Kukla's Korner Hockey
How bad are things in Columbus for this season?
They’re selling buy one, get one free tickets for a visit by the Detroit Red Wings on opening night. And a free shirt. And a free hot dog. And a free soda. And free popcorn.
-Greg Wyshynski of Puck Daddy where you can read more on the Blue Jackets ticket situation.
from Michael Arace of the Columbus Dispatch,
A pair of 24-year-olds, Steve Mason and Sergei Bobrovsky, will share that duty until one of them wins the net. Coach Todd Richards has been clear about riding whoever is winning. Both goalies have had hot spells during their short careers. Both have gone cold.
Mason appeared to be a godsend — he won 33 games, had 10 shutouts and carried the Jackets to the playoffs in his rookie season of 2008-09 — but he has not been the same since. Statistically, his worst season was his last.
Bobrovsky’s story is similar to, if shorter than, Mason’s. Bobrovsky had a sterling rookie season for the Philadelphia Flyers in 2010-11 until he was benched in the playoffs. He came back with a record of 14-10-2 with a save percentage of .899 and a 3.02 goals-against average last season. (Those numbers were startlingly similar to Mason’s. And, by the way, the two are a combined 0-6 in the playoffs.)
With no expectations for the goaltenders, the position will make for a fascinating study in the coming months. The Jackets on Saturday begin a 99-day sprint. A goaltender or two can, conceivably, make the difference between eighth place and 15th. Mason and Bobrovsky have shown some potential. Can one or the other or both carry the Jackets?
The Chicago Blackhawks put up 101 points last season, good enough to be one of 10 teams in the NHL to crack the century mark. It didn't matter because, for the second straight season since winning the Stanley Cup, they were knocked off in the first round of the playoffs. The good thing for the Blackhawks is unlike in 2010-11, the season after a summer of being crushed by salary-cap constraints, they feel they know exactly what went wrong last season.
1. Will the goaltending duo of Corey Crawford and Ray Emery be good enough?
Crawford won 30 games last season, but it was a struggle as he allowed three or more goals in 27 of his 57 appearances in the regular season and in five of his six appearances in the playoffs. Instead of building on a strong finish to the 2010-11 season, he went backward with a 2.72 goals-against average, .903 save percentage and zero shutouts in 57 appearances.
Emery wasn't any better with a 2.81 GAA and .900 save percentage in 34 appearances. Crawford was supposed to cement himself as the clear-cut No. 1 in Chicago, but he hasn't done that yet. It appears he'll be given another chance this season to become that guy.
2. Is Patrick Kane going to mature and have a bounce-back season?
COLUMBUS, OHIO – Columbus Blue Jackets Executive Vice President and General Manager Scott Howson announced today that defenseman Ryan Murray will undergo surgery on his injured shoulder in the next two to three weeks and will be sidelined approximately six months. Murray, the captain of the Western Hockey League’s Everett Silvertips, was injured on November 16 in a game against the Victoria Royals.
Murray, 19, was the Blue Jackets’ first pick, second overall, in the 2012 NHL Draft. In 23 games with Everett this season, he had collected two goals and 15 assists for 17 points with 14 penalty minutes. In 191 WHL games, he has registered 22-99-121 with 121 penalty minutes and a +51 plus/minus rating. He also helped Canada capture a bronze medal at the 2012 World Junior Championships and was expected to represent his country at this year’s tournament in Russia.
from Michael Arace of the Columbus Dispatch,
From this perch in Columbus, one can only applaud the dopes conspiring to extend the NHL lockout, now in its 70th day. Another chunk of the season, as well as the All-Star Game that was scheduled for Nationwide Arena, were officially wiped out yesterday. Burn, baby, burn. One can argue that the next best thing for Blue Jackets fans would be to kill the whole season.
There is just one caveat, and it is an important one:
The lockout has been an economic detriment to our area and it has hurt some people who can least afford it.
According to a 2008 study by the John Glenn School of Public Affairs at Ohio State, the Blue Jackets and Nationwide Arena have generated in excess of $2 billion in economic activity since the arena doors opened. By this point, they are directly responsible for more than $1 billion in spending by out-of-town visitors — an important figure as it represents “new money” entering Downtown.
from Michael Arace of the Columbus Dispatch,
Suddenly, this lockout looks good. The Davidson family can get the lay of the land, figure out where they want to live and settle comfortably. More important, the man can roll up his sleeves and take measure of the operation. He can see what is on hand and decide what he wishes to add and subtract. He can clarify his vision and chart a direction. He has done this before, in the Mound City (Point of fact: A thousand years before the arch went up, St. Louis was known for its earthen mounds. Goodness, but I digress.)
Go ahead and wipe out the season. Davidson and his staff can have unfettered months to study, analyze and scout the minors, juniors and colleges in preparation for the draft. Remember, the Jackets have three first-round picks next year — their own as well as the Los Angeles Kings’ and the New York Rangers’. It could be a windfall.
Sitting out there is Nathan MacKinnon, the consensus No. 1 prospect and a potential franchise player. He is projected to be better than Rick Nash. So, why play games now? That could be dangerous.
The Jackets were the worst team in the league last season, but they are deeper now. What if they strung together a couple of winning streaks? What if Sergei Bobrovsky stops pucks? Their chance at winnin’ MacKinnon would dwindle. They would end up with Pascolai Picardatov.
from Jack Johnson's website,
I want to work! I’m a professional athlete and I want to play hockey! In my chosen profession, I don’t have until I am 60 or 70 years old to do this job. My window of opportunity to play professional hockey is limited. If I’m lucky, I can play until I’m 40. I have been training as a hockey player my entire life, and I know it is a privilege to play in the NHL. So each month, each week, and each game that is cancelled is an opportunity I will never get back. This is the case for every NHL player. I value every day in this job and take my commitment to my team very seriously. I give it my all every shift. I come to play every night and I leave it all on the ice. This is my responsibility as an individual, an athlete, and a professional. I have a duty to my team, the organization that has given me this opportunity, and the fans in the stands to give them my best at all times.
from Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch,
If there is a silver lining to the NHL lockout, John Davidson figures he can use the time to get settled in as the Blue Jackets’ new president of hockey operations. Without the fury of three or four games a week, Davidson can gauge the habits and personalities of his new staff and witness how the operation works inside Nationwide Arena.
But Davidson wouldn’t be here if the operation were working well.
The trials and tribulations have been many for the Blue Jackets, but last season was the capper. The Jackets spent to the roof of the NHL salary cap but sank to the bottom of the standings, enduring a season that started with four months of misery and exposed all of the club’s dysfunction and built-up disharmony.
Coaches asking media members to criticize players more and them less. Scouts lamenting that they’d gone several weeks without speaking to higher-ups in hockey operations. One player — Jeff Carter — playing as if he didn’t want to be there, and another — captain Rick Nash, of all people — asking to be traded.
If Doug MacLean left behind an oil spill when he was fired as president and general manager in 2007, his replacements — Mike Priest as president and Scott Howson as general manager — allowed the clean-up efforts to veer badly off course.
The Blue Jackets needed a savior.
from the Columbus Blue Jackets,
The Columbus Blue Jackets today announced the hiring of longtime National Hockey League executive, Hall of Fame broadcaster and former goaltender John Davidson as the club’s president of hockey operations. In a newly created role, Davidson will oversee all hockey operations activities for the organization and serve as an alternate governor to the NHL’s Board of Governors. He signed a multi-year contract with the club.
“This is a very exciting day for the Columbus Blue Jackets and our fans as John Davidson is a proven winner who brings a tremendous amount of experience, knowledge and leadership to our organization,” said Blue Jackets Majority Owner John P. McConnell. “We believe he is the perfect person to lead our hockey operations efforts.”
from Aaron Portzline of Puck-Rakers,
John Davidson, who has been involved with the NHL as a goaltender,broadcaster and executive since the 1970s and who spent the past seven seasons restoring the St. Louis Blues to prominence, is close to an agreement to join the Blue Jackets as president of hockey operations, The Dispatch has learned.
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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