Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Jim Kelley of Sports Illustrated,
No GM is going to send a coach off into his good night with the reputation of not being able to work with kids. That’s why you hear things like “the team was not progressing” even though many of the players currently on the St. Louis and Columbus rosters were simply going through the learning experience that comes with having success early and then falling back as teams play against them with greater intensity.
Still, you have to wonder if Murray or Hitchcock will get another chance in the now youth-conscious NHL. You also have to wonder if once the Blue Jackets move past Noel (or the 54-yer old shows them that he can relate to their kids), Howson won’t be placing a call to Filatov.
Mother Russia looks nice right now, but NHL money, a spot on Nash’s wing and no one harping about defensive play can be a powerful lure…especially for a GM who has lost a potential franchise player.
from Tom Reed of the Columbus Dispatch,
“I’m pretty much in shock,” Umberger said. “It’s a really tough thing to swallow. Hitch has done so much for my career. As a player, you feel like you let him down.”
Several players agreed and said they also are to blame for the team’s poor showing a season after reaching the playoffs for the first time.
Hitchcock’s demanding style and penchant for overloading players, especially young ones, with information likely contributed to his ouster. Some players appeared overwhelmed by the endless meetings and mixed messages.
Prized prospect Nikita Filatov returned to Russia in November, citing differences with Hitchcock. Youngsters such as Brassard and Voracek, goalless in the past 24 games, looked to be regressing. But Brassard was one of several players interviewed last night who had praise for Hitchcock.
“I respect that he tried to help me and all the young guys,” Brassard said. “He was really patient with us. Some guys will say he was not right for the young players, and he was hard on us. He knew what we were about to face, and he was getting us to be NHL players.”
COLUMBUS, OHIO – The Columbus Blue Jackets have relieved Head Coach Ken Hitchcock of his duties behind the bench and named Assistant Coach Claude Noel as the club’s interim head coach, club General Manager Scott Howson announced today.
Noel, 54, joined the Blue Jackets as an assistant coach on June 28, 2007 after spending four seasons as the head coach of the American Hockey League’s Milwaukee Admirals. During that time, he led the club to a 183-94-12-31 regular season record, three 100-point seasons and two West Division titles. He also compiled a 33-21 record in the Calder Cup Playoffs, including two appearances in the Finals (2004, 2006). During the 2003-04 season, the club compiled a 46-24-7-3 record and went 16-6 in the playoffs en route to capturing the organization’s first Calder Cup championship. That year, Noel was named the AHL’s Coach of the Year.
“This season has been very disappointing for the Blue Jackets organization and our fans and the responsibility for that rests with all of us from management to the coaches and players,” said Howson. “Hitch worked tirelessly to build an identity for this team that was missing before he arrived and deserves a great deal of credit for those efforts. He earned and received the opportunity to turn things around this season, but unfortunately that has not happened and it has become apparent that change is in the best interest of our organization. Claude Noel is a good hockey coach with a proven track record in the American Hockey League. He knows our team and is deserving of this opportunity.”
from Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch,
One month and one day from the NHL trade deadline, all signs point to Blue Jackets left winger Raffi Torres being traded to a playoff contender in exchange for draft picks or prospects.
As of yesterday, the Blue Jackets and Torres’ agent, Eustace King, had not discussed, even preliminarily, a contract extension that would prevent Torres from becoming an unrestricted free agent July 1….
The Blue Jackets, who play the Colorado Avalanche at 9 tonight in the Pepsi Center, would like to keep Torres, too, but money likely will be an issue.
from Tom Reed of the Columbus Dispatch,
“My intention today was to practice and not do anything (Saturday),” coach Ken Hitchcock said. “After the meeting got going, there was tremendous dialogue (between Hitchcock and players), and I didn’t want to extend it any further.”
In an hour’s time yesterday, the Jackets’ schedule went from having practice to canceling it to conducting the first two-man optional in recent memory—all from a team that has won nine times since Nov. 19 and has faded from the Western Conference playoff picture.
The Blue Jackets are not only losing, but losing by decisive margins. Only Toronto and Tampa Bay have incurred more losses by three goals or more (14) than the Blue Jackets (13), according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Resilience has not been a strong suit. When the opposition gains an upper hand, these Jackets are tapping out.
“I don’t think of this as a step back. I made one mistake. You guys (in the media) can jump all over that if you want. I played well the rest of the way, so …”
-Columbus goaltender Steve Mason (via Aaron Portzline of Puck-rakers) on the Eric Belanger goal he gave up last night, which could be considered a weak goal.
from Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch,
The Dispatch asked two former NHL goaltenders, Daryl Reaugh and Ron Tugnutt, for their views on Mason’s season, the changes he needs to make and what his future might hold.
Reaugh, who played from 1984 to ‘91 with Hartford and Edmonton, does color commentary for the Dallas Stars. Tugnutt was active from 1987 to 2004 for a variety of clubs, including the Blue Jackets in their early years. He coaches goaltenders for a junior team in Oshawa, Ontario.
• What he sees: “Last season, he would get to his spot, stand there and defy guys to beat him. Now, rather than going to the spot he believes in and challenging the shooter, he’s going to that spot and he’s leaving that spot for no apparent reason. And when you chase the puck, you beat yourself. It’s a function of not trusting the defensive play in front of you. You’re worried about the shooter, but also the other guy whose lane might not be covered by your d-man.”
from Stephen Harris of the Boston Herald,
The Bruins [team stats] last night committed one of the cardinal sins of team sports: They let a team they should have been put away much earlier hang around and hang around - allowing a dreadful officiating call to decide the game at the end.
The word “dreadful” isn’t really sufficiently descriptive of the call by one or both referees, Tom Kowal or Dean Morton, that led to Columbus’ power-play goal with 1:31 left last night at the Garden, giving the Blue Jackets a 3-2 victory.
It was such a bad call, NHL officiating supervisor Mick McGeogh hurried down to Claude Julien’s office after the game and apologized to the B’s coach.
“The supervisor came in and apologized to us,” said Bruin general manager Peter Chiarelli. “He said it was a mistake. At least that was good of them to admit it.”
continue for more on the game…
from Michael Arace of the Columbus Dispatch,
Management will leave room for a miracle but look forward with sobriety, which is to say that general manager Scott Howson will be selling when the trade deadline arrives March 3. Torres is in the final year of his contract. So are Milan Jurcina and Fredrik Modin, although Modin has a no-trade clause. These veterans have value, and, absent playoff contention, they should be dealt.
What will the Jackets get in return for, say, Torres? They won’t get the elite center or puck-moving defenseman they have craved for the entirety of their existence. They will get prospects and draft picks. So it goes. The long-range good of the franchise demands that assets be salvaged when and where possible.
There is a chance the Jackets will work out a contract extension with Torres before the trade deadline. But such shotgun negotiations normally do not fare well.
from Tom Reed of the Columbus Dispatch, T
he last time Rick Nash went 11 games without scoring a goal, the Blue Jackets winger was a rookie playing on a line with Mike Sillinger and Grant Marshall.
In the fall of 2002, the baby-faced Nash was making $1.2 million a season for a fledgling franchise while most of central Ohio was enamored of the promise of another 18-year-old, named Maurice Clarett.
Times, fortunes and expectations have changed.
The Blue Jackets enter today’s game against Chicago as an underachieving club searching for goals and wins. During one of their worst stretches, Nash has struggled right alongside his teammates.
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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