Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Michael Arace of the Columbus Dispatch,
The Jackets a year ago had a similar record, and it was a mirage. This year, the reek of legitimacy is not necessarily measured on the ice, or in the standings. Really, it is in the stands. Everyone in the building last night knew the Jackets were merely adequate but, save for a few scary moments in the third period, nobody thought they were going to lose….
Jackets fans understand mirages because that is all they have seen since they picked up the damned flag. So it is they who know what is real.
“The lesson I’ve learned here,” Hitchcock said, “is you can go around in circles asking if Columbus is a hockey town. What this is is a blue-collar sports city. Look at all the favorites over the years—Tyler Wright, Kevin Dineen, Jody Shelley. It’s a blue-collar town. These folks know the difference between what is and is not real effort. We work hard, we hear it. We don’t work hard, we hear it. Loud and clear.”
from Rob Oller of the Columbus Dispatch,
Ken Hitchcock hopes his creditors don’t remember this column come May. Or if they do, that they extend him grace. Because if all goes well, the Blue Jackets coach will be too immersed in the playoffs this spring to concern himself with payoffs.
Or much of anything else, for that matter.
“Your life goes on hold. Your friends go on hold. Your family goes on hold. Everything outside of hockey goes on hold,” Hitchcock said. “The bills don’t get paid.”
from a Q & A fan chat at the Columbus Dispatch,
Aaron, you’ve been very clear that the Jackets will not enter the Spezza or Lecavilier sweepstakes. Give us a few names that we Blue Jackets fans may not have considered as possible acquisitions.
[Aaron Portzline] This is all guesswork, of course. But it’s players who fit the following criteria: a young player with upside, and a reasonable contract that extends beyond this season, or a veteran player who’s contract is up at the end of the season. Again, Antoine Vermette is a name that keeps popping up, but the asking price—Kris Russell and a pick—is way too high. The Leafs want too much for Nik Atropov, too. Well, more than the Blue Jackets are willing to part with. This is a strange science. All the talk of the last few weeks, and Jason Williams’ name never came up. I make calls around the league all the time. You do what you can do.
more about the Blue Jackets…
“We can see that we’re not just looking at, if we get lucky we might squeak in (the playoffs). We’re looking up and seeing that people are catch-able. We’re not pretending we’re in a race; we’re in a race, a battle and the players recognize (the situation). Games matter, every point is important and he’d be the first to recognize the complete change over in the fans. There’s a different atmosphere in the building and they have a sense of urgency, just as we do.”
-Columbus coach Ken Htichcock after defeating the Red Wings last night. More post-game quotes at ColumbusBlueJackets.com.
from Tom Reed of the Columbus Dispatch,
“Mike Babcock was without a doubt an obstacle in my career,” said Commodore of the coach who traded him from Anaheim to Calgary in 2003.
“I wanted to prove him wrong, I’m not going to lie. I used him as big-time motivation. I thought he put his best foot forward to bury me.”
Commodore’s perceived injustice—the kind that can be found in almost every NHL locker room—adds intrigue to the Blue Jackets-Red Wings rivalry. The outspoken defenseman now gets to face his former coach six times a season.
In one breath, Commodore says “it’s water under the bridge,” and in the next concedes, “I still get fired up talking about it.”...
“The only thing I ever questioned about Mike was his conditioning,” Babcock said. “In my mind, Mike always has been a quality guy. When he came up, I didn’t think he was in condition. That’s it.”
from Bob Hunter of the Columbus Dispatch,
The numbers (ratings) seem to say a couple of things: Local fans have noticed that this year’s team is better than last year’s squad, which competed hard but lacked the depth of talent to be in the race, and they’re increasingly interested in the good story lines (Benedict Foote), strong opponents (Calgary) and players worth watching (Washington’s Alex Ovechkin, whose Capitals drew a 2.35 rating).
If form holds true, the best ratings are going to come after the All-Star break. And if this team continues to trend upward, we might soon discover what a lot of people said nine years ago:
If the Blue Jackets ever have a good team, this is going to be one heck of a hockey market.
via Tom Reed of Puck-rakers,
R.J. Umberger had a strong game with two goals and nearly a third midway through the third period. And if that wasn’t enough he was hammered from behind by Dion Phaneuf in the first period, drawing a game misconduct for boarding. Umberger smacked his cheek hard against the glass, but said he was mostly just dazed.
“I’m lucky I was so close to the boards,” he said. “If I were a little further out, I could have been in trouble.”
COLUMBUS, OHIO – Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Pascal Leclaire will undergo surgery on his injured ankle and is expected to be sidelined 10 to 12 weeks, club General Manager Scott Howson announced today. The surgery is scheduled to take place on Friday and will be performed by Dr. Brian Donley at The Cleveland Clinic.
Leclaire, 26, has appeared in 12 games this season and posted a 4-6-1 record with a 3.83 goals-against average and .867 save percentage. He originally suffered the injury in a preseason game vs. the Minnesota Wild on October 3. He missed eight games earlier this season due to the injury and last played in a game on December 18 at Dallas.
from Tom Reed of the Columbus Dispatch,
On a club developing chemistry in adverse times, the tightest bond might be the one between coach and general manager.
Hitchcock and Howson don’t always agree, but they share a similar vision for the franchise, one coming into focus during an 8-3 run that has the Jackets in the thick of the playoff race.
“You never know how it’s going to work when you bring people together. There is always a risk,” said Howson, in his second season as Jackets general manager.
“I think we respect each other’s positions. He cares about winning the next game, and my focus is more long term. But he respects the intricacies of the position. He understands you can’t just wave a magic wand.”
COLUMBUS, OHIO – The Columbus Blue Jackets have activated left wing Rick Nash off injured reserve and have assigned forward Craig MacDonald to the Syracuse Crunch, Columbus’ American Hockey League affiliate, club General Manager Scott Howson announced January 18.
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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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