Dose of Reality #33

February 28, 2007

Dose of Reality

I have been dodging Midwest blizzards and working out of town over the last two weeks. I sent some posts into Mr. EOB while on the road, but the God of the Internets was not very kind and returned every one of them to me, saying they could not be delivered. Kind of like a Blue Jacket victory. I returned to Columbus in time to see the Montreal and Nashville games, entertaining matches, but more losses just the same.

So here I am back in Columbus and just like that, the team loses Fritsche, dumps Conklin, waves goodbye to Berard and Carter, and further alienates the fan base. No, getting rid of Carter, Conklin and Berard did not alienate the fans, it was the stuff that wasn’t done that rubbed all of us the wrong way. When I watched the Rangers game, Doug MacLean was holding court during an interview, telling those who would listen to him that he was planning some moves, looking for a center, a new Mercedes for his wife, but more than anything he was acting as if he is a “player” in the NHL deal making game, which he most certainly is not. A “player” does not produce losing teams for as long as MacLean has.

I don’t really have much to say about the team at this time. Things have not improved much, unless you count losing games by one goal an improvement. The “scouts” told us what many have known or suspected over the past few seasons. The team has very few good players, very few average players, and too many below average players. How can the ownership of the team accept this? Maybe the Jackets are nothing more than a tax write-off for the McConnell family as some have suggested. But in town like Columbus, a team that has incorporated the city name should make us all proud, but I don’t think anyone following this team is approaching that level of emotion.

The other bloggers who write about the Jackets get all worked up over the team and its lack of progress and most of them don’t even own PSL’s. I am stuck with them, yet instead of depression, I have become numb to all the buffoonery that management displays. I read the comments section on The Dispatch web site and find myself actually understanding why local people don’t care about hockey. How can you develop fans with a team like the Blue Jackets?

EOB lambasted the team over the recent player roster deletions of Bryan Berard, Anson Carter, and Ty Conklin. I believe that most NHL players give 100% and I think these three probably did so. But it is hard to argue with Drew’s main point that they were vastly overpaid and a poor investment. The salary that Carter received from the Blue Jackets was monumentally stupid, on par with the Todd Marchant’s a few seasons ago. Anson Carter is the ultimate mercenary player, a guy who will follow the money no matter where it takes him. We all know that eventually people who do this will hit a dead end and unfortunately that was in Columbus. Carter never before hit the kind of numbers that would dictate the kind of compensation that the Jackets gave him and I doubt if he ever will. He is a decent man who was probably stunned by the offer he received from Columbus and was smart enough to take the money and prepare for an exit when his true abilities were discovered.

As for Bryan Berard, he is gone and maybe out of hockey, too. His limitations were also realized here in Columbus and I doubt if another team will take a chance on him. Sure, he might sign a minimum contract to prove that he can still play at this level, but my guess is that he too hit a dead end.

I watched the Buffalo-Toronto game last night and they had a live interview with Darcy Reiger, the Buffalo GM. During the interview, a very skeptical Mike Robitaille asked Reiger “Why Ty Conklin”? The GM did not go off into glorifying his character or how the team was progressing and Conklin would be a key player in the drive to the Cup like some local GM’s would have. Instead, Reiger quickly and simply said that the “price was right” and that was it. He said that Conklin has some potential, but that he will need a lot of coaching and work to improve and get back to where he should be. Wow, honesty!

Finally, I have to say that I didn’t care if the team signed Modin or not. I like Fredrik and think that he is a solid player, one of the few above-average players on the roster. But how is he going to do if the team does not find anyone who can play with him and compliment his skill set and style? Who is going to be on Modin’s line next season, Alexandre Picard? Signing Modin solves one problem without fixing the other set of issues that follows. The Columbus Blue Jackets do not have a master plan of how they are going to compete, who they are going to do it with, and how they will build the infrastructure to maintain such a plan.

I challenge the hockey fans out there to grab a free ticket to the NHL Draft on June 22 and 23 and let Doug MacLean hear you whenever he steps up to a microphone. We should also let any member of the McConnell family know how we feel. Embarrass them! They need to know that they cannot keep taking us for granted, expecting us to show up night after night, supporting their mediocre team. If they want to treat us like fools, they too will have to suffer like fools.

– Truth Serum

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