Archive for July, 2007

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The long summer nap continues

July 27, 2007

I take a break from my summer hibernation, like somebody woke me up out of a deep sleep.  I’m pleased to see that the new GM still isn’t doing anything blatantly (or even remotely) dumb, there are no contract disputes, Kevin Lowe isn’t poaching in Columbus (not that I blame him), and I have taken six calls at work and home regarding season ticket sales.

All in all, a calm and safe summer so far.  Color this Blue Jackets fan cautiously optimistic.  What does that mean?  I’m not sure yet, but when I figure it out, I’ll expound on the theme.  As for now, it’s time to hit the snooze button, pull the covers back up to my chin, and enjoy some more slumber.

From hockey, that is.

I’ve reminded myself recently that this is not just a Blue Jackets blog, but was originally conceived as a general sports blog with a focus on hockey.  Since the NHL is out of season, bring on the rest of the sports!

Baseball

A couple of things I’d like to mention, here.

First, the Cincinnati Reds.  Wow, has this ever been a season to forget.  Starting pitching that is anecdotally (not necessarily statistically) average, big bat offense, and no bullpen equals many more losses than wins.  Since Jerry Narron was relieved of his managerial duties, at least things have looked competitive.  I still find myself tuning in many nights, hoping to see the Redlegs pull one out.  It’s always fun to watch your team win, even when they stink (right CBJ fans?!?).

Next, Barry Bonds and the impending changing of the guard at the top of the all-time home run list.  I’m just not sure I care about this anymore.  Ten years ago, it mattered to me as a baseball fan.  As I’ve grown up a bit since then and been slightly disillusioned by the steroids era as a whole, I’m not as interested in this particular record.  So… whatever.

The Summer of Scandal

Pacman Jones, Michael Vick, Tim Donaghy, Barry B*nds, the Tour de France, etc.

I know “the game” is never the same for anyone once they pass fifth or sixth grade, and start to realize that they’re watching big business on the field/ice/what-have-you.  And I also know that the growing domination of non-stop sports coverage from television, internet, print media, and blogs has changed the landscape of sports in the last ten to twenty years.  But why does it seem that Sportscenter is mostly about off the field action than actual sports?  (I know the answer, and so do you, but it doesn’t mean I have to like it)

(And before you point out that three of the above five examples I gave actually do relate to on the field action, I’m aware.  Please zoom out and see the big picture.)

I’m eager for September and October to be here so I can get lost in hockey, and college and pro football.

Now where is that snooze button again?

Thanks for stopping by the End of the Bench.  Come back soon.

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Dose of Reality #62

July 15, 2007

In the middle of July, it is hard for hockey bloggers to stay with it. Drew, Sarah at The Neutral Zone Trap, and a few other locals like Michael of Army of the Ohio, Tim at Better on Ice, and Tyler at The Jacket Times have cut back on their posts or taken a break. Only Bethany is still going strong, although her boss is looking for more work productivity from her at her day job. But for me, I still have an almost daily hockey activity going on, even as my years in the game wind down. It has always been hard for me to take a break from the game and this summer is no different.

I’m not coaching anymore, so I don’t have to conduct tryouts or hold conditioning sessions. I miss these the most, because they were always casual events, lots of fun, with very little parent involvement. I haven’t worked at a hockey camp in a few years, but even those were good times because the kids wanted to be there to learn and have fun, and the after hours gatherings with my fellow instructors were something I always looked forward to.

I don’t have to attend coaching meetings or seminars or clinics anymore, either. The seminars or clinics were full of guys who couldn’t wait to start blowing the whistle and stand behind the bench, or other guys who used the events as a way to relax and bullshit with their peers and tell stories from their past seasons. I would place Ken Hitchcock in the latter group, a guy who has a million stories to share with anyone in the room, but also a guy who would sit still and listen to you when you told yours. I think Hitch is not sure what to expect this season with the Blue Jackets, but he wants to get the team playing with a higher level of confidence and skill than they ever have. He may wear out a whistle or two when camp opens up, but he has a plan and he will be prepared.

Scott Howson, on the other hand, probably can’t wait for the season to start. He needs to get an idea of what he has and then make the changes needed to help Hitch implement his plan. He won’t have a solid understanding of the team until November, but in the meantime he is pacing the floor in his office, thinking constantly about the options that will present themselves. I just hope he doesn’t get distracted.

Another hockey guy is relieved to know that he is back in the show again with a new chance at coaching. Gerard Gallant took a job with the New York Islanders as an assistant coach. I am happy to see him get another opportunity at coaching and wish him the best. His summer, now more enjoyable with a coaching job, will be full of meetings and planning sessions. I’m sure that he can’t wait to blow the whistle again.

I’ll have more to post as the summer drags on. I still play once a week and could easily fill this space with stories from those games. However, I don’t think the readers want to know about my last tournament performance or how my team once again missed out on a championship game.

-Truth Serum

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Dose of Reality #61

July 10, 2007

Here is an idea that another blogger has thrown out: The return of Sergei Fedorov to Detroit. Ansar Khan blogged at Kukla’s Korner about the utterly useless signing of Dallas Drake by the Red Wings and then wrote that the Wings might be better off with Sergei in their lineup. If that were ever to happen, you can bet the farm that Fedorov would score a hat trick every time he suited up against Columbus and the boo birds of Detroit would be like Peter, denying that they ever turned against him. If a move like this doesn’t motivate Sergei, then maybe he should have retired two years ago. But I think he would thrive.

Now this is all the rambling of a single blogger and a Detroit blogger at that. But it does show that there is room out there to make some roster moves that would benefit BOTH teams if some GM’s get creative. Fedorov was and might still be one of the best players in the game and I hate to see him end his career in Columbus without much to show for it. If the Jackets can move him back to Detroit for a final season and pick up some prospects or cash, why not? After all, we once traded Kevyn Adams for Ray Whitney.

-Truth Serum

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Indefinite vacation for Drew

July 6, 2007

Gone fishin

I just wanted to put up a quick note to not be expecting regular posts from me for the time being.  I’m not burned out and ready to quit, but it is the middle of summer and there isn’t a whole lot hockey related to talk about.  Combine this with a real-life vacation coming up soon, ratcheting up my long-distance running training, and a lack of anything good to say about Jan Hejda… and it’s time for a break.

To the best of my knowledge, Truth Serum will still have his offerings.  So feel free to stop by and visit, and maybe you’ll see a few nuggets from me here and there.  As August and September bring hockey back on the radar, I’ll be back to normal.

Yes, I’ve currently left the Spotlight Series and my NHL Draft recaps unfinished.  I’ll be working on these to wrap them up.

Thanks to everyone who comes to the End of the Bench, I appreciate all the readers and especially those who comment.  I look forward to continuing the dialogue as hockey season nears.  Thanks for stopping by, come back soon.

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Dose of Reality #60

July 2, 2007

Blue Jacket fans, did you have fun watching the UFA frenzy yesterday? Sure, we all knew that the team would not be doing anything, but I felt as if I were attending a party where everybody was talking about their vacation homes in Vail or The Hamptons and I was bragging about Buckeye Lake. The NHL showed me that the Lockout was a waste of time because the Have’s, Philadelphia, Detroit, the Rangers, and a few others, can still bid for the players they want and the Have Not’s, Phoenix, Florida, Nashville, and Columbus, still have to battle for table scraps. Please tell me what is different about the new NHL, will you?

The Jackets joined the Have Not Club just a few shorts years ago, when Doug MacLean was given the keys to the store. He left the franchise in an unstable condition and all of us PSL holders are stuck. He drafted poorly, he made questionable coaching decisions, and then leased some expensive players that the fans can’t wait for the terms to end. We got a not-so-competitive team and we’re short of money. By the way, how does Doug get his friends to write The Dispatch and whine about his termination? Did he tell them he would draft their kid for his next team or something? Anyway, as I watched the Flyers and Rangers load up for next season, I had to reach for an adult beverage or two so I could get through the day.

Yesterday was one more parting shot from MacLean and hopefully it was the last. MacLean is not entirely responsible for poor state of the organization, but he deserves most of the blame. The upcoming pep talks from Scott Howson and Ken Hitchcock will be duly reported by the local press and I will stoically listen to them, not wanting to show fear. I will send them my payments for another season and will boo the living sh*t out of Gary Bettman when I hear him tell me that Columbus is a jewel. When things get dark, I will silently say to myself “next year, next year.”

-Truth Serum