Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch,
With their losses mounting and the season slipping away, the Blue Jackets are taking a new approach to their goaltending.
Before practice yesterday, coach Ken Hitchcock informed the club that Steve Mason no longer is the club’s undisputed No. 1 goaltender.
Mathieu Garon will start at 9 tonight against the Phoenix Coyotes. If he plays well, Garon will keep playing, too, not resort to the backup role he’s held up to this point.
“Win and you’re in,” Hitchcock said. “That’s just where we’re at now. If a guy wins, he gets to keep going.
“We can’t wait any longer to get going.”
from Michael Arace of the Columbus Dispatch,
I do not believe that firing Hitchcock, at this juncture, would be an intelligent move.
I do not believe the players have quit on Hitchcock. The 2001-02 Dallas Stars and the 2006-07 Philadelphia Flyers quit on him. There are no signs that there is any sort of revolt afoot in Columbus. If anything, the Jackets still buy into the coach’s message. They might roll their eyes in the next video session, but they will understand the message, and they will believe in it.
I believe the Jackets need a defenseman, and an enforcer, and that Howson must address these concerns. I believe that, other than some tinkering, the answers to the present problems are largely within the grasp of the players in the locker room.
After the loss in Denver, the Jackets find themselves on a 2-9-5 jag.
I think they lost their identity and suffered a crisis of confidence.
I do not think it is the end of the world.
from Tom Reed of the Columbus Dispatch,
Blue Jackets prospect Nikita Filatov regrets some of the comments he made after leaving the club a month ago, while saying that others were taken out of context.
But the 19-year-old winger, who went home to Russia unhappy after being unable to earn substantial ice time under coach Ken Hitchcock, stands by one of his primary reasons for departing.
“I got my own opinion about Hitch and about what I think he thinks of me,” Filatov wrote in an e-mail to The Dispatch. “I am not going to let everybody know about it. I think it’s pretty clear that he didn’t give (me) a chance and opportunity to prove that I can play.”
from Rob Oller of the Columbus Dispatch,
Hitchcock sees it as his job to educate these lads. So he explains. And explains. Unfortunately for him, the attention span of a 19-year-old twitters out at 140 characters.
So the issue with Hitchcock is not that he ignores young players, a reputation that he feels is undeserved, but that they ignore him.
Young talent especially tunes out when it thinks it knows it all. That occurs when the team is winning, which creates a stress point because Hitch’s toughest teachings follow wins, when he talks of exposing the hard truths.
“It’s an attitude of you win and you want to get better, rather than we won and ‘Aren’t we good?’ What I want to do is help players win, and have them come back in the room the next day and ask, ‘Where do we get better?’ That’s what great teams do.”
The problem with such harping is it wears on young players who want to run free, who want to enjoy the wins instead of learn from them, which might explain why the Jackets (14-14-6) have stumbled after a 12-6-2 start.
from Aaron Portzline of Puck-rakers,
“We’d like to add to our defense with (Rostislav Klesla) going down to an injury,” Howson said. “But we’re not close right now on anything.
“The (trade) market is tough. It’s as tough as it’s ever been, with so many long-term contracts out there, with so many clubs up against the salary cap, and with so many clubs still thinking they’re in the playoff race. It’s hard to get any movement on a trade right now. It’s hard to shake anything loose.”
Howson said nothing is imminent, that the groundwork for a trade hasn’t even been put into place. And it’s not just the Blue Jackets. Nothing seems to be shaking for anybody right now, and the NHL roster freeze kicks in on Dec. 19.
more on the Blue Jackets…
from Michael Arace of Puck-rakers,
Is anyone else feeling like they’ve been transported back to 2004? Holy sheep shank. The Jackets are stringing together some absolutely brutal performances – particularly against teams that can skate – and tonight brought another dismal outing.
The Nashville Predators defeated the Jackets 5-3 before a small band of ticked-off hard-cores in Nationwide Arena. Home ice. Archrivals in town. No forecheck. Awful. There was a crowd of 12,856 on hand, and half the folks were shuffling for the exits, heads bowed, with 7 minutes remaining. The rest stayed to boo after the final horn.
“I’d boo too,” defenseman Mike Commodore said.
Derek Dorsett of the Blue Jackets breaks his right hand in this fight last night with Mike Brown of the Ducks.
ST. LOUIS – St. Louis Blues President John Davidson announced today the club has acquired forward Pascal Pelletier from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Brendan Bell and Tomas Kana.
Pelletier, 26, has played in 25 games this season with the American Hockey League’s (AHL) Syracuse Crunch, recording 16 points (three goals, 13 assists) and 23 penalty minutes. Last season, the 5-11, 197-pound left winger notched 55 points (29 goals, 26 assists) and 45 penalty minutes in 71 games with Rockford of the AHL. Pelletier led the team in goals and power play goals and was second on the club in points.
“Basically, he had trouble handling the success he had last year. Maybe it’s not as easy as he thought it was.
He needs to make sure “he doesn’t forget where he is and how much of a privilege it is to be here,”
-Columbus goaltender coach Dave Rook on Steve Mason. More from Scott Burnside plus other NHL topics…
from Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch,
“Hitch is safe,” Howson said. “To suggest otherwise is just ludicrous. It has not even entered anybody’s mind. It’s not something we’d even consider.”
Hard to believe, but Hitchcock—hired by the Blue Jackets on Nov. 22, 2006—is the sixth-longest tenured coach in the NHL, trailing only Randy Carlyle of Anaheim, Lindy Ruff of Buffalo, Mike Babcock of Detroit, Barry Trotz of Nashville and Alain Vigneault of Vancouver.
“I’m like most coaches,” Hitchcock said. “I worry about (getting fired) each and every week. I always feel like I’m one bad week away from being in trouble. As a coach, that’s what helps you keep your edge.”
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.
Email Paul anytime at email@example.com