Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Michael Arace of the Columbus Dispatch,
Maybe this is the year. Maybe this is the year when fortune smiles on the Blue Jackets, but it is hard to imagine. The hockey gods have been playing with Jackets fans since they opened the doors to Nationwide Arena.
The Blue Jackets lost a coin flip and Marian Gaborik on the eve of the 2000 draft. They acquired Gaborik 12 years later. We know what they gave up to get him. We know what they got when they traded him to the Los Angeles Kings. That is Jackets’ history in a nutshell. It is marked by misfortune and blunder.
Maybe this is the year. Good luck and sobriety have to stumble into Nationwide Arena at some point, no? How much more can fans take?
from Michael Arace of the Columbus Dispatch,
Years ago, a stupid columnist (ahem) described Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards as having the personality of drapery, which is not only unduly cheap, it is flat wrong. Richards simply knows who he is, which is small-town Minnesota. He is a Friday night fish fry at the supper club, cold beer within reach.
There is a facile mind behind this humble facade.
On Friday morning, Richards was asked whether he’d ever held the keys to such a fine automobile. He was asked whether expectations — on him — have risen.
He said, “I tell people this: We finished, what, 23rd last year in the league. And in a five-month period, we went from 23rd to ninth in the power rankings — and we haven’t even played a game. We haven’t even stepped on the ice.”
He said, “I guess if I’m sitting on a lot and I’m looking at a car, right now the car looks pretty nice on the outside. But to me now the question is: What’s under the hood? That gets into the potential. What’s under the hood? Right now, on paper, it looks pretty good, and the question is how are we going to come together as a group, and how are we going to play as a team.”
That is a primo answer to a metaphorical question.
from Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch,
The Blue Jackets had the fifth-best power play in the NHL last season, so it’s not as if an overhaul was in order.
But the off-season acquisition of left wing Brandon Saad and an abundance of skilled forwards gave coach Todd Richards and his staff a bold idea when it comes to the man advantage.
“This could be a ton of fun,” Blue Jackets center Ryan Johansen said, smiling and nodding.
The Blue Jackets plan to use four forwards and a 1-3-1 alignment on certain power plays this season, a setup that trades a little risk for the promise of a high reward.
“We may have tried (a 1-3-1) when I played junior, but even then I think we had two defensemen,” Johansen said. “Four forwards. It’ll be quick-moving and offensive-thinking, that’s for sure.”
from Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch,
Those close to Johnson say he has taken control of his life, finances included, since he met and was engaged to Kelly Quinn, the younger sister of former Notre Dame and Cleveland Browns quarterback Brady Quinn. Johnson and Quinn were married this summer.
Among other things, Johnson has been reunited with Pat Brisson, one of the NHL’s most respected agents. Johnson fired Brisson in 2008 and turned over financial control to his parents. But not everyone believes Johnson was a victim.
Maurice Taylor, a former basketball player and acquaintance of Johnson’s at the University of Michigan, has worked with RFF Family Partnership and once advised Johnson on his finances.
“I think Jack’s trying to save face by putting this on his parents,” Taylor said on Friday night. “While he’s blaming it on them, he’s not taking any action toward them. They are, together, trying to pull the wool over creditors’ eyes.”...
If Johnson is found guilty of conspiring with his parents or of lying on his bankruptcy filing, he could face a variety of federal fraud charges. And if convicted, he could face jail time, said David S. Weinstein, a former assistant U.S. attorney who specializes in financial fraud investigations.
from Rick Westhead of TSN,
Bankrupt NHL star defenceman Jack Johnson is accused of being in cahoots with his parents in taking out a string of high-interest loans.
RFF Family Partnerships, a California-based marketing company which is among Johnson’s largest creditors in his bankruptcy case, accuses the Columbus Blue Jacket of committing “false representation and/or actual fraud” during the year-old case.
Johnson shocked the hockey world nearly a year ago when he filed for bankruptcy, disclosing that he had amassed more than $10 million worth of debt. In an even more startling twist, Johnson said his parents were to blame for his financial distress.
COLUMBUS, OHIO - The Columbus Blue Jackets have signed defenseman David Savard to a five-year contract extension that begins in 2016-17 and continues through the 2020-21 National Hockey League season, club General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen announced today. As is club policy, terms were not disclosed.
Savard, 24, set career highs and led Blue Jackets defensemen in goals and ranked second in points with 11 goals and 25 assists for 36 points with 71 penalty minutes and an “even” plus/minus rating in 82 games during the 2014-15 season.
His 11 goals were tied with Jamie Heward (2000-01) for the second-most in club history by a blueliner, trailing Bryan Berard’s 12 in 2005-06, while his 36 points were the fourth-most by a defenseman in club history. He also ranked second on the team in time on ice, averaging 22:56 per game.
"Getting David signed to a contract extension was a priority for us and we are very happy to have reached a long-term deal with him," said Kekalainen. "He has taken tremendous steps the past two seasons and responded very well to the larger role he played on our blueline last season. We are excited about his future with the Blue Jackets."
“I don’t really care what people think of our defense, to be honest. I respect everybody’s opinion, and they’re entitled to it, but I think it’s a good defense, and I think it has a chance to be a very good defense.”
-Jarmo Kekalainen, GM of the Columbus Blue Jackets. More on the Blue Jackets from Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch.
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
One of the great things about this time of the year, the days after players have started to drift back into NHL cities in anticipation of training camps starting in a matter of weeks, is to project, to dream, to imagine what might be.
And what better thing to imagine than which of the 30 teams will still be standing in June at the start of the Stanley Cup finals?
It is an exercise in fancy and maybe a little fancy stats with intuition and common sense thrown in, although we know that hat sense is oft-times uncommon come playoff time....
Nashville Predators versus Columbus Blue Jackets
When this matchup actually unfolds next spring, I will preface all coverage with “as first reported by ESPN.com.” Because it could happen. For a stretch last season Nashville was the best team in the NHL, led by Vezina Trophy finalist Pekka Rinne and two-time gold medalist and team captain Shea Weber. The Preds swooned down the stretch and were bounced in the first round by Chicago but should learn from that experience and once again be a playoff team in spite of the intense competition bound to unfold in the Central Division. Columbus, meanwhile, was last fall’s Eastern Conference darling but a rash of injuries dashed playoff hopes early. Still, the Blue Jackets played hard and were tied for the league lead in wins after March 1. Add Brandon Saad to an already hard-working, talented team and factor in former Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky in goal and this is a team ready to make noise.
Prediction: Columbus in 7; Scott Hartnell with the Cup-winner on a rare breakaway after the Nationwide Arena cannon inadvertently fires during a Nashville power play in double overtime.
four more matchups...
from Rob Mixer of BlueJackets.com,
A year ago at this time, the word was “faster.”
“We want to play faster,” Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said heading into the 2014-15 campaign. “And we need to play faster.”
It pertained to quicker thinking on the ice, quicker puck decisions and a variety of other factors that enabled the Blue Jackets to dictate the pace of the game and force their opponents to react. After this past season, Richards said he felt the team played faster, but thought they could take it to another level.
This year, he wants his players to think a little differently – he wants them to think about pressure. But not the external brand of pressure.
“We're going to use that word a lot," Richards told BlueJackets.com. "I think if you’re playing hard and pressuring the puck, then you’re playing faster already. When you have the depth that we have here, you should play with more pressure and play a faster game because you’re able to get good rest in between shifts, and that allows you to maintain a high level of play and a high level of speed in your team game.
“We’ve got great depth right now. This will be my fifth year in the organization, and I don’t remember ever having this type of depth. It’s a credit to the team and everyone upstairs, as far as drafting, restocking the cupboards with some young talent.”
from Craig Merz at NHL.com,
Will the season be spent chasing the playoffs? The Blue Jackets opened last season with four wins in six games, then injuries ravaged their roster; Columbus lost an NHL-high 508 man-games.
By the end of November, they were 6-15-2 and didn't make up much ground until it was too late. A 12-0-1 finish left them 42-35-5 and nine points back of the Pittsburgh Penguins for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference.
"We need to find better ways to maintain and not have major dips," Columbus coach Todd Richards said. "We might have injuries this year, and you've got to find ways to stay afloat instead of sinking."
In the previous three seasons, the Blue Jackets started 2-12-1, 5-12-4 and 5-10-0.
"It's pretty obvious you have to have a good start to have a successful season," defenseman Fedor Tyutin said. "That's going to be our team goal. We don't want to use injuries as an excuse. We still have good players here.
"That's something we're searching answers for, why we're having bad starts to the season."
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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