Saturday, January 2, 2010

“Oh my God, they killed Kenny!”

I saw several tweets on Twitter tonight after the CBJ’s latest debacle that simply said “the CBJ finally killed Ken Hitchcock” and I think this time they may be right. After all Andy Murray was fired by the Blues earlier today. This is the same Andy Murray who brought the Blues back from oblivion last season to make the playoffs, this is the same Andy Murray who led the Blues to a finish higher than the Blue Jackets last season, this is the same Andy Murray who finished second in the voting for the Jack Adams Award last season and this is the Same Andy Murray who lead the Blues to a better record this season than our beloved Jackets! Geez, talk about “what have you done for me lately”. There have been several days this season when I have looked at St. Louis’ position in the standings and I have thought to myself “if only we had as many points as the Blues we might still be in this thing”. The firing of Ken Hitchcock seems almost imminent after the actions taken by Blues’ GM John Davidson. Our Kenny, just like the Kenny in South Park, seems to get killed off in a different way in every episode/game only to bounce back and be seen in the next episode/game only to be killed again in even a more grotesque fashion. In the case of our Kenny the culprits or “You bastards!” if you will have been a bunch of underachieving young hockey players who for reasons the Jackets Nation have been analyzing and lamenting over for a couple of fortnights now have done Kenny in many different ways. Tonight’s game/episode saw Kenny done in by the Avalanche with just 57 seconds left. Eventually the creators of South Park for better or worse grew tired of the same old joke and they killed Kenny off for once and for all. Is Scott Howson thinking the same thing?

Friday, January 1, 2010

Re post: Top 10 Reasons to Boo Adam Foote Tonight

I posted this on Twitter when the CBJ played Colorado back on December 5. Since Colorado is in town for their last appearance of the year (unless we meet them in the playoffs, HA!) and since Mr. Foote is still a douche bag I thought I would re-post this on my blog. I think it is ironic that in four weeks time some of these reasons already seem outdated. With that in mind here are the top 10 reasons to boo Adam Foote tonight (or at the time of this re-posting, tomorrow night):

10) He started it.
9) Told Fliatov “Just tell them you will be back next year like I did. They will believe anything!”
8) Foote is responsible for Jon and Kate’s divorce.
7) Recent medical studies indicate that booing actually builds immunity to the H1N1 virus.
6) Foote sold ABC on the idea of putting Kelsey Grammar in another sitcom.
5) The way things are going for the Jackets this might be the highlight of the season.
4) Foote taught Marc Denis how to play goal.
3) Booing is just as effective as Viagra and it’s free!
2) Remember this…”Bad captain, bad player, bad teammate”.
And the no 1 reason to boo Adam Foote tonight: MacLean is not likely to come to Columbus anytime soon so…

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

“Congratulations Mr. Kroger, you are at the head of the Delta pledge class”

Tonight’s shootout loss to the Islanders marks the half-way point of the Jackets season of discontent. Here are a few thoughts about tonight’s game, about the first half of the season and what lies ahead. I did not get to watch tonight’s game but I did listen to it on XM. I listened to the Islanders feed and it was quite interesting to get an outsider’s perspective. Billy Jaffe the Isles color analyst basically described Mason’s performance as quite adequate. However, he kept using terms like “lunging for the puck” and “not as fluid as last year”. I believe this outside observer has hit the nail on the head concerning Mason’s sophomore woes. Yes he has only given up two goals in the last two games but it’s probably only a matter of time until he gets bombed in goal and we go back to the “win and you are in” rotation. We do have Darth Vader looming on New Year’s Eve and the Predators are primed to open a Death Star size can on whoop-ass on our boys.
The Jackets finished the first half of the season with 39 out of a possible 82 points. That is a percentage of .476. I feel we need to get 93 points to squeak into the top eight. To do that we will need to get 54 out of a possible 82 points in the second half. That is a percentage of .659. Impossible no, but in order to do that we pretty much have to get two points and not give up a point to an opponent unless they are from the East or a division leader in the West. Overtime and shootout wins are nice but since the Jackets backs are to the wall anything less than a regulation win the rest of the way is a FAIL.
That sobering thought brings me to may last point. Once again our Islander friend Mr. Jaffe repeatedly chided the CBJ for a “lack of firepower”. Even though that seems ironic coming form an employee of Mr. Charles Wang once again the outsiders view comes across crystal clear. The Jackets cannot score. Nash is our leading scorer who is on pace for between 30 and 40 goals with a plus/minus that would choke a horse. His accomplishments this year bring to mind what Dean Wormer said to Pinto in Animal House; “Congratulations Mr. Kroger, you are at the head of the Delta pledge class”. Putting that dubious achievement aside what can the CBJ do about that? Off the top of my head the only thing I can think of is going out and getting an expensive rental of the ilk of Ilya Kovalchuck. Now we all know that Hitchcock + non-defensive playing Russians = Disaster and the snowball chance in hell likely hood of that happening so what can we do? Sadly I believe the answer is waiting for the day this summer when we hear this: “With the (first thru seventh) pick in the 2010 NHL Draft the Columbus Blue Jackets proudly pick…”

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Rebuilding Confidence (1999 style)

Here are a few thoughts I have about tonight’s game vs. Detroit:
The Jackets played an excellent first period. They controlled both the play and the puck. The goaltending was sublime. However in the second period Detroit seemed to catch fire and started controlling the play. Little by little you could see the game starting to slip away from the Jackets. Then the first goal was scored by Detroit (with the defense entirely out of position mind you) and WHAM, you could see the steel door slam shut. No victory tonight. At that point you could see all the confidence that the Jackets had built up escape like air from a balloon. You (and sadly enough the team itself) knew right then and there it was over. Sure the score was tied at 1-1 but the confidence and swagger was gone. You could see the collective throats of the CBJ tighten. There was still a lot of hockey yet to be played but it was over.
Right now this team has a fragile confidence and it doesn’t take very much to destroy it. One bad shift, one defensive lapse, one bad goal, etc. and whoosh, it’s gone. This team reminds me of an expansion team (yes I can hear your collective groaning) young and frankly not very good and one that is unable to compete at the NHL level. Do they not look like the CBJ of the first four seasons? However, all is not lost. Yes I am afraid that this season is (and once again I hope and pray that I am 100% wrong about that last statement) for all intents and purposes over. This is a golden opportunity to lay a foundation for the future. The first step in this process is to rebuild brick by brick this team’s confidence. Any victories, any growth and any confidence built the rest of this year are in fact vital to the future of this franchise. It might take us until next season (or GULP the season after that) to see the benefits of the laying of this foundation of confidence. As you see ladies and gentleman that the calendar will soon read 2010, but for the Columbus Blue Jackets I think Prince put it best…they have to party like it’s 1999!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Answering Scott Howson's Questions - A group exercise

Ok Mr. Dark Blue Jacket I will take your challenge and complete this group exercise. (by the way, are you a Teacher? This sure sounds like school).

Question: Given the expectations surrounding this club heading into this season, how surprised are you to be closer to last place than a playoff spot in the Western Conference?
I am surprised but not shocked. In today’s three point game NHL parody rules the day and teams can be on top one minute and at the bottom the next minute. Look at Colorado and Los Angeles, both teams did not make the playoffs last but they are at the top of the conference this year. I said many a time last spring to whoever would listen not to be surprised if the Jackets did not make the playoffs this year. We just barely got in last year. What is so shocking is how much worse the CBJ are in every area this year as compared to last year.
Q: What player, what aspect of the club, has been most surprising?
Brassard. I expected big things from him this year after the start he got out to last year. Mason’s struggles are not as shocking to me. It is very hard to play goal at the level he did last in the NHL unless your play goal in New Jersey. I was against trading Leclaire last spring. I felt we needed to see Mason play another half season to see if he was for real. I think we have our answer now.
Q: Why is coach Ken Hitchcock the right coach for this club right now?
Not knowing exactly what is going on in the locker room I will answer this way: If the players have quit listening to him then the answer is no. However if he still has their attention he is the right person. I feel if the players do what he is telling them to do they will win. Last season is the proof of that. It is as simple as that.
Q: You have one of the youngest clubs in the NHL. Does he work well with a group like that?
Same answer as the previous question.
Q: Do you feel like you over-estimated Derick Brassard, expecting him to be a No. 1 center this season?
No. Brassard was the leading candidate to win the Calder last year until he got hurt. Actually at this point why not give him another crack at the top line. It might give him confidence and he can’t do any worse than Juice.
Q: How close did you come to making a deal over the last few days, before the NHL's holiday roster freeze went into effect on Saturday?
Who knows but I would sure keep trying.
Q: Do you consider talking during the next week, even though you can't make a move until after Dec. 26?
There is no rule against talking so why not. It would be stupid to stop.
Q: Any thought given to a minor league call-up?
In fact the one move I would consider (depending on whether he can go up and down without having to clear waivers) would be to possibly send Mason down for more seasoning. At this point I don’t feel we can afford to have him “find his game” in the NHL. Our position in the standings is too precarious for that luxury. Instead let him go down, take some of the pressure off and let him have some fun. Conversely, if the rumors about him having a big head are true, a couple of bus rides to Worchester should clear that up. You can always bring someone up from Syracuse to back up Garon.
Q: You made one change to your blue line last offseason, adding defenseman Anton Stralman. If you had it to do over again, would you have done more to upgrade the defense?
Good lord yes. By the way no matter what you thought about him in the past DO NOT TRADE FOR WANYNE REDDEN. He is in Torterlli’s doghouse in New York and would probably come cheap. However the cure for a headache is not to hit yourself over the head with a hammer.
Q: Could this club use another strong veteran presence in the dressing room?
Yes. I feel this club is way too young. The recent struggles show that. It would have been nice to have a calm veteran presence in the room over the last six weeks. I am still baffled by not re-signing Manny Malhotra. It’s not like we upgraded his position. Hopefully Freddie Modin being back will help in this area.
Q: You talk about "going through the process" and "working through it", but isn't that what last season was about? Didn't you feel like you'd already gone through all of this?
It’s like we been “going through the process" and "working through it" since 2000. It’s time to complete the process. If that means a new Coach, GM or new players so be it. The patience of the fan base is at its last nerve.
Q: Do you need an enforcer?
Q: [Why or] Why not?
Ask Chimera, Dorsett or any Jacket who has been the victim of a cheap shot this year. Too many liberties have been taken.

Q: Sitting here, five days before Christmas, do you still feel as if that's a playoff-caliber club?
No. It can be turned around but I am afraid it is too late and I hope I am 100% wrong about that last statement.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!

Since I seem unable to get my thoughts on this situation in the limits of 144 characters on Twitter I humbly post them here. First of all after seeing Steve Mason give up three goals in the matter of minutes in the first period last night, combined with the struggles of the CBJ over the last six weeks I declared this team dead. I also declared them not making the playoffs this season. The reason: I have been watching NHL Hockey since 1971 when I attended my first game at the age of ten in Pittsburgh. Over the last 38 years I have seen certain trends of what constitutes a playoff team and what I have seen out of the Warriors of the Olentangy this season so far does not meet that criteria. In fact I think that no matter how many players meetings this team has, how much calling out of players inside and outside the locker room occurs there is one fact: this is simply a bad team. I feel they are too young and lack veteran leadership. I furthermore went on to state that one of three things will probably happen: Hitch will be fired, Mason will be sent to Syracuse or Nash will be stripped of the “C”. I also stated that I am not advocating any of these changes; I just base my guesses on past trends that I have witnessed in many seasons of being an NHL fan. This touched off a fire storm of responses accusing me of being spot on to just plain stupid. Once again these are guesses not recommendations.

This morning I read Michael Arace’s column in The Columbus Dispatch (in the actual paper and not on line) accusing anyone and everyone who blogs about the CBJ to be “imbeciles”. I vehemently condemn that statement as inappropriate especially as a Dispatch subscriber. Just because I do not have a journalism degree does that make my opinion instantly wrong? Unfortunately for Mr. Arace blogging and instant media is the new media. I will be just as sad as anyone on the day in the not too distant future when the Dispatch announces they will no longer be producing a print edition. I love reading the newspaper on a daily basis and I have done so since my childhood. However making a blanket statement slamming those who care enough about the CBJ to vent their opinions in the blogosphere as mere “imbeciles” probably speeds up the execution date of print media. Ticking off your remaining subscriber base is not a good idea.

As for the Jackets, during the end of the first period I spoke at length with my best friend over the phone (what no Twitter or texting, GASP!). I have known this gentleman since I moved from Pittsburgh to the Columbus area in 1973 at the ripe old age of 12. I taught him the game of hockey at a time when no one in Central Ohio knew the difference between a puck and Woody Hayes’ latest tirade. After we both shared our growing frustration with the CBJ and our realization that our boys would probably be playing golf come April he said simply “Just do something, I don’t care what it is.” At this point we both agreed that doing nothing would be equalivent to flipping a collective middle finger to a rabid but shrinking fan base. Some of you might think this to be extreme but please consider this. Being from Pittsburgh also means I am a lifelong Pirates fan. The Buccos have not had a winning season since 1992. That is the longest streak of losing seasons in North American professional sports history. I no longer care about the Bucs, why you ask? I feel Pirate management doesn’t give a flying f*&% about their fans since it is always “stay the course and be patient”. I am sick of that after 18 years. I do not want that to happen here. Writing this season off, we will have had only one playoff season in our history. “Stay the course and be patient” right now is flipping a collective middle finger to the “imbeciles” who support and care about the CBJ probably more than they deserve.