Posts Tagged ‘Columbus Blue Jackets’

Columbus Clash

March 15, 2011

I don’t think I’d be speaking out of turn if I said neither the Columbus Blue Jackets nor the Boston Bruins had Tuesday, March 15th circled on their calendars at the start of this season as a Must Win Game. I’m not sure too many fans or media would have, either. Two teams from different conferences who see very little of each other playing on a weekday night. Just another stop on the schedule, right?

Not any more, folks.

The up-and-down Bruins are losers of 4 straight and certainly have to be feeling the burn of what’s happened since they returned to a hero’s welcome from an undefeated 6 game road trip to beat Tampa Bay at home. They were looking like the team they were supposed to be. They had found an identity. They were sitting atop TSN’s power rankings and looking like they deserved it.

Then came Pittsburgh. Then (deep sigh) Montreal. Buffalo. And the goddamned Islanders.

Full stop.

Suddenly we have a team apparently reeling from what happened to them at the hands of the Canadiens (and perhaps from another well publicized incident in that game, as well) and looking they they desperately need to rescue their cool before things get out of control. Where has the identity gone? Where is the balanced scoring and the goaltending that has led them so far? Where is the confidence? Their leader is under fire from all corners thanks to an absurd, hysteria driven witch hunt and it seems, instead of rallying to his side, they are buckling under the pressure. They’ve tumbled back to 3rd place in the East, a mere 2 points ahead of surging Montreal for the Northeast Division lead. Not good.

Enter the Columbus Blue Jackets. 3-4-3 in their last 10 games and desperately seeking some hope that one of the last playoff spots in the West are still within reach (currently 8 points behind Calagry for the final spot) they also need a win badly. Every game for them becomes a Must Win until the math says it’s over. I know damned well from conversations with Comrade Gonz just how badly the team and it’s fans want in to the Post-Season Party again. Hell, the long suffering loyalists there deserve it. They really do.

As such, the import and interest in tonight’s match is amped up that much higher. Here at HGW, CBJ vs. BOS has always been a grudge match. Now it seems we might not be the only ones who think so.

Game on, motherfucker!

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Savard To Columbus? Doubtful

June 18, 2010

Puck Daddy does a pretty decent job of sifting through the real possibilities of the recent rumor that Peter Chiarelli could be on the verge of trading Marc Savard and Blake Wheeler to the Columbus Blue Jackets for the 4th overall pick in the draft. It certainly does appear that the possibilities are close to zero but you never know. Is this a case of smoke and fire or just a some media generated hype based on an offhand comment and a distant source?

I think the latter. Just because it sounds enticing and, on the surface, might fill needs for both teams doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. Most trades in the NHL don’t make that level of sense.

Which brings me to Jaroslav Halak.

In case you haven’t heard, the Montreal Canadiens traded their heralded post-season wunderkind (the next Ken Dryden/Patrick Roy, remember?) to the St. Louis Blues for two prospects, Lars Eller and Ian Schultz. It’s a head-scratching move as the team dispatches a goaltender who showed flashes of pure brilliance in the post season and re-anoints the troubled Carey Price as the default starter for the club. It certainly looks, at the time of this snapshot, like a deal that could go down as one of the worst in Canadiens history.

Red Fisher thinks it’s “a nightmare trade”. I imagine many in Habs fandom agree.

Monster gamble by Canadiens GM Pierre Gauthier. I can only assume that Eller and Schultz scored phenomenally on their Entry Level Diving Tests and management just had to have them at any cost.

As One Door Closes…

June 7, 2010

I fart on your coaching offer!

The search for the new bench general in Columbus is over in what is the weirdest turn of events for the decade-old franchise. For weeks, fingers were pointed toward Guy Boucher, first year coach of the Hamilton Bulldogs, whose unique 1-3-1 player formation dominated the AHL in its course towards the Calder Cup Championship and was good enough to get them past the first round. Word is that Boucher holds degrees in history, sports psychology, and environmental biology. He also has a set of titanium balls; upon being offered his first ever NHL job, he immediately told the Jackets that he’d think about it.

When news broke earlier today that Boucher had rejected the offer, Blue Jackets fans who dreamed of their defense playing a system completely anathema to their abilities (what else is new) became très désolé. Meanwhile, CBJ GM Scott Howson ended up looking like a dolt. Howson put the coach search on hold so as to give Boucher a shot at the job. With his first choice sticking in the Habs’ family and one-time Jackets player Kevin Dineen possibly joining Steve Yzerman in Tampa Bay, the future looked dark.

Arniel Ready to Rumble?!

For about an hour or so.

No sooner was the bitter aftertaste of Boucher fail tainting the maws of collective Jackets backers than news leaked out that Scott Arniel will be named head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets at a 3pm news conference on Tuesday. Take that, frenchies.

I’ll post more of my thoughts on this as I learn about Arniel. Stay tuned, folks.

Seidenberg & Swamp Thing

June 6, 2010

The Bruins have signed Dennis Seidenberg to 4-year extension worth a reported $13 million total, taking an annual bite of $3.25 million out of the team’s salary cap number. Capgeek.com has them now with an estimated $4.3 million left under the 2010-11 cap and a truckload of RFA’s to sign and Johnny Boychuk still out there headed for unrestricted free agency. Peter Chiarelli has his work cut out for him if he wants to improve this team at forward and, with a certain amount of unmovable dead weight on the books for the upcoming season, both the trade market and potential free agent signings are looking like swampy territory to traverse.

But who knows? Maybe he’ll realize he’s not Alec Holland anymore and find a way to rise up and greet the sun.

A few other Things to consider:

Alright, I know I asked for this but there are times, I admit, I just don’t think things through. Nevertheless, we now have a Three Game Series to decide the Stanley Cup and it begins tonight. I still like the Hawks and not just because I want to piss off Chippy McGuinness. On the contrary, I’d prefer not to have to spend the next two months moving from motel to motel across the country under a neverending variety of assumed names. No, I just still think Chicago is the better team overall and, while Philly has shown they truly do belong in the finals with them, the Hawks will make good use of home ice advantage and pull this thing out.

It’s likely to take seven to do so, though. And watch out tonight, Chicagoans. Laviolette is a smart enough coach to understand the true importance of tonight’s game and have his team lay it all out there in the hopes of stealing this one and giving the Flyers the edge. Hawks need to be prepared to go one level higher.

As my man Gonz is once again AWOL, likely gone walkabout and lost somewhere in the wilds of the Daniel Boone National Forest with a knapsack full of Beefeaters and some Robert Anton Wilson, I’ll have to be the one to chime in on the Blue Jacket’s attempt to make Guy Boucher the youngest coach in the current NHL. Some in Columbus think it’s a big risk hiring a guy with a single year of head coaching experience, that being 2009-10 as head of the Hamilton Bulldogs, the Habs’ AHL affiliate. There’s also the thought that his style might not jive too well with the limitations of the Jacket’s current roster, specifically the lack of puck mobility on defense. Here’s hoping it works out well as the faithful in CBJ land haven’t got much love from their team of late and are due. They screw it up again and all the gin in the world won’t dull the pain.

Apparently the Edmonton Oilers have recently discovered YouTube and hired the kid from Wargames to help them decide between Tyler Seguin and Taylor Hall in the upcoming entry draft. No word on whether Joshua will have any say in the matter or if he just wants another game of tic-tac-toe.

If you need a laugh, and I don’t just mean you, Joel Quenneville, check out the latest from Down Goes Brown, How Do You Pronounce “Byfuglien”? Don’t be sipping a Green Tea while you watch it or you’re going to need to clean off your keyboard.

Just love the tone of this conversation between Bobby Hull and Yvan Cournoyer about their mutual hatred of the Philadelphia Flyers.

“Bobby, I no like ’em since I was born.”

Go get ’em, Chip.

If It’s March, We Must Be Spoilers

March 12, 2010

In non-Cooke/Savard news, the Columbus Blue Jackets celebrated their second win in a row last night, beating the Atlanta Thrashers 2-1. The game was noteworthy as Chris Chelios became the second oldest player to play in the NHL at age 48. And he made an immediate impact when an R. J. Umberger pass intended for his Blue Jacket teammate Fedor Tyutin deflected off of Chelios’ leg and behind Thrashers goalie Johan Hedberg to make the score 1-0.

In fact, all three goals scored last night were of the fluky nature. After the Chelios leg goal, a Kristian Huselius shot pinballed through a couple players before caroming off  another Thrashers d-man into the net. The Thrashers got on the board late in the third when Thrashers defender Johnny Oduya lobbed a shot towards the net and that shot went in off of Tyutin into the net behind CBJ goalie Matthieu Garon.

Despite the victory, the Jackets are yet again playing their Spring role as spoilers. Though some players on the team are unwilling to admit it, they are out of the playoff race and any hope to change that are thinning day by day. Interim coach Claud Noel has been a quirky change from veteran taskmaster Ken Hitchcock, yet results haven’t been consistent. The trade deadline gutted the team of so many veterans that the Jackets are now the second-youngest team in the NHL. There’s a good nucleus of players with Rick Nash, Steve Mason, Jakub Voracek, Derick Brassard, and Jared Boll, among a few others. But to think they can save this season is laughable at best.

Keep in mind, this is a franchise whose front office is mired in hamfisted boobery. Their handling of the broadcast team situation at the end of last season could be described as Orwellian via the Three Stooges. Then there’s the drama over the team’s consistent loss of money due to a badly negotiated arena lease. A few days ago, Columbus mayor Michael B. Coleman hinted that Nationwide Arena could go into public ownership. Judging from the comments of Columbus Dispatch readers, that would be as popular as the Ohio State  Buckeyes rebranding themselves as the Southern Michigan Wolverines.

So yet again, Jackets fans are left to see out the remainder of the season and wonder What If? What if Hitchcock hadn’t frustrated Nikita Filatov enough to set him off to Russia? What if Mason hadn’t suffered his sophomore slump? What if the players were actually in condition enough to play three periods and not poop out mid-game? What might have been?

There’s quite a few things up in the air still and nothing will be decided until the arena issues are solved. Until then, their 2008-2009 season will be the jewel in this team’s crown of shit.

Not So Fast, Fatty

January 13, 2010

It’s cute when people opine on what they know not. Today’s Puck Daddy suggests that the rumors swirling around Columbus about Ken Hitcock on the hot seats may be squashed now that the Jackets have won three games in a row.

Ken Hitchcock usually does most of the eating around the Columbus Blue Jackets, but the media (us included) may be dining on its words if the team builds on a nice little three-game winning streak.

Indeed, even the General, himself, was glowingly announcing a turn around following the Jacket’s win in Edmonton on Friday.

“The whole season changed with the third goal in Edmonton,” Hitchcock said. “It made a difference on the bench, a difference in the locker room, a difference in the feel. The tension was everywhere. Oh, no, here we go again. Something bad is going to happen. When we (Kristian Huselius) scored the third goal in Edmonton, the whole season changed.”

The 4-2 win ended the Jackets’ woeful losing stretch that saw them win only once in their previous 14 games. It was then followed by wins in Calgary and a shutout on home ice against the Stars. At last, the Jackets and their fans could savor victory. At long last, the fire that led them to win five of the first six games of the season was reignited.

Not quite. Tonight, the Jackets went right back to normal with a 4-1 loss to the Blues in St. Louis. Goalie Matthieu Garon, fresh off of being named an NHL Star of the Week, gave up three goals on nine shots.

"Whaddya mean you're a goal scorer? Lightin' the lamp is for pussies."

A few weeks ago, I decided it was time to stop following the Jackets. This team that had been near and dear to my heart since before the first puck dropped and the Chicago Blackhawks shat upon the inaugural game at Nationwide. Last season, it seemed as if the team had turned a corner with their first playoff berth. But a four game sweep at the hands of the Red Wings knocked us back down to Earth. This was then followed by front office stupidity as the Jackets fired FOX Sports Ohio reporter and Blue Jackets pre-game host Jim Day because he *gasp* dared to use words like “disappointment” in describing Blue Jackets losses and often asked tough questions. So a moderately nifty broadcaster was let go in favor of yes men that blew smoke up fans’ asses. There is also the unresolved issue of the Blue Jackets bleeding money due to their arena lease deal. Rumors that efforts to save the team will be at the expense of Franklin County, Ohio, taxpayers. If it comes to a vote, which it should, then by 2012 we can probably welcome Winnipeg back to the league.

It also doesn’t help that the Jackets play a sluggish, outdated style of Hockey. Emblematic of their coach, the Jackets are a slow, sloppy, soft team. Boasting one of the best players in the league in Rick Nash, a natural scorer, Jackets fans are exposed game after game to defense first Hockey. Which wouldn’t be that bad if the Jackets weren’t one of the worst defensive teams in the league. Third periods often resemble a Marx Brothers comedy re-imagined by Ingmar Bergmen.

As maudlin as it sounds, there is still a chance for the Blue Jackets to salvage this season and return to the playoffs. Unfortunately, they have to do it with a coach that prefers traps and tight checking to goal scoring.

Come to think of it, the Kansas City Jackets doesn’t sound that bad.

Your Morning Check

November 6, 2009

Good morning, Hockey nuts.

Viddy this highlight from last night’s Thrashers-Blue Jackets game. The CBJ’s Marc Methot sends Atlanta’s Evander Kane head over heels.

Otherwise, a relatively sloppy game by the Blue Jackets who took seven straight penalties to end the game. That they won 4-3 is a miracle within itself — thank the maker for Raffi Torres.

Meanwhile, in Beantown, the Bruins avoided setting an ignominiously historic mark of being shutout three consecutive games when Patrice Bergeron scored with :52 in the third period. That tied their match with the Canadiens at one apiece. And though the B’s would eventually fall in the shootout, fans can take heart that the last Bruins team to be shutout three consecutive games was the 1928-29 Stanley Cup team.

I’m certain Ken will weigh in his thoughts the Bruins’ scoring woes a little later..

Lastly, the Sharks had their six-game winning streak end in a shootout loss to the Red Wings.

And now, here’s Chet with the weather.

Blue Jackets Bleeding Green

November 5, 2009

The Hamilton Blue Jackets.

The Kansas City Blue Jackets.

The Bleu Vestes de Quebec.

How do those names strike ya? One of those noms could become a reality if the monetary woes the Blue Jackets suffer from go unfixed. Back in May, you may remember that the Jackets were looking for ways to close on an $80-million gap in their books. Today, the Columbus Dispatch rattles the cage with dreary news that a Jackets-less Cow Town could be imminent if a solution isn’t found.

Naturally, this means going to Franklin County voters with Union caps in hand.

As hard on the Jackets as I was at the end of last season’s one-shot playoff collapse, and news that the front office was spiking the broadcasting punch, it would be a great blow to myself and thousands of Blue Jackets fans. Most of us have been there since Day 1. We embraced the team. We endured the likes of Robert Kron, Radim Bicanek, and Lyle “Slodeilen” Odelien. We mourned when Tyler Wright was sent to Anaheim. We seethed when Adam Foote manufactured the trade that got him back to the Divelanche. We love our captain, Rick Nash. We have a frikkin’ cannon in our arena. We have a frikkin’ Hockey bar. We have one of the most active forums on HFBoards.

In short, to lose this team would be devastating to us.

An added extra wrinkle is the effects from Tuesday’s elections when Ohio OKed casino gambling. Some are already wondering how the Arena District area where the Blue Jackets play will be affected.

This story is long from over, of course. There are a lot of variables here. Will Columbus and Franklin County support the Jackets? Can the Jackets renegotiate the lease so as to get revenue from parking and all that? Will NHL commissioner Gary Bettman be as fervent to keep the Jackets in Columbus as he is in keeping the Coyotes in Phoenix or as he was in keeping the Penguins in Pittsburgh? Only time will tell. But the best we can do as fans is continue to Carry The Flag.

HGW Author MIA

June 9, 2009

We’ve been posting infrequently here at HGW. One of the reasons is due to us not caring one whit of a Detroit-Pittsburgh Finals. Yawn. Snore. Mostly, though, it’s because both Ken’s (Boston) and my (Columbus & Boston) teams were ousted from the playoffs earlier than we had hope. Myself, I’d come to expect that the Jackets probably wouldn’t go far but I didn’t fathom a sweep. I mean, c’mon, boys. You handled the Wings well during the season. Why play like it’s 2002 again?

But for Ken, the defeat of the Bruins at the hands of the Carolina Hurricanes was too much. The man breathes, eats, bleeds, and shits black, gold, & white (we’ve suggested Ken see a doctor about that last one). He was really banking on the Bruins playing deep into the post season, so much so that he’d already invited the entire organization to a week-long Stanley Cup Championship celebration at his Northeast Compound in New Hampshire.

Well reported was the news that Ken had secured himself in his Compound to work on his still untitled 13th novel. What isn’t known was the string of erratic behavior prior to and since his sabbatical. Some posts on his home blog exhibits what some consider details of a mind in fracture while KSWNO editor Gorman Moloko details some of Ken’s more public oddball episodes.

The camel’s back long broken, the Bruins’ post-season exit was just extraneous straw on a quadriplegic dromedary.

In an effort to get Ken’s spirit out of the wasteland, I’d secured him to travel abroad to drum up funding for a secret project. So top secret is this project that I cannot legally discuss it. Unfortunately, one of the targets we’d chosen for funds was a, shall we say, ruling leader of a rather unstable yet financially abundant country. Ken’s state of mind, also, meant that he wasn’t being a good guest. That’s when trouble happened.

A few days ago, I got a cryptic voicemail on my cell phone from him. I couldn’t make out much of what he was screaming but it sounded pretty dire. The only words I could make out were “Get of my fucking hat!” and “gooseberries”. In the background, I could hear crashing, glass breaking, and, for some strange reason, an organ grinder. Then the call cut off.

I tried calling the hotel where he was staying but the only answers I could get were vows of reprisals for what he’d done to the writing desk and money to settle the large drink tab he left behind. The local police were no help either beyond saying that there were signs of a struggle. He isn’t answering his phones and any texts I send are going unanswered.

Ken is missing.

As news breaks, we will continue to update you here at HGW as well as on my own blog, The Bouron Asylum.

Ken is not a praying man but I’m sure wherever he is, he could use a bit of divine assistance.

Blue Jackets Saga Getting Progressively Sillier

May 29, 2009

Buddy, can you spare $80-million?

That’s the amount of money the Columbus Blue Jackets have lost in the last seven years. Now, they’re looking for Franklin County, where the Jackets reside in Ohio, to purchase Nationwide Arena in a bid to renegotiate their lease and to pass a “sin tax” without voter approval. Complete details can be gleamed from this Columbus Dispatch article.

It seems that all of these years, the Jackets have been operating in the red due to restrictions that developed as the nine year-old arena was being built. In May of 1997, voters turned down a short-term tax increase of .05 cents to help build an arena for the new team. However, then prospective franchise owner, the late John H. McConnell, promised NHL commissioner Gary Bettman that there would be a new arena for a team. Nationwide Insurance announced that they would pony up the $150-million to build the arena. But the tag came with a price of its own:

  • Nationwide Insurance, as owners of the arena, have naming rights.
  • Since Nationwide owes a great deal of the real estate around the Columbus Arena District, the Blue Jackets get little revenue from parking.
  • To help offset costs for construction, 15 of the arena’s 52 luxury suites were sold with 25-year leases.

The theory behind the sin tax is that, eventually, ownership of the arena would fall to Franklin County. The Jackets could then rework their lease agreement with the county. The arena would retain its name, therefore, Nationwide would pay for naming rights. The plan is similar to that used in Cleveland to fund Jacobs Field and Gund Arena.

One would think that if an organization was bleeding money for the last seven years, more than half of the arena’s original cost of $150-million, something would’ve been set in motion a few years ago. The Jackets have been taking money from Hockey operations to cover operating costs, a “rob Peter to pay Paul” that might’ve worked early on but is not a quality plan for success.

If this sets forth motion of the Jackets eventually relocating, all of the good that the Jackets have done in their community — and I’m talking humanitarian here — will have been for naught. It’s too early in the game to speculate but something needs to be done with the Jackets and now. It seems like a sin tax is an easy fix and the Jackets are happy to pass costs on to someone else. This smacks of rich folks pleading poverty and expect the public to bail them out. Again. That the sin tax would be passed without a voter referendum is an even more egregious because it is against the will of the people… the ones who voted down a tax increase to begin with.

Go Blue Jackets.

Go away.