Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,
Figuring that there’s no such thing as too much hockey knowledge, coach Mike Babcock gladly said yes when Ken Hitchcock called and asked whether he could come to Detroit Red Wings training camp.
Hitchcock, whose NHL head coaching experience includes stints in Dallas, Philadelphia and Columbus, was at Centre Ice Arena today and will remain here through Tuesday’s scrimmage in what can best be described as a symbiotic relationship.
“Hitch phoned me and said, ‘I want to learn, can I come to your camp?,’” Babcock said. “I phoned Kenny Holland and said, ‘He wants to learn, but I want to learn, too—can he come to our camp?’ It’s more to deal with the coaches—talk to our coaches, talk to me. I’ve worked with him. Evaluate me, evaluate the coaches—what can we do better?”
“I have something to prove this year, I know that. I have to prove that I’m not done. People said a lot of things about me last year, and I’m sure they’re still saying some of it. That’s fine. That’s more motivation.”
-Mike Commodore of the Columbus Blue Jackets. More on Commodore from Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch.
from Steph Greegor of The Other Paper (Columbus),
The first time I ever met Columbus Blue Jacket R.J. Umberger, he was half naked in the locker room. Same goes for Mike Commodore and Jared Boll.
The sheer willpower it took for me—initially—to maintain eye contact while trying desperately to focus on what I was supposed to ask them (because I was new, not because they were half-naked) was impressive.
I’m a professional reporter, but I’m also a woman. The shirtless men in my presence after a hockey game most certainly did not go unnoticed. I had interviewed many people in my lifetime that were in varying degrees of nakedness and compromising positions, but I had never interviewed a man in his Under Armors, shirtless, while 20 other men mingled around me similarly attired.
from Michael Arace of the Columbus Dispatch,
What is the Jackets’ culture? Winning is about 36 percent of it.
In three days, the team opens training camp in preparation for its 10th season. The lack of excitement is overwhelming.
The biggest events of the summer:
• Scott Arniel, who is a household name in exactly one household, was hired as the new coach.
• Bob Boughner left his junior-league franchise to join Arniel’s staff, and it was presented as an unbelievable coup, as if Dean Acheson were just added to the cabinet.
• Ethan Moreau, a forward who will turn 35 next week, was claimed off waivers.
Granted, hiring a new coach is not inconsequential. It should also be said that the Jackets already have roughly $54 million committed to the payroll, management believes in its roster, and general manager Scott Howson has hinted he might make a move for a defenseman. Nudge-nudge, wink-wink, zzzzzz
from Tom Reed of Puck-rakers,
The Blue Jackets are still feeling the affects of arguably their most disappointing season in franchise history.
The club confirmed to the Dispatch its season ticket sales are down 24.5 percent from a year ago. The organization has sold 7,700 season subscriptions to date—or 2,500 fewer than last year….
Jackets alternate captain R.J. Umberger said the club has to give fans a reason to pack Nationwide Arena.
“You can’t really blame them almost,” Umberger said of fan frustration. “They want to see a winning team. They pay a lot of money to come to the games and they want to see a good performance.
“If we’d been in the league 70 years and had eight Stanley Cups or some history, it might be a different story if you have a couple of bad years. We’re still trying to establish ourselves as an organization and city in this league.
from Aaron Portzline of Puck-rakers,
Get ready to hear the phrase “Hardcore Hockey” this season. Nobody with the Blue Jackets has uttered it publicly yet (to our knowlege), but that statement hangs in at least three places in and around the Blue Jackets’ dressing room.
Not bad, actually. I’d put it ahead of “Ignite The Night” and behind “Carry The Flag”, but that’s just shooting from the hip.
Every day, it seems, new coach Scott Arniel’s dressing-room makeover takes another step forward. Wonder when the wet bar will be added to the pressbox?
continue for a little more and some rookie tournament talk too…
from Aaron Portzline of Puck-rakers,
Blue Jackets coach Scott Arniel obviously knows the game of hockey and the NHL, having played the sport as a professional for 17 seasons. He has a decade of coaching experience, the last four seasons as a head coach in the American Hockey League. No question he’s ready and qualified to guide an NHL club.
But think about the message sent when the fourth-worst club in the NHL makes exactly one roster change the following off-season, and that change is claiming a third- or fourth-line winger (Ethan Moreau) off waivers.
Basically, the message is that Ken Hitchcock is to blame for all that ailed the Blue Jackets in 2009-10, that a fresh, energetic, uplifting approach from the new coach and his similarly dispositioned assistants can make up 16 points and six spots in the Western Conference standings.
Arniel plans to play a puck-possession, high-tempo style that most players prefer, a style that is in stark contrast to the retreat-and-react style drummed home the previous three-plus seasons in Columbus.
via Bob Hunter of the Columbus Dispatch,
Goaltender Steve Mason and forward Jake Voracek are entering the last year of their entry-level deals, which means that since July 1, the Blue Jackets have been able to sign them to extensions. But general manager Scott Howson isn’t talking about the matter.
It doesn’t matter. The Blue Jackets believe that Mason is going to be a franchise goaltender, so his sophomore slump works to the club’s advantage. If Mason had followed the 2008-09 season, when he won the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie, with another big year, he might have been looking at $6 million per season. Now, it’s probably half that.
The team’s personnel people think that Voracek will ultimately be a point-a-game guy, so they will try to lock him up long term before he becomes that. The question is whether Voracek will opt for a little more security or take a chance that a big year is coming up. The argument in favor of Voracek waiting is that he could end up on the first line with Rick Nash and Antoine Vermette, which could inflate his totals.
It’s easy to see why Howson wouldn’t want to discuss this in public.
from Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch,
The best chance for Hitchcock to be hired as a coach now - even he admits this - is during the 2010-11 season, when, inevitably, an NHL team fires its coach after a slow start.
But the Blue Jackets won’t wait that long. Priest and Howson have had general discussions about Hitchcock in recent weeks, and they plan to begin hammering out details of his new job when Hitchcock returns to Columbus late this week.
It’s a matter they want settled before training camp opens Sept. 17, Howson said. Many are treading lightly on the subject.
“As long as he’s under contract with us, we’ll find something for him to do that brings value to our organization,” Priest said.
But nobody’s quite sure what that will entail, though there are at least a handful of possibilities.
“I’ll wait for Mike or Scott to come tell me,” Hitchcock said. “I have my own plans of what I would like to do, but I don’t want to step on anybody’s toes or be in the way.”
via Tom Reed of Puck-rakers at the Columbus Dispatch,
The Blue Jackets offered no players from their NHL roster in trade talks with Toronto for Tomas Kaberle, the Dispatch has learned. This is hardly surprising given that Kaberle had only one season remaining on his deal. (Some of the projected proposals—i.e. Jake Voracek—were entertaining.) It’s believed the Jackets’ offer was centered around draft picks and prospects. While Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke said he was looking for a top-6 forward—hey, there’s nothing wrong with putting that out in the media, right?—it’s thought he was amenable to draft picks or prospects or a combination of both.
Clearly, Burke did not get what he wanted from the Jackets or anyone else. Who knows what happens next, but Kaberle holds the hammer with his no-trade clause. Remember, last season at the trade deadline, when given a chance to play for a playoff contender, Kaberle reportedly submitted a list of three teams where he would agree to be traded. Three teams. Kaberle is like George Costanza refusing to leave Play Now no matter how hostile a work environment management creates.
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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