Archive for March, 2008

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Mr. Mirtle Comes to Capital City

March 29, 2008

Last night I met up with James Mirtle, he the Greatest Hockey Blogger in the Known World. I had my wife with me, so some activities were out of the question last night. We talked some hockey, I gave him a 30 second tour of the Arena District, and James was impressed, although he didn’t say anything about the need for a streetcar. He was able to purchase a Chimera hat for only $3 U.S., a great price considering Jason’s new contract.

The game was not a good one to see. It was over in a 1:38 span of the second period. The mounting losses to the Predators is something that even possesses the Jacket fans. When Nashville scored their second goal last night, a man behind me dejectedly said “It’s over!” There was still plenty of time left and Columbus was outshooting Nashville, but I have to agree with the guy, it was over. The Jackets may have taken 43 shots on goal, but how many of them were quality shots? How many squandered chances did they have? And how many minutes did they waste when they were unable to execute a simple breakout?

The other difference between the teams last night was that Nashville had to win to keep their playoff hopes alive. They did not play their best game against Columbus, but they still found a way to win. I am waiting for Ken Hitchcock to teach the Jackets this trait, a find-a-way mentality, something to trump the old “whatever” attitude that is killing the team. If we could have won just two more games against Nashville this season, we would be ahead of them in the standings. For some reason, the guys can’t get it done.

This afternoon, I watched the Miami-U.S. Air Force Academy game. Miami won in OT, 3-2, but it was inspiring to watch the kids from Air Force scare one of the top programs in the country. Miami players are pro prospects who have the opportunity to play at the professional level. The Air Force kids are going to serve the country when they finish playing. They live a dedicated and disciplined life, with hockey serving as an outlet while they train. They get a quality education in return for their service. The kids at the Academy don’t say “whatever”. Good luck, Miami, but way to go, Falcons.

-Truth Serum

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Scandal might explain the missing Garmin

March 25, 2008

I thought there might be more to this. This really makes me question the way things have gone.

No rolling, no winning

The Canadian Press

ST. JOHN’S, Nfld. — A Newfoundland man, steaming mad over a Tim Hortons coffee he recently bought, is among a growing number of Atlantic Canadians caught up in a controversy over the chain’s Roll up the Rim to Win contest.

Complaints continue to come in from eastern Canadians who think staff at Tim Hortons are rolling up the rim to check for winners first, then passing off losing cups. more

-Truth Serum

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What’s that smell?

March 23, 2008

That was a bad one last night.  Most of my fellow bloggers and members of the MSM are castigating the entire team with the exception of Rick Nash.  I agree that Nash had the best effort of any Blue Jacket last night, but the captain needs to stay out of the penalty box.  His two penalties did not help.  That was an Adam Foote-like game for Rick, except Rick can (and did) put the puck in the net.

It was tough to watch the game surrounded by Red Wing fans, but hey, at least their team showed up.  Congrats to the guy who sneaked in the octopus and threw it on the ice.  Good luck in the playoffs, Detroit.  You’re going to need it with Dominik Hasek in the nets.

At least somebody won a Garmin last night during the Tim Horton’s promotion.  Should have given a GPS to Hitchcock to help him locate a hockey team.

***Yesterday morning, the Blue Jackets had a little gathering for us PSL owners and it was nice.  We were all invited to watch the team practice and then hear Danny Gare, Jeff Rimer, and Ken Daniels, the Red Wings TV broadcaster.  All three men did a nice job of entertaining us and gently ribbing Ken Daniels.  Daniels was honored to address the Columbus fans and you could sense his appreciation.  He didn’t shout anything about Ohio sucking, either.
-Truth Serum

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A Few Things Come to an End

March 20, 2008

The modest but entertaining two-game win streak ended last night late in the third period at Joe Louis.  The Blue Jackets were depleted with the loss of Boll and Fritsche and had to hope that Freddy Norrena could hold the fort, but it was too much for him.  Detroit had to be gunning for the Jackets because they didn’t enjoy the loss last Sunday after outplaying Columbus.  Saturday is crucial for the Jackets; a win over Detroit would give them the season series with four victories.  This is nothing major, just for pride.

David Vyborny’s season may be over and I hope that he gets another chance to wear a Blue Jacket sweater.  Although he is not having a good season this year, the man has give us his all since he arrived here in 2000.  He is an honest, hard-working guy, a player who keeps his mouth shut and does his job.  I hope that we get to see him again.

Pascal Leclaire himself has been stopped by a puck.  It is nice to see Pascal play a whole season and not get stopped by injury or a physical breakdown.  A puck to the head is nothing.  He’ll be able count to ten in English in no time.

Is Manny Malhotra just lucky or has he been misplaced all season?  Five goals in three games is nothing to sneeze at and it makes me wonder if Ken Hitchcock should have taken a different route with him.  Everybody who plays the Jackets focuses on Rick Nash and Nikolai Zherdev, so it is nice to see another player step up and put some biscuits in the net.  Way to go, Manny.

A highlight for me in the Sunday game with Detroit was the Tim Horton’s in-game promotion for the “Roll up the Rim to Win” contest.  Mike Todd was telling about 20 fans that one of them would win a Garmin GPS unit by rolling up the rim of their Tim Horton’s coffee cup.  We all waited to see which fan would get the prize, but something went wrong and nobody won.  Maybe they hid the Garmin in a Donato’s pizza box?

-Truth Serum

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Oh my!

March 15, 2008

Last night was truly awful.  It was hard to watch and it was even harder to consider renewing my PSL’s for next season.  And I don’t want to even think about going over to Puck Rakers and reading the comments there, although you can’t blame them for ratcheting their negativity even higher.

“We were really light on the puck,” Hitchcock said.   No shit!  Light is perhaps not the right word.  I would think about using inept or incompetent.  Nobody gave a thought to playing defense in front of the goal or making a good breakout pass.  It was like watching a local high school game pitting one of the elite teams against one of the bottom teams.  Oh well.

I’m not going to rail against the players because they all have the talent to play the game at the NHL level.  Trading one set of problems away is not going to improve the team.  Ken Hitchcock is a good coach and a good motivator, but this has been a tough season for him.  Just when you think the team “gets it” and by that I mean they can go out and play with their skillset and brains, they leave their brains at home.  The brief shinning moments of December and January are just that, brief moments.  Last night they played like a team that has accepted its fate and didn’t want to compete.  And that is no way to break through to the next level.

Maybe Hitch has to send the team to one of those motivational camps like some of the other NHL teams do.  Send them to an Outward Bound program or West Point.  But I know one thing that Scott Howson and Don Boyd should do in the future; give all prospects an intelligence test and give it to them under duress.  If we find a guy who can show some intelligence and remain focused, then look at his hockey skills.

-Truth Serum

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Arace Makes New Friends

March 9, 2008

I usually enjoy Michael Arace and look forward to reading his stuff, even when he ventures away from hockey. But I have to question his Saturday piece about Friday’s CBJ game being a perfect hockey night. I thought the perfect hockey night took place at The Chiller in Dublin, the dramatic CCYHA Mite House Tournament. As you remember, the weather on Friday was fierce, even discounting the wimpy Central Ohio standards. Brave parents drove their families out to Cosgray Road during the rush hour so that their children could play the scheduled Mite semi-championship games. Because The Chiller remained open as the snowstorm began, the games would go on as scheduled. So the Bruins and Penguins squared off for a fierce battle of seven and eight year-olds. The Penguins were regular season champs, but the Bruins hung with them and the game ended 2-2. After a tenacious three-minute overtime, the shootout began and went about 10 rounds before the Bruins won as their goalie held her ground. The Bruins won the right to face the Flyers at Nationwide Arena for the CCYHA Mite House Championship. If the Bruins goalie can play as well as she did Friday, it will be tough for the Flyers, but they are no slouches either. By the way, the championship has been postponed until further notice.

This was hockey as it was meant to be, with families doing all they could to get their young children to the rink under very bad weather conditions. They weren’t just Dublin area kids, either; they came from London, West Jefferson, Marysville, and points East. It was not easy for them to drive out there during rush hour, but these families love hockey and their friends, young and old. I am sure that the eliminated Penguins and Thrashers were disappointed, but as every parent knows, a small snack quickly eases the pain of losing, and after a cookie and drink, the kids were ready for their next game in the Fall. These are real hockey players and the future of hockey in Central Ohio. Maybe the people who rant about Ron Hainsey or David Vyborny should watch one of these games some time and discover the beauty and joy of the sport.

But Arace made a lot new friends in the Denver area who dispute his reporting of the Adam Foote escape. A lot of them site Bob McKenzie’s account of the escape and many wish that Arace would name his sources. I wouldn’t mind knowing who Arace’s “unnamed” player or NHL sources are, but I have a basic understanding of why he didn’t name them. Anyway, I’ve read a lot of McKenzie columns over the years and I notice that the same sources are sited by him.

I have yet to hear from Adam Foote himself, a clearing of the air, or a demand for an Arace retraction. In this post-Roger Clemens era, I don’t think a retraction demand will be forth-coming. So I think the issue is dead.

What did piss me off were some of the comments about the Columbus organization. So here I go: Colorado fans, we here in Columbus are doing something that you didn’t have to do and that is building a team from scratch. We didn’t have the luxury of a team spending ten years getting the kinks worked out and then relocating to our area. No, we don’t have any banners hanging in our rafters nor do we have a Joe Sakic. It will take a few more years before we can hang something and I think Rick Nash or Pascal Leclaire will be regular all-stars, maybe as good as Sakic. But the team tried to sign Adam Foote and then when they couldn’t, they granted his request and sent him to you. A writer for The Dispatch is the person who published an account of the Foote escape, not Scott Howson or John McConnell.

Anyway, that is the last you will hear from me regarding Adam Foote. Until he comes back next season.

-Truth Serum

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Foote Faults

March 3, 2008

By now, everyone in the known hockey world of Central Ohio has an opinion on Adam Foote. He is either the biggest fraud who ever suited up for the CBJ or the most unappreciated athlete to play here. I have a few ideas, but what I wish is that the whole issue would just go away.

Adam Foote was paid a lot of money, by anyone’s standards, to play hockey here and to give 100%. The fact that he felt he didn’t want to be here without a new contract in place is a little disturbing. The best thing he could have done was to show the rest of the NHL that he still has the drive and talent of an elite NHL defenseman by leading the Blue Jackets to their best finish ever. He could point to the progress of the team and confidently say that he was one of the prime reasons the team improved. It would be hard to argue with him. Besides, he was paid $4.6 million to do this.

There is a claim that Foote said he would be a bad teammate if he didn’t get his way. I don’t know if he really said this, but this is very similar to an anonymous quote that The Dispatch ran last year when they piled on Nikolai Zherdev. Did they unwittingly reveal a secret?

If you side with Foote, you have to admit that he is taking a tremendous risk by going back to Colorado. The team is fighting for a playoff spot and battling low attendance. What if they don’t make the playoffs? Will they come to Foote and say, “You know, we really appreciate you coming here to help us make the playoffs and even though it didn’t work out, we’re going to give you a two year contract at $3.5 million per year just to say thanks.” I don’t know about you, but if I were an Avalanche fan watching the 2008 NHL Draft and see Columbus go to the podium a second time during the first round and I don’t even have a playoff memory, I might not be too happy. I might not like the fact that my team didn’t make the playoffs and is much older now.

Adam Foote did play better hockey this season with the Blue Jackets. He doesn’t have the numbers to show for it, but the team is doing better and he stopped taking as many stupid penalties like he did in previous years. He was insurance for the Rusty Klesla brain cramps and he gave them a lot of quality minutes for a 36 year-old.

I don’t know if he was a leader or a take charge guy. There is a difference and sometimes they can be the same person, but this team has been searching for a leader since it was formed. They had some guys who were capable of leadership before Foote, but Doug MacLean suffocated them. Foote probably did fill the vacuum in the dressing room, but who was there to challenge him?

If Foote is looking to go back to the past, he has to remember that even though he played on two Cup winners, he was not in the first pair of defensemen. Uwe Krupp and Sandis Ozolinsh were the guys on the first team and Ray Bourque and Rob Blake on the second team. Can Adam Foote and his ego accept a reduced role on this tour of duty with Colorado?

I am convinced that Foote was duped with empty promises by Doug MacLean to sign here. He probably held his nose and signed the contract. But the contract paid him $4.6 million and you can easily put up with some shortcomings with that amount of money. Colorado did take him for granted and would not match the MacLean offer.

He is gone now. Maybe he will be ready to participate in the entire training camp with Colorado, something he never got around to in Columbus. Maybe we will get a stud with his draft pick, maybe we won’t. I just hope he can take the booing if he comes back to Columbus to play.

-Truth Serum