Archive for February, 2008

h1

Well, well …

February 28, 2008

Well, well, the Jackets did have a game last night after all. I was under the impression that they were going to fold the team after failing to land Brad Richards. How could they possibly think of playing hockey without Richards or Adam Foote? I’m going to put my “Loser” hat away for the time being and follow the team, but I am willing to turn on them if necessary.

So let me get this straight; Tampa Bay was willing to trade Brad Richards to Columbus, but they wanted a goalie in the deal. It’s safe to conclude that they did not mean Freddy Norrena even though our local media did not report that item. So the Jackets put together a deal that included Gilbert Brule, Dan Fritsche, and Ole-Kristian Tollefsen. Unless I’m mistaken, none of them has seen time between the pipes this season and that imbecile Scott Howson did not throw in Pascal Leclaire or Steve Mason. Howson probably has some notion that he doesn’t want to mortgage the future to appease the local media, but I could be wrong. So no goalie, no trade. Pretty simple, and I think most people would agree that Leclaire and Mason are worth holding on to.

By not making this deal, Scott Howson gets castigated. Who’d have figured that?

Then, he dumps the aging mercenary Adam Foote for a #1 draft pick, also cutting payroll at the same time. The only people who are probably unhappy with this are the Realtors in Tartan Fields who now have another over-priced property to peddle. I never thought we could get a #1 for Adam Foote, but what do I know? I try to keep up with hockey and read Puck Rakers every day, but that may not be enough.  I will miss the untimely penalties that Foote used to take, however.

Sergei Fedorov is now gone and in return we got some kid who is confused about his first name. All season, people have talked about dumping Fedorov and the team has finally complied, even getting something for him. But they didn’t move Peca or Vyborny, so I shouldn’t be happy with the millions that the team has saved. Maybe nobody wanted Peca or Vyborny, so that is why they are still here.

I’m going to keep attending Blue Jacket games and support them. Even if Rick Nash picks a useless fight, I’m going to support them, but ask Rick if he would not follow the Adam Foote leadership model.

-Truth Serum

Advertisements
h1

More required reading

February 27, 2008

Stay away from the local mainstream media right now (according to them, we have no reason to watch games the rest of the year), and take a tour through your friendly neighborhood hockey blogs.

May I recommend:

Sarah at the Neutral Zone Trap

Another view that looks at yesterday’s events through what I see as a sane fan’s eyes.

Check it out.  And if you’ll be in town tonight, go support your hockey club.  Sharks and Jackets face off at 7 PM.  Jody Shelley is in town, maybe he’ll drop the gloves this time.  Ha!  I’d go, but I’m headed to Florida for a few days.  Enjoy the snow.

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

– Drew

h1

You’ve had a day to sleep on it, but do you feel any more rational?

February 27, 2008

That’s a question to you, Columbus Joe/Jane Hockeyfan.  I had little issue with yesterday’s dealings, so I’m just as fine today as I was yesterday.  But I’m wondering how many of you really won’t watch tonight or think this season is now wasted (you know ’cause it wasn’t already done three weeks ago).

Foote to Colorado for conditional pick (or picks)

The facts: Blue Jacket captain Adam Foote was sent to Colorado yesterday.  In return, the Jackets will receive one or two picks.  If the Avs make the playoffs this year, we get their 2008 first round pick.  If not, we get their 2009 first round pick.  If Foote signs with Colorado (extension or in free agency), we also get a fourth round pick in 2009.

Money talks (financial analysis): The Blue Jackets are off the hook for the remaining portion of Foote’s 2007-08 salary, which roughly works out to $1,008,556.  #52 was to be an unrestricted free agent after this season, so the money saved only applies to rest of this season.  The $4.6 million we won’t be paying him next year would have been available even without the trade, so I’m not buying the “now we have that money to spend in free agency this summer” line.  The money was going to be there anyway, whether GM Scott Howson chose to spend it on Foote or someone else is all hypothetical at this point.

Bullshit walks (Drew’s analysis):  Based on the vibes we’d been fed from the Dispatch and Puck Rakers up through the day or two before the deadline, signing Foote to an extension seemed all but a done deal.  Any day now, was the line.  The rumblings that have come out in the time since the trade (and I’m not speaking for the validity of these comments, just what I’ve heard from MSM sources) are that Foote wanted to go back to Colorado.  He wouldn’t budge on his salary number, just as Howson wouldn’t budge on his, and effectively forced a trade “back home”. 

A year ago, I would have been happy to get anything for Adam Foote.  I believed that he was not performing up to par.  This year, I think he has been a nice asset to have on the blueline and I am sorry to see him go as I don’t believe we have another defenseman in the organization right now who can fill his shoes.  That said, the return we received from Colorado is quite nice.  A first-rounder for a 36-year old defenseman, and maybe another pick as well?  The Dispatch guys had it right when they said that Adam Foote is probably more valuable to the Jackets than any other team in the NHL, in my opinion.  A year ago, Jackets fans were up in arms about receiving a sixth round pick for Anson Carter, and now they’re pissed about getting a first (and maybe fourth) for Adam Foote.  Jackets fans, it’s human nature to overrate players you like or that are on your team.  This is a good return, I truly believe this.  Do you think we should have asked for Paul Stastny?  Wojtek Wolski?  Not going to happen.  I know there are other related questions, and I’ll get to those in a bit.  On to the other move of the day.

Fedorov to Washington for defenseman Theo Ruth

The facts: Center Sergei Fedorov was sent to Washington in return for defenseman Theo Ruth, the Caps’ second round pick in the most recent draft.  Ruth currently skates for the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame.

Money talks: The Blue Jackets are off the hook for the remaining portion of Fedorov’s 2007-08 salary, which roughly works out to $1,333,048.  Again, this budget reduction only applies to the rest of this season.

Bullshit walks: My suspicion is that Fedorov would not be a Blue Jacket in 2008-09.  At least, if I were the GM I likely wouldn’t have signed him for much more than $1.5-2 million if even that.  I do not know much (okay, anything) about this Ruth kid, but I will say that getting something is better than what we would see when #91 walked at the end of the season.

I believe the Jackets were a better team with Fedorov in the lineup, but it was more an intangible thing than anything else.  Perhaps he survived more on his legacy than his current actions.  However you slice it, though, paying that much money for a marginally interested guy who’d missed 15 games due to injury this year, and has produced 28 only points in 49 games was a cement block of a contract.  Now… it’s gone.

Odds and Ends: My answers/responses to the questions/comments you’re not asking/making (at least not to me)

Comment: (Variations on a theme)  These trades mean no playoffs for the Jackets.

Response:  Actually, the season was killed in this 13 game stretch following the All Star break.  Giving up 4 or more goals six times, being outscored 27-39, and taking a whopping 11 of 26 possible points.  To reach the 95-point mark (roughly where the 8th place team in the West has been the last few years), the Jackets could only afford four losses in their remaining 18 games.  14-4.  13-2-2.  With or without Foote, Fedorov, or even Brad Richards… this is not going to happen. 

Impossible?  No.

Likely?  No.

Comment:  But we’re only five points out of eighth… why sell?  We’re still in it.

Response:  You’re not listening.  We’re only five points out, but we’d also need to leap three teams to make it.

Comment:  Three wins and that’s all we’d need.

Response: (wow, this is a tough sell, huh)  If every team we need to pass loses their next three games in regulation, it could happen, yes.  As I said, it’s not impossible.  We’ll likely not be “mathematically eliminated” from the post season for at least another 25-30 days.  But when you see where we are and where we need to be, it’s already done.

Comment:  But Washington is only five points out of the race in the East, and they were buye…

Response:  Listen, I’m trying to save you from yourself.  Just stop.  As a fan, you should be enjoying the most successful season in Blue Jacket history.  Instead, you (Joe/Jane Fan) are complaining that we’re not going to win the President’s Trophy.  Remember that post I had a while back about franchises that had to wait to make the post season?  Be glad you’re not the Saints.  We are not (likely) going to make the playoffs this year, but we’re poised for a run of decent-to-great years.  I’m going to enjoy them when they’re here, and not sit and mope because Howson is still having to work with what is mostly ex-CGMDM’s team.

Comment: (I heard this one multiple times from Speilman and Herbstreit on the radio last night)  Now that the Jackets have given up on the playoffs (see comments/responses above), they have to suffer through the shame of being the only hockey franchise never to make the post season.

Response: Who cares?!?  We’re finishing our seventh year, and we will get there.  Not likely this year, and maybe not next year, but we will get there.  If it really hurts your feelings as a fan when this is mentioned, get a life.  I guess I have to keep in mind that a lot of these people who “feel the shame” are also Buckeye fans who are not satisfied with making the BCS title game two years in a row (yeah, you didn’t win either time, but I’m not greedy).  Seriously… get over it.

Comment: I heard that we could’ve gotten X pick/player/whatever for Fedorov/Foote/Vyborny/whoever.  Why didn’t we make this deal?

Response:  As much fun as playing armchair GM is, it’s worth remembering two things.  One, it’s not as easy as it looks.  Two, I “heard” a lot of stuff yesterday, too.  Until things are signed, sealed, and delivered… they’re just rumors.  Pissed we didn’t get Marleau/Jokinen/Hossa?  It’s likely we’ll never know how close we came to any of these deals, if they were even discussed.

In summary

Yeah, I’m a little touchy after yesterday.  Not because the Jackets didn’t make a big splash, but because the media is painting the Jackets as a big loser in the trade deadline and a select number of fans are making it sound like all Blue Jacket fans are shallow and ignorant.  To the media: we didn’t land Richards, but we did purge over $2 million in salary commitment while adding a first round pick (at a bare minimum).  For a franchise that is not rolling in the dough, this is a big deal.  To the “fans”: losing the Richards Sweepstakes was tough, but the other moves will not make a difference in our playoff chances, which rested between slim and none regardless of what happened before 3 PM yesterday.

I leave you with three words: Fourteen and four.  Okay… three more: not gonna happen.  But I’ll still watch and cheer.

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

– Drew

h1

There will be reaction here soon

February 26, 2008

Stay tuned.  Dinner with family supersedes my need to tell Columbus hockey fans to calm down.

My $0.02: not a bad day for the CBJ.

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

– Drew

h1

How to keep readers 101: write more

February 22, 2008

The 2006-07 hockey season was a banner one for us here at the End of the Bench.  We doubled our roster of writers (to two!), and posted often about our thoughts on the hockey world.  What reason did I have to expect that the 2007-08 season would be any different?

I can’t answer a lot of life’s questions, and the query of “why have you not written an entry in over a month” is no exception.  There are a lot of little thing that may or may not have combined to keep me away from the hockey blogosphere lately.  Then Truth opined in his latest column that Puck Rakers has been a catalyst for him not writing much, and that got me to thinking.

I like reading the daily thoughts from the Dispatch writers, but I think an interesting thing happened to their blog as it’s grown up.  (Please note, this is only my opinion and I could be dead wrong.)  When they first started writing, it seemed to me that most of their posts were rewordings of their print articles.  They didn’t offer much in the way of additional insight, they just did it on a spiffy new platform called “blogging”.  However you painted it, it still looked like regular journalism to me.  No problem there, I think. 

They started to get regular commenters, and those people (as Truth mentioned) are not afraid to speak their mind.  When the season took it’s first bad turn (November), the commenters turned on the Jackets a little (or a lot, depending on who you were reading that day).  This change seemed to convince the writing of the Puck Rakers to make the slight shift from normal journalism (similar to articles they’d already put in print) to being your everyday, run of the mill blogger.  Or perhaps worded differently, the type of blogger that “real media folk” love to hate.  Fact gave way to opinion, which is okay coming from a columnist, but not a reporter.  Reporting gave way to sensationalism, in everything from post titles to content.

They intimated or blatantly wrote things that they wouldn’t (or couldn’t) write in the papers.  The type of things that if I wrote, would be reasons why “bloggers” shouldn’t get media credentials.  Like Truth’s favorite, “the Jackets are pussies”.

I’m not so nearsighted that I don’t realize that I’m coming off as a sore blogger who is disappointed to have a MSM blog on my turf where there was none before.  I can assure you, however, that this is not the case.  First off, I’ve never applied for media credentials and at this time it is nowhere on the EOB radar.  Secondly, I’ve stated here many times before that I don’t do this for the readers, I do it for me.  Anybody who thinks this site is worthwhile is icing on the cake for me.

So why do I care?!?  Good question.  Maybe I think that a “blog” that operates under the signage of a major daily should strive to uphold the jounalistic standards we suppose they have.  Maybe I think that if they want to be a blog, they should be a blog.  You know, “When in Rome” and all that crap.  They talk about “not being in the business of promoting other sites/etc.”, but there’s a link to YouTube on the Dispatch CBJ homepage.  Maybe I think that they use the front of having a reputable newspaper to give credence to their opinions, however whacked out they may be.  Maybe their writing style and behavior caused me to look at my own writing and examine whether I wanted to be a public cynic or just be a fan?

Ouch.

The Jackets are in the midst of their best season in franchise history, and they’re doing it with talent that places them in the bottom third of the NHL.  I can say this because I don’t have to face “the guys” in the locker room tomorrow morning.  I mean no offense toward any of the CBJ players, but they’re just not “there” yet.  I didn’t expect to make the playoffs this year, and the fact that we’re still technically in the game is very exciting to me.

Whatever happens, making the playoffs or not, adding players or fire sale, etc., I’ll be here supporting my team.  I’m hoping that things will pick up from Truth and I, as it really is a fun time to be a CBJ fan.

If you made it this far, congratulations.  You just read a bunch of self-serving crap from a struggling hockey blogger for a struggling team.  You deserve a medal.  I’ll put it in the budget.

Jackets play tomorrow night in Montreal.  Let’s hope it’s a good one.

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

– Drew

h1

I don’t blog much these days

February 18, 2008

I haven’t posted anything in a long time. There are a number of reasons for my absence, including work and travel load, family commitments, and other items. But the main reason I’ve lost my enthusiasm for blogging on the Blue Jackets is because of Puck Rakers. It is an interesting blog, with timely inside information and loads of comments from the readers. And they are doing a great job of killing my interest in the Jackets.

First off, the people who comment at Puck Rakers can say whatever they want, which they have no problem doing. But the level of negativity is overwhelming and stifling. Every player in this town has an army of enemies who can’t wait to rip them after each and every game. At the beginning of the season, all you read about was how worthless Nikolai Zherdev was, that he sneaked around the locker room and sabotaged his teammates equipment, that he was plotting to kidnap Rick Nash and imprison him in Russia. But I guess Zherdev must have stopped taking his stupid pills because I don’t read those comments anymore.

I can list lots of other examples, like Kris Russell should be playing in the House league at CCYHA, that Manny Malhotra is shooting from the wrong side, that Jason Chimera is a lock for the Hall of Fame.

I haven’t even mentioned the fact that most of these people who are locals don’t go to the games but watch them on television. Or else they pay too much for tickets or parking. If you think you’re paying too much, well then you’re paying too much. But that is a personal problem that has nothing to do with hockey.

But my real gripe is with the Puck Rakers themselves, Aaron Portzline, Tom Reed, and Michael Arace. These guys, who a year ago didn’t write anything unless Doug MacLean told them to, fan the flames of fan unrest better than anyone. Sergei Fedorov left the team. Nikolai Zherdev won’t talk to the media. Scouts at Nationwide to close a deal. And my favorite, the Jackets are pussies.

I know a few things about hockey and one of them is that hockey players are loyal and tough. They do not back down from a fight, they stand up for their teammates, they take umbrage when they are being shown up, they do what the coach tells them. When the team loses a game, if the media wants to question the match-ups or the game game tactics, or an individual act, fine by me. But don’t tell me the team is soft. The only thing soft about hockey in this town is the quality of media coverage.

Like I said, in the past when Doug MacLean would stand up to say that he wouldn’t trade his team for the Red Wings, nobody in the local media, save Bob Hunter long after it occurred, spoke up. When MacLean let Ray Whitney go, who questioned him? When he selected Alexandre Picard as first pick in a previous draft, did someone ask him why he evaluated Picard so high?

Now we get reports of NHL Scouts attending CBJ games. That’s great, but tell me, Puck Rakers, where are the Jacket Scouts at and who are they watching? Tell me why the team isn’t negotiating with Ron Hainsey more. And while you’re pouring it on about the latest win/loss streak of the team, tell us that in reality, the whole NHL West is not moving much. The Jacket losing streak is news, but so is Detroit’s.

The team is in the thick of things and because the other teams fighting the Jackets for a playoff spot are not doing much better, we still have hope. Not a sliver of hope, but real hope. In fact, the race for the final playoff spot might go down to the last day.

So if you miss me, I’ll try to write more. If you don’t agree with me, let me know, but please use reason and logic. My suggestion is that the local hockey community was served better by Neutral Zone Trap, Bethany, Better On Ice, Blog Jackets, and a few others. Puck Rakers has turned into a rant fest, not a site for those who love hockey.

-Truth Serum