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.