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Puck-rakers cynical?

November 29, 2007

Puck-rakers had a post titled Absolute Mess and boy did it draw the comments. It was posted by Aaron Portzline, covering the unraveling of the Doug MacLean-led group that made an offer for the Tampa Bay Lightning. He mentioned that without MacLean buying the team, the Blue Jackets would still have to pay their former employee $450,00, which I fail to see of any importance, but his closing words were this:

A cynic would say this is MacLean’s last “gift” to the Blue Jackets’ fanbase. Good thing I’m not a cynic.

That is what got everyone talking. So far, the post has drawn 14 comments, with some of the commenter’s echoing Portzline and others calling him and The Dispatch to task for only now speaking up about MacLean’s tenure. It has been fun to read, kind of like watching strangers arguing in a tavern. So at considerable risk, I am going to jump in.

First off, I joined Drew at End of the Bench after we had a debate over the health of the franchise. I pointed out to Drew that not everyone was happy with MacLean and that there are other ways to manage a contemporary NHL team. The two of us discussed personalities, the PEI Old-Timers Club, the draft picks, the role of players within the organization, the marketing, where the NHL was moving compared to the Blue Jackets, and so. Drew stated very early on at EOB that he had concerns about the coverage of the CBJ by The Dispatch since the Wolfe family (and therefore The Dispatch) had an ownership stake in the team. He wanted EOB to show a viewpoint different than the corporate one presented by The Dispatch. It’s not that he picked on The Dispatch, but lets be honest, no other media outlet covers hockey in Central Ohio. That is also why there are so many hockey blogs in this area.

I have met and dealt with MacLean and found him to be knowledgeable but pompous, certain of his convictions and generous to his friends. I have witnessed his temper and found it odd and out of place for a professional of his age. I have friends in the hockey world who guard their opinions of him to outsiders, but have witnessed his foibles. I became a MacLean cynic after his second season in Columbus, but because at that time I worked in the hockey world, kept my guard up. But MacLean had nightly sell-outs going for him, so he had no restraints.

I am not a journalist nor do I pretend to be. I have no idea how difficult it must have been for The Dispatch staff to cover the Blue Jackets when their focal point, by design, was Doug MacLean. Maybe the other media outlets in this area, notably the TV stations, felt that it was a lost cause having to interview MacLean all the time and so they left the job to The Dispatch. It was not like ESPN or TSN or other sports media covered the team and MacLean would have to watch himself. A few journalists did call out MacLean (Eric Duhatschek and James Mirtle), but they did so with no frequency or continuity. So coverage of the team was left to Portzline and Michael Arace, with occasional columns from Bob Hunter. Since Arace and Portzline had to be with the team on a daily basis, they held their noses and wrote their stories. The fans kept coming and filling Nationwide and nobody wanted to hear about MacLean screaming at the officials after a game or screaming at a player in the locker room, or signing a player for too much money.

I do not agree that these writers are being cynical and serving no purpose by bashing MacLean after his departure. MacLean is gone and the team is better, but the attendance is down, revenue is not growing like it should, and losses continue. The team and those who cover it were fully prepared to move on after MacLean was fired, but he had to keep taking shots at Columbus and running his mouth. He had a single good year in Florida, he had a nice opening season in Columbus, but what has he done lately? That is the final judgment in business and professional sports, and that is the world that Doug MacLean lives in. His balance sheet is not something to brag about. Since we fans (I am a PSL owner since Day One) are stuck with the product that he left us, we have the right to bash him. The Dispatch gave MacLean the benefit of the doubt while he was here and was easy on him when he was terminated, but now have the right to (and must) report the truth and won’t suffer for it. They are making us aware of how deep a hole we are in, but named the guy who did most of the digging. They have also written that John McConnell bears ultimate responsibility for both the condition of the franchise and the future of it. I find nothing wrong with the current coverage or the personal blogs that they write.

Doug MacLean still has a home here and spends time in Columbus. Why can’t he take his money and quietly move on?

-Truth Serum

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One comment

  1. I agree, infact…lol

    I recall watching this years NHL Entry Draft in Columbus on TSN.ca; where Maclean blammed Zherdev repeatedly for a number of things.

    Saying: Nobody was drafting Alexei Cherepanov (17th overall, N.Y. Rangers/Omsk (Russia) because of his problems signing Zherdev. He went onto say (on camera in columbus, no less) how Zherdev’s lackluster season (also known as the sophmore slump, something that is to be expected from 2nd year players) was the reason he got fired.

    If we are fair game a month after he got fired, why can’t we say anything about him? I think there is a Doug Maclean fan club over there @ puck-rakers. And I’m taking names…

    Speaking about the health of CBJ…
    We have 2 or 3, 20goal scorers. No offensive-Dmen and thats about it. Oh, and a lam3-duck upper-management that is killing contracts/time before they are allowed to better the team.

    Most playoff bound teams have 2x30goal scorers, 4or5x20goal scorers & atleast 1 good puck moving Offensive-Dman. Teams like Canucks who beat us tonight 2-0 have that kind of team.

    We have never had that in Columbus, and that’s what Doug Maclean accomplished here.



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