My last post, #36, brought out a lot of comments on the issue of a premium that Columbus has to pay for free agents to attract them to play here. All of the comments agree that the team does have to pay a financial premium. Some writers blamed Doug MacLean while others blamed the lack of winning by the team. I have to ask, what is the difference? MacLean is a big reason why the team does not win.
At the risk of being labeled a “bottom feeder”, I attribute the premium to Doug MacLean. His record as a GM speaks for itself and is a matter of public record. His personality (or emotionalism if you prefer a softer term) is also out there in the known hockey world. So to get the right kind of free agents, the team has to offer more than other clubs. To eliminate this premium, the team has to win more. You might say this is circular, but if the GM were changed, the circle would be broken.
One other related topic is this: How many players or which players did not consider playing here in the past due to the lack of winning and/or the current General Manager? I know of one player who said no thanks when Columbus approached him a few years ago and that was Dallas Drake, current captain of the St. Louis Blues. (And thank God he didn’t come here; a guy who thinks hit first and touch the puck later.) The Blue Jackets also attempted to lure Brian Rafelski of the Devils, but he stayed in New Jersey. I don’t know of any others out there, but I bet there is a fair number. If any agents are reading this or a person with inside knowledge, feel free to comment.
Finally, in regards to The Hockey News Poll which was not very good for Columbus, there are some positive things that you should know. From my conversations with Blue Jacket players and coaches, they love the facilities here. Having the arena and practice rink under one roof is perfect for them. They can keep their gear in one place, do off-ice workouts in the same place, and attend meetings in the same place. The rest of the NHL teams do not have season-long access to their home ice for practices and have to travel to other rinks for practice and workouts. Picture this: If there were no Ice Haus, the team would have to utilize Easton or the Dublin Chillers for practices. They would have to head to a different location for an off-ice workout. If the coaches call a meeting, they would not be able to hold those at either Chiller.
Also, you hear from nearly everyone who played here how much they like the Columbus area. They are like you and me and want good schools, housing, and not have to put up with problems like crime and traffic. There are lots of golf courses in the area and the restaurant selections aren’t too bad. They can have a little anonymity here and not be bothered that much when they go out in public. If the players are young and single, they simply head over to the Campus area to find what they are looking for.
Now if they would have beat Anaheim last night, it would have been easier to write this post. But Anaheim had to be gunning for the Jackets since we embarrassed them in January and followed up with another win two weeks ago, twice in their own building. The Jackets didn’t play that bad, but the Ducks played a lot better. This wasn’t the October Blue Jackets playing last night, but it certainly wasn’t a play-off contender, either, no matter what some reporters said.