Hockey News also has some quick hitters on all 30 NHL teams. Their quick hit on the Jackets:

After Steve Mason’s big breakout and the Jackets finally making the playoffs, the challenge is to do it all over again.

The Jackets recently announced their TV schedule. Fox Sports will once again televise 75 of 82 games.

According to Puck-rakers these are the games that won't air:

Home: Oct. 13 vs. Calgary Flames; Dec. 28 vs. Detroit Red Wings; March 15 vs. Edmonton Oilers

Away: Dec. 1 vs. Chicago Blackhawks; Dec. 15 vs. Minnesota Wild; Jan. 5 vs. Vancouver Canucks; April 5 vs. St. Louis Blues.

As it's been done the past couple of seasons, hopefully the Center Ice blackout feeds are lifted -- at least for the away games. I also don't see a preseason game listed which stinks.

Like I said... it's slow out there.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Garon gets cup crazy and more..

An absolutely fantastic read sent in by Kory here about our new backup goalie Mathieu Garon with the Stanley Cup.

Love the Super Chexx bubble hockey game in the back ground. Nice touch!!

Ready for a good laugh? Well check out who made the Hockey News first and second All-Overlooked Free Agent team:

D - Christian Backman (Columbus) — Quietly efficient and ever improving, Backman is the kind of support player that every blueline needs.

Oh my.

Thanks to Jeff D. for the heads up on that one.

Anthony (a.k.a. whalerjacket) pointed me in the direciton of this piece over on the Bleachereport. It lists Columbus as the #1 destination for Mats Sundin should he choose to play this season:

Well, they need a top-line center. I may sound crazy to still be giving such a title to Sundin, after his stint with the Canucks, but I truly believe a fresh start could bring him to his old form (or close to it) for one more year.

Other centers on the team include Antoine Vermette, R.J. Umberger, Manny Malhotra, and Derrick Brassard (only played 31 games due to a dislocated shoulder). The highest scorer of these players was Umberger, who scored 26 goals, and finished with 46 points in 82 games.

If Sundin were to become a Blue Jacket, and left winger Rick Nash (who scored 40 goals this past season) were placed on a line, the results could be spectacular.

Sundin's playmaking skills combined with Nash's natural goal scoring ability could make for enough offense to not only make it into the playoffs, but to actually win the franchise's first playoff series (or playoff game, for that matter).

I can certainly understand his reasoning but those who closely follow this squad know that:

1. Sundin made what, 7 to 8 mil last year for 1 season with the Canucks? --- the Jackets just simply can't afford that.

2. Sure they could use that additional depth down the middle -- most teams could -- but the Jackets fill comfortable with their center ice and they have a bigger need for a puck moving d-man.

Where things could get real interesting is if the Jackets suffer a long term injury to either Vermette or Brassard. Howson would be forced to make a move and the Sundin chatter would certainly pickup at that point.

Finally wanted to pass along a new article up over at The Hockey Writers by Rick called For Love of the Game.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Jackets 8th according to THN's playoff predictions

Despite having the 30th ranked PP in the league yet still finishing 7th in the Western Conference The Hockey News predicts the Jackets to finish a spot lower in the standings but still squeak into the Stanley Cup playoff picture.

I won't argue that both Nash and Mason will have to continue to be key ingredients for this team to find success but I think they are vastly under-estimating what a full year of Brassard and Vermette can do down the middle in addition to Pahlsson and what another year of development for guys like Voracek and Filatov could add to this squad.

Until they find a puck moving right handed gun I do believe the powerplay will continue to struggle which will ultimately cost us any hopes of having home ice advantage in the first round.

As of today my prediction is 6th in the West.

This story is a real headscratcher for me.

I had a buddy call up the Blue Jackets ticket department hoping to spend $250 dollars of Blue Jackets gift certificates on one of those 6 game packages.

Sounds like a slam dunk right?

Not so fast Chimera.

He was told sorry, they cannot accept gift certificates to purchase the 6 game packages as gift cards only work through ticketmaster.

Let me get this straight. A paying customer using Jackets branded gift cards tries to redeem those for actual game tickets where he will spend even more money on parking, concessions and most likely merchandise and you say 'no' and end the call without a sale?

This is precisely what drives customers and fans absolutely insane to the point where they just say screw it. I don't care what it takes but you never say 'no' to a paying customer -- you find a way to make it work.

I understand there is process and policy -- I deal with that crap every day.

Never let the process work you, you work the process.

Message to CBJ ticket reps - we don't need any more reasons to dress fans up as empty blue seats.

Yahoo Sports chimes in with their offseason power rankings:

17. Columbus Blue Jackets – We’re not sure what to make of this, but the Blue Jackets have never needed salary arbitration to decide what negotiations between player and management could not. Defenseman Marc Methot(notes) agreed to a two-year deal to avoid a hearing this summer.

They should have just stuck to hangin their hat onto the "Jackets Powerplay stinks" line than to whatever this is supposed to mean.

Bright side... it's better than being ranked bottom 10 which is where the Jackets typically start out on these deals.

Baby steps grasshopper.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Army of one

Let's talk a little CBJ leadership shall we?

When Rick Nash was drafted back in 2002 as the #1 overall pick the hope was that Nash would develop into the player and captain that the franchise could build around for the next two decades.

Fast forward 7 seasons later and not only is Rick Nash entering his 2nd full season as Blue Jackets captain but he is signed for the next 9 seasons.

Nash aspires to lead in the mold of a Joe Sakic and Steve Yzerman. Two long tenured captains who led by example on the ice and when they chose to spoke players stopped what they were doing to listen. I couldn't think of two better leaders both on and off the ice to look up to (okay..maybe Ray Bourque but that's just b/c he's my boy).

The Nash "plan" has certainly taken shape.

With 61 fully entrenched as the undisputed leader of this team for the next decade I thought it would be interesting to take at look at who will be his supporting cast for the upcoming season.

More specifically who gets the As?

Every year Hitch defines his "leadership group" in camp. The idea - he coaches the leaders and the leaders are expected to get buy in from the rest of the team. He also leans on these individuals during the ups/downs an 82 game season brings.

If I recall correctly here was last year's leadership group:


We know Peca and Malhotra will not return. From what I recall all 6 of these players shared the A at some point during the season with all the injuries.

There are a lot of worthy candidates on this Jackets squad for next season that could certainly be a part of this leadership group which is a testament to the type of players Howson has assembled.

I can't see Hitch removing Modin, Klesla or Commodore so it's a question of who replaces Peca and Manny?

I think RJ Umberger is an absolute lock to be a part of this group. As Aaron Portzline has put it so well a number of times - RJ has become the conscious of this team.

The final spot is a bit of a tossup.

At 30 years young Jason Chimera is one of the longest tenured Jackets who baring a trade will be entering his 5th season as a Jacket. I could see him being a guy who quickly gains the trust of the younger players and can fill that communication gap.

Jan Hejda puts in a hard honest night's effort night in and night out and I'm sure he would do whatever was asked of him. On the flip side I don't see him as the kind of guy who would take offense to not being a part of that group. Basically he's the ultimate team guy.

Sammy Pahlsson is the wild card for me. Commodore showed you don't have to be a long tenured Jacket to assume a leadership role. With such a well defined role on the team and being a seasoned veteran in this league he has a very real shot to fill one of those vacant leadership roles.

Fedor Tyutin has quickly become the Jackets best all around defensemen but may not be quite ready to assume a defined leadership role as he continues to round out his game. He's not going anywhere for a while so it wouldn't surprise me if he's part of that group sooner than later.

Raffi Torres is certainly a guy who has been through the nightly NHL battles and has leadership qualities but I think Hitch will want his full focus on getting his game back to his pre-injury level and let's face it, with his contract situation he may not be here past this year.

Antoine Vermette just hasn't been here long enough. If he does get extended his role as a leader could evolve quickly.

Kristian Huselius although he's a good teammate and by all accounts a respected veteran in the locker room it's just not in his persona.

Steve Mason was very vocal last season and I expect that to continue. I don't expect him to be included in this leadership team but regardless as the #1 guy Mase will have a voice in that locker room and in the media. It's just how it works.

Brassard, Voracek, Boll, Methot, Dorsett, Russell, Murray, Filatov.... certainly some of them possess leadership qualities (Brassard immediately comes to mind) but for now they won't be leaned on for any of that heavy lifting. That is for the veterans to shoulder and for the young guys to sit back, listen and learn.

So if I were a betting man here is my guess for Hitch's leadership group for the 2009-2010 season:

Nash - C
Commodore - A
Umberger - A

Chimera edges Pahlsson for his ability to communicate with the young players. Since I'm not in that locker I have no idea if this is true or not but it's just an educated guess based on Chimmer's personality and disposition.

Now there certainly isn't a rule that this group has to be a min/max of 6 players so perhaps Hitch goes with only 5 guys or maybe on top of Umberger he adds both Pahlsson and Chimera for a total of 7. Whatever is decided Hitch fully knows that there is such a thing as having too many chiefs and not enough indians.

Check out the new poll and vote on who you think will replace Manny and Peca in Hitch's leadership group. You can select multiple players.


Pic of the day

This is a picture of Coryn dropping the puck from the Guns and Hoses (love that name!) game a few year's back:

Such a great picture!

Coryn of course is the courageous little girl (and Jared Boll's biggest fan) who has battled an aggressive form of blood cancer – Acute Lymphoblastic T Cell Leukemia - the last few years.

You can read more about Coryn and her bond with the Blue Jackets here.

John Moore is bloggin about his experience at the US World Juniors camp in Lake Placid over the next few days. Be sure to check it out here.

Remember it's not the name on the back of the jersey!

A big thanks to Jeff for the heads up on that one!

Rick over at The Hockey Writers has a great read on camp approaching. Be sure to check that one out here.

THN has the Jackets making the playoffs. Not sure where yet but they aren't part of the group they having missing it:

Be sure to follow the progress here.

How about this little nugget from Puck-rakers yesterday regarding Antoine Vermette:

The Dispatch has learned that contract talks between the Blue Jackets and Vermette's agent are expected to take place later this month or early in September, with the hope of an extension agreement during training camp.

Good to hear. Hopefully something gets worked out before the season kicks off.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Random thoughts and more!

* Where art thou blue men? I know there is a group of fans out there somewhere that can make this happen next season.

* Will 61 be the first retired number to hang in the rafters of Nationwide Arena? With another 9 years under contract you can take that one to the bank.

* No word yet on when single game tickets go on sale.

UPDATE: Single game tickets go on sale Friday, Aug 21st
UPDATEX2: Apparenlty that is only for pre-season games.

* Will the in game presentation make improvements this season? I can only hope they ditch the steady stream of atmosphere killing Will Ferrell videos and corny skits.

More replays including questionable calls. More rock and roll. More cannon. More focus on why we are there -- the hockey game.

* Will the team go with a new entrance song? My guess is yes.

* Nice to see so many season ticket holders reading this site. Well over half of you who voted are either full or partial season ticket holders.

* Ladies you may want to avoid this one but fellas enjoy some good looking women in CBJ gear... I should say in only CBJ gear... courtesy of 971 fan girls.

* RDS is reporting that Nik Zherdev has signed with Yulaev Salavat Ufa in the KHL. I doubt many are surprised by this news. That trade just keeps lookin better and better for Howson.

* Check out Hockey's Future Calder Trophy candidates for the 2009-2010 season. Nikita Filatov makes their list. Check out this line:

Forwards Nikita Filatov, Cody Hodgson, and Ville Leino are all penciled in to start the 2009-10 season in the NHL on teams projected to make the playoffs.

* THN ranks the Jackets jerseys #23 out of 30. I mean seriously.... that Vancouver mess over the Jackets? I'm not big on the piping in Atlanta, Edmonton, Calgary or St. Louis either which are all also ranked above the Jackets.

I really disliked the Jackets old logo -- way to busy -- but love their new look. Homer or not my top 5 would be:

1. Hawks
2. Caps (those reds are sweet)
3. Bruins
4. Canadiens
5. Jackets

You know what they say though... opinions are like..ummm...belly buttons?, everbody's got one. Hey.. tryin to keep it PG here.

* USAToday wants you to vote on your team's offseason. Kevin Allen has them trending even. You can vote on the Jackets here.

* Lindsay Kramer who covers the Syracuse Crunch says we could see more of this next season:

Amazing how Mirasty can hang right in there against a man so much bigger in Sugar Sugden. Dude has balls of solid rock.

* Looks like some serious back tracking from the cabbie who accused Patrick Kane of assaulting him.

"There was a dispute over the fee and it just kind of escalated from there," LoTempio told the station. "It was not really a robbery. That is probably a large distortion of what happened."

Asked if the case would end up as a felony, he said: "Absolutely not."

"I think we should be able to work things out," he added.

The latest report out of the Buffalo News that the cabbie also has a suspended license and two DUI convictions.

I'm not at all surprised. This whole thing just didn't pass the sniff test from the get go. Dude was probably a Wings fan.

* Great article on Jeremy Roenick the video game god which can be found here.

In an era of virtual legends -- preceded by Vince Coleman from "RBI Baseball" and Philadelphia QB #12 from "Madden '92;" succeeded by Pavel Bure from "NHL '95" and Michael Vick from "Madden 2005" -- Roenick reigned supreme. No pixilated player -- not even Bo -- has been responsible for more dorm-room and frat-house money changing hands. He was, in short, the 16-bit answer to suspense writer Peter Benchley's Architeuthis. The beast. Roenick could not be stopped, couldn't be contained; the only real way to slow him down was to turn offsides and penalties "ON." But who wants to play like that?

Thanks to BHG for sending that one in.

* Thanks to Cathy for providing these key foundation dates for next season:

Oct 17th - Hats for Heroes night
Nov 15th - Hockey Fest

* Cathy also points out that some player numbers have been settled on:

#26 - Pahlsson
#32 - Garon
#12 - Blunden
#29 - Holden
#36 - Roy

You can find all of the numbers here.