Dose of Reality #15

December 12, 2006

Dose of Reality

I don’t know what was more exciting Sunday night, the Blue Jackets convincing win over the Ottawa Senators, or the sight of a bat flying over the sheet of ice for about 45 minutes before it was captured at the beginning of the game. Seeing the look on Dan Fritsche’s face as he discovered during the pre-game warm-up that it was not a bird flying closely over his head but a bat. Ron Hainsey tried to swat it with his long stick. An unidentified player freed the animal when it got caught in the protective netting behind the Blue Jackets’ home end when he shot a puck nearby, springing it free for another few minutes. Did you catch the look on Leo Welch’s face as his eyes got extra large scanning the arena while he sang the anthems? Oh yeah, then the Jackets played a hockey game.

The team looked unusually strong last night, competing from start to finish. And I do mean finish. The players were strong on their sticks, close checking, and fast the entire game last night. They made Martin Gerber look bad, so bad that I thought he was playing with his catching glove on the wrong hand. They didn’t take any of the bait that Chris Neal was throwing their way, they frustrated Dany Heatley, and overcame a few injuries of their own. It was a lot of fun to watch.

I am sure that Ken Hitchcock is saying over and over to the players that it is a long season, even though one-third of it has past, and that they need to play like this every night. Sure they played very well, but Ottawa helped them some with their own listless play. So at the risk of preaching, I will say to anyone that reads this that it is a long season and there are a lot of games to play yet.

I heard a few people talk about being only eleven points out of the conference standings right now and if we keep playing like this we will surely make the playoffs. I hope the team does make the playoffs, but the Jackets also need a few other teams (like the ones just above them in the standings) to stumble and they need to stay healthy. The team called up Filip Novak and Ty Conklin today, which means that the injuries to Pascal Leclaire and Adam Foote last night are not trivial.

Until the team releases more information on those injuries, we fans will be uneasy about the immediate future. Things are back to being unsettled and Hitchcock will have to earn his money. One can only hope that the General Manager has stocked the system with solid players to fill in when things like this happen.

Changing the subject: A few readers have questioned me about my criticism of Doug MacLean not making Gilbert Brule available for Team Canada. It is not that I want to see Gilbert skating in the World Junior Championships, but rather it is that I want to see him skating. If you recall, I wrote that he needs to get regular ice time somewhere, with the Blue Jackets, Syracuse, or back with his Junior team. That was behind the reason for my comments in Dose of Reality #14.

And to respond to another point that was made about that column, a reader reminded me of Dominik Hasek’s injury during the last Olympics and the risk that the Jackets would take with Brule exposed at this tournament. No doubt that Hasek’s injury did shorten the success of the Ottawa Senators, but Hasek was 40 years old at that time, not under 21 like Brule. Hasek also has a reputation for exaggerating his injuries and not being honest about his health with his team(s). Brule just wants to and needs to play.

– Truth Serum



  1. I agree with you on that he(Brule)should have been made available to play for Team Canada. The irony however is that he would have been in tough just to make the squad because of the competition and the fact he has not played very much and not very well. As you know Brule cannot go to the AHL until he turns 20 which is Jan. 01/07. With Doug in charge, Brule will not go to the AHL: young Gilbert is being groomed to be … well let’s say a marginal peripheral winger who gets more ice time than he deserves right now. Let’s say that Doug should have sent him back to junior when he had the chance a month ago and like you said, let the kid develope and get gobs of ice. Picard and Brule have not turned out very well for the Jackets given that each are a high first round pick. Only time will tell.

  2. Here is something to think about. According to TSN, Alexander Picard has a contract paying $984,200 for this season. Brule only gets $850,000. Who is the better player, as of today? Imagine how good Brule could be if the organization used better judgement.

    I like your question: What is Brule being groomed for? And why did they draft Picard #1?

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