Archive for August, 2006

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You think your Friday was tough?

August 25, 2006

How hard did it have to be for the Acid Queen to publish this one?  I’ve stayed away from talking about the Mike Danton / David Frost saga for many reasons.  But this post shows why AQ can’t do the same.

Major kudos for stepping outside the usual August (or any month for that matter) banter and posting something that matters.

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MacLean squashes rumor talks

August 25, 2006

I was sitting at home the other night writing a great post about my thoughts on the Zherdev situation, and my computer crashed.  Disappointed with myself for not saving my work, I decided (for the time being) to let my thoughts rot.

Today’s Dispatch article on the topic reignited the flame.  The article isn’t incendiary or all that exciting, but I have a few spare minutes so I’m getting out my thoughts while I can. 

Dispatch writer Michael Arace confirms with GM Doug MacLean that the following is only a rumor: Restricted free-agent winger Nikolai Zherdev to the Maple Leafs for 22-year-old forward Matt Stajan and a draft pick.

MacLean goes on to state that not only is it not true, but it “is totally, absolutely false. On my father’s grave, I would swear that.”

I’m being facetious here, but that sounds very similar to the dreaded “vote of confidence” that a manager or coach will receive from upper management right before he is fired.  Okay, on to my real thoughts on the situation.

According to reports, the Jackets have two offers on the table.  One year for just under a million dollars, or two years for about $3.5 million.  The Zherdev camp has stated that it should be very clear that Nikolai is willing to play in Russia this year if he does not get a deal he feels he is worth.  MacLean and company are confused.  After working so hard to get Zherdev to the States in the first place, why would he want to go back?

I’m having a hard time reconciling my feelings towards this particular situation.  As a fan, obviously I’d like to see Nikolai attempt to realize his potential in a CBJ sweater.  He is an incredibly exciting player to watch (while very frustrating at the same time), and I’d like him to be a part of the continuing growth process in Columbus. 

On the other hand, I do not like my emotional attachment to the team being held hostage by greedy players.  I’ve never been a big fan of holdout situations.  Taking my fan attachment out of the equation, holding out for a better contract usually only helps a player in one sense, the almighty dollar.  It hurts him the following season by not being in tune with his team.  It hurts his team in the same way.  And it hurts his reputation (we all now how concerned today’s athlete is with his/her “rep”) because the fans are likely to think that he is a greedy a-hole. 

So what is my point??  If I’m Doug MacLean (and most days I’m thankful I’m not), here’s what I’d do.  I’ve got a nice two year deal on the table.  If Nik and his camp don’t like it, go ahead and play in Russia.  He can play against lesser competition for a year, possibly come back to the States next year to collect his windfall in free agency, and probably still have the same problems (culture assimilation trouble, lack of backchecking and defense in general, selfish attitude shown by excessive shift length, etc.) when he returns.

Mini-rant alert!  What is it with hot-dogs from Russia (Zherdev, Ovechkin, Kovalchuk) being singled out for excessive shift length anyways?  Do I selectively ignore it when a North American does this?  End of mini-rant.

Nikolai has an opportunity to play with one of the greatest centers in the last 15 years (not to mention a fellow Russian) in Sergei Fedorov.  He could learn, grow, and become the player that (apparently) he already thinks he is.

But if you’re going to hold my team (and remember, I stick with teams, not players) hostage, you can take a hike.

Thanks for stopping by the end of the bench.  Have a great Friday.

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Lack of info

August 23, 2006

Sorry for the lack of writing lately.  Work has been absolutely grueling lately as I’m trying to make sure I’m ahead of the game before I go on vacation in September.

As things become known in the Zherdev situation and camp gets closer, I’ll have a few blurbs to put up.  But it looks like the schedule at the office is combining with a lack of hockey news to keep things pretty slow here at the End of the Bench.

Make sure to visit the great sites on the sidebar.  Just because I’m not posting, doesn’t mean that there’s nothing going on.

Thanks for stopping by.

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Not that you asked, but…

August 18, 2006

I added two “About” pages to the top of the sidebar.  One is about me, and the other is about the site in general.

I hope to have some other material up with these soon.

Have a great weekend.

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Revisiting the newsletter -or- An actual hockey-related post

August 15, 2006

Four years ago, I started a Columbus Blue Jackets “newsletter” called The End of the Bench.  I put the word newsletter in quotes because although it may have been in that format, I didn’t distribute it to more than five people.

Herringbone over at Death Cab for Woody had a little update on his site recently updating everyone on my new address, and he asked when I was going to have my review of Steve Maltais’ contributions to the CBJ (0-3-3 in 26 games in the inaugural season) and the defensive prowess of Derrick Walser.

While Maltais never had a chance even with an expansion team, Walser had potential.  Late in the 2002-03 season (Vol. 1, Issue 3 if you’re counting), I had a comparison between Walser and Duvie Westcott.

At Herringbone’s request and without further delay, here were my thoughts on Derrick Walser’s defensive skills:

 

Youth blueline report

 

Derrick Walser:  Derrick is a puck moving defenseman who holds the point well on the man-advantage.  If Derrick can improve his decision making in his own zone and be a little more confident in the offensive zone, he will become a fine addition to a currently suspect blueline. 

 

Duvie Westcott:  Duvie has many attributes in common with Walser, but has a decided advantage in one area, he can hold his own and is not afraid to do so.  His December bouts with Sean Avery were classic battles between two budding rookies, but Duvie will surprise some people in this league with his toughness.  The Bluejackets will be looking forward to Westcott rejoining the club soon after suffering a concussion in early February.

 

Fast forward three years.  The blueline is still suspect (did we really re-sign Anders Erickkson???), Duvie is an established blueliner who I think will be the best defenseman in the Jackets’ system within two years, and Walser will be hoping to break into the rotation with the Stanley Cup Champion Carolina Hurricanes.  Judging from the blurb on Walser over at TSN.ca, I think I made a pretty good assessment (there is a first time for everything).  Hopefully everything will work out for Derrick in Carolina.  Cason, Penalty Killer… your thoughts?

Well, there is my two posts in one day.  I didn’t want to, but Herringbone made me.

Thanks for stopping by the end of the bench.

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Unpacking the appliances

August 15, 2006

As you can see by the lengthy last post and the slightly new look, I’ve moved. I took (a copy of) my stuff and ran over here to WordPress. I’d been thinking about doing this for a while, and when I helped someone set up another WordPress blog on Friday, I knew that I had to take the plunge.

There were two major reasons for the switch, and I believe they’re related. The first is the ability to add categories to posts. In looking at some other non-Blogger blogs, I really liked the opportunity to filter related posts right from the front page. While my writing generally centers around the Blue Jackets, I also talk about other things. It would be nice for people who visit to be able to look at items in the archives that are related to their interests. If anyone has any suggestions on how I can make the categories more helpful (by way of assigning posts), please let me know.

The second reason for my move was the ease of organization and administration. The writing is the meat and potatoes of any blog, and I think that at least for me the ease of system use and presentation is the platter you serve them on. While the old site may have been functional, it is a bit tedious to have to go into the code to add a link to my page. With WordPress I may sacrifice the ability to add and edit my own code and forfeit most of the customization I had (but didn’t use) with Blogger, but I’m more comfortable with the administrative ease at WordPress.

I’m also thinking about adding a few pages (or sticky posts) to the site so I can have a few different things that are static. Maybe a “Greatest Hits” type section, a more detailed “About EOB” page, and a few other things that will make this a more comprehensive Blue Jackets and hockey blog. I’m open to suggestions here as well.

 

Special thanks to iwocpo at Abel to Yzerman for talking with me briefly about wordpress a few weeks ago, and to Scott at CasonBlog for reminding me that I was thinking about it.

What I’m really looking forward to is coming in less than two months when teams hit the ice for the regular season. The lack of hockey news in Columbus the last two weeks has been a little troublesome. Thanks for sticking with me here at the End of the Bench, and I hope that I can continue to be on your reading list.

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Welcome!

August 12, 2006

Welcome to the new home for End of the Bench. I hope you’ll be back soon!