Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Michael Arace of the Columbus Dispatch,
The Blue Jackets are the chic midsummer pick to leap the pack in the Eastern Conference. They ought to be. Expensive teams that are not the Philadelphia Flyers look good on paper, especially in July. And the Jackets are expensive.
The salary-cap ceiling for 2015-16 is $71.4 million. According to NHLnumbers.com, the Jackets have but $3.6 million in remaining cap space — and most of that is set aside as a “bonus cushion” (in case, say, Ryan Murray activates some bonus clauses in his entry-level contract).
In fact, the Jackets are one of the seven most expensive teams in the league. That might change as other teams fill out their rosters, but the bottom line is the Jackets’ bottom line. They are no longer a budget team. They have spent just about as much as any team can spend. We are not accustomed to this, not in our market.
So, Jackets fans ought to doff their cap to majority owner John P. McConnell. Whatever else one might say about the man, he has been willing to spend on talent. That is all one can ask of an owner. The rest is on management and on the players.
from Mark Williams of the Columbus Dispatch,
The sponsors attended sessions providing more information about digital-media trends and strategies, insights on Columbus sports fans and how to use the logo rights that they acquired as part of their sponsorship for marketing.
They also picked up fresh data about the Blue Jackets fan base, which have higher household incomes than the typical Columbus family and spend more on things like Internet purchases, cellphones and groceries.
Larry Hoepfner, executive vice president of business operations for the Blue Jackets, said the team’s goal is for sponsors to get more business because of their affiliation with the team.
“If we aren’t doing that, we aren’t doing our jobs,” he said.
The team’s No. 1 challenge is to continue to grow the fan base with more season ticketholders, casual fans coming to more games more often and to get people who’ve never been to a game to come, he said.
“We’ve got to find ways to get them to a game,” he said.
After an injury-plagued season in which the Blue Jackets missed the playoffs, this year’s team is positioned to be much better this season, said John Davidson, the team’s president of hockey operations, and other team officials.
“We’re really excited about our hockey club,” he told the sponsors. “Our team is going to be good, very good. So are a lot of other teams.”
from Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch,
Even now, three months after the Blue Jackets’ season ended, it’s staggering to consider the impact injuries had on it.
It was the cloud that formed before training camp opened (Nathan Horton’s back) and hovered until the final days, when even trade acquisitions David Clarkson and Rene Bourque were quickly injured and missed the final month.
That cloud has become an asterisk. As the hockey world slowly turns its eyes to next season, every projection involving the Blue Jackets seems couched with a qualifier.
The Blue Jackets should be able to compete in the Metropolitan Division … if they don’t lead the league in injuries again.
The Blue Jackets feature one of the NHL’s more formidable groups of forwards … if they can stay healthy.
Blue Jackets third-year defenseman Ryan Murray could redefine the club’s blue line … if he can stay in the lineup.
“It’s behind us now,” Blue Jackets president of hockey operations John Davidson said. “You hear what people say about our team, and a lot of people are excited to see what this group can do if we stay healthy. What we endured last season … it’s something I’ve never seen before, and I don’t ever want to go through it again. But it’s behind us now.”
“I like our club — a lot of people like our club — but we have to go out and perform. We haven’t proven anything to anybody yet.”
-John Davidson, president of the Columbus Blue Jackets. More on the Blue Jackets from Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch.
from John Dietz of the Chicago Daily-Herald,
If fans want to place blame anywhere, it should be with Saad, who said he allowed his agent to handle all contract negotiations with the Hawks.
Had he been willing to accept a deal in the $5 million range, he'd probably still be a Blackhawk. He'd hear that earsplitting national anthem 41 times a year, be playing in front of a packed house every night and on a team that figures to compete for the Stanley Cup year after year after year.
Instead, he wanted an extra $1 million a year. And that's his right. So now he's playing in Columbus.
Then there's Andrew Desjardins, who signed a two-year deal with the Hawks on Friday for less than he could have made elsewhere. He stayed for the chance to win and because he loves the city and the players in that locker room.
And he played here for less than four months.
"Obviously the desire for players is to win. That's why they play," Bowman said two days after the Hawks eliminated the Lightning in the NHL Final.
"So there's always that point -- what is enough for them and that's something I can't answer. That's always an individual thing.
"But we know that all of our guys that are here, that have been here for a long time, they all sacrificed. And they all took less money than they could have, because they wanted to be part of something special.
from Michael Arace of the Columbus Dispatch,
... after I read Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Rosenbloom’s piece entitled, “It’s my theory on the Blackhawks trading Brandon Saad, and I’m sticking to it.”
I could be wrong, but I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman consigned the young, talented, money-hunting winger to one of the NHL’s maximum security prisons.
Rosenbloom’s subject is the blockbuster trade consummated on Tuesday, when the Blackhawks swapped Saad — a 22-year-old burgeoning star — and two prospects to the Blue Jackets for Artem Anisimov, Marko Dano, Jeremy Morin, Corey Tropp and a fourth-round draft pick.
Again, I could be wrong, but Bowman not only changed on the fly when Saad’s side reportedly demanded $6 million a year, but he also seemed to send a message to other players who want to take a hard stance in negotiations. You can collect your jackpot in hockey’s hinterlands.
Such moves aren’t new in the NHL — all sports, actually. Teams have tried to punish players this way for years.
It’s why Buffalo, Winnipeg and Edmonton have existed in the NHL. It’s why Oakland and Jacksonville exist in the NFL. It’s why Sacramento and Philadelphia exist in the NBA. It’s why Cleveland exists, period....
... I was unaware that Chicagoans could be so arrogant.
Rosenbloom is punching down — which can be done, if one so chooses — from the City of Broad Shoulders. I love Columbus, where I have been content to raise a family. So, punch me. It has nothing to do with anything.
COLUMBUS, OHIO - The Columbus Blue Jackets have signed left wing Brandon Saad to a six-year contract through the 2020-21 National Hockey League season, club General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen announced today. As is club policy, terms were not disclosed. Saad was acquired by Columbus from the Chicago Blackhawks along with center Alex Broadhurst and defenseman Michael Paliotta on Tuesday.
Saad, 22, has posted 52 goals and 74 assists for 126 points with 44 penalty minutes and a +44 plus/minus rating in 208 career NHL games and added 15-19-34, 16 penalty minutes and is +16 in 67 career playoff games, helping Chicago win a pair of Stanley Cup championships in 2013 and 2015.
“Adding a player of Brandon's caliber is exciting for the Columbus Blue Jackets organization and our fans and we are extremely pleased to have reached this long-term commitment that assures he will be an important part of our team for years to come," said Kekalainen.
Well, who saw that coming? The Blackhawks had spent the past few months insisting that Brandon Saad would still be a Chicago player by the time the new season started, but that all stopped when the reigning Stanley Cup champions decided to trade the 22-year-old to the Columbus Blue Jackets as part of a seven-player deal. Joining Saad in moving to the Blue Jackets will be forward Alex Broadhurst and defenceman Michael Paliotta, with Columbus sending Artem Anisimov, Corey Tropp, Jeremy Morin and Marko Dano to Chicago, as well as a fourth-round selection in the 2016 Draft.
added 5:21pm, Columbus release is below...
from Rob Mixer of the Blue Jackets website,
The Blue Jackets have options. They are considered one of the more well-equipped teams to make noise this weekend, given that they have a few key items in their arsenal: salary cap space, a surplus of forwards under contract at the NHL level, and multiple picks to work with.
As of Thursday afternoon, GM Jarmo Kekalainen has six of the first 69 picks, including three second-rounders and two third-rounders.
“It seems to always heat up and the frequency of phone calls gets a little higher the closer you get to the draft,” Kekalainen said. “We’re about 24 hours away, a little more than that, and it’s starting to get there. We’ve been up since 7 (a.m.) this morning trying to figure out what we need to do, and how we need to get it done.”
Needless to say, plenty of folks will be watching the Blue Jackets – but don’t count on the GM to give any of his secrets away. Regarding speculation that he’s in discussions with the Arizona Coyotes to move up to No. 3 overall, Kekalainen smiled and politely declined comment.
“We’re working on all kinds of different scenarios,” Kekalainen said, diplomatically. “I’ve talked to every other team ahead of us to see if there’s a chance, what the chance might be, and what it would take. I think we’re in a good situation with what we have. We have a lot of forwards on our reserve list right now, too. It’s an exciting time for us.”
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.
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