Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Rob Oller of the Columbus Dispatch,
The biggest offseason signing in Blue Jackets history—the face of the franchise, mind you—doesn’t score goals or play defense, isn’t much of a skater and struggles to move the puck. His weight hovers around 275 pounds, on a 5-foot-10ish frame, and the only time he has worn the C is when jokesters liken him to Captain Kangaroo.
This is the guy the Jackets are pinning their hopes on? Yes, and it’s hard to argue against them. Ken Hitchcock, who signed a threeyear extension yesterday to coach the Blue Jackets through the 2011-12 season, is more important to the team than any recent free-agent signing or draft pick.
Talked to agent Don Meehan today (Wednesday). He’s expecting to talk with Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson again on Thursday regarding goaltender Pascal Leclaire, and it sounds like the talks are heating up ... in a good way. It’s believed to be a three-year deal. Money is the issue, but they might be getting close.
I’ve been saying all along that Leclaire signing an offer sheet is unlikely. I still believe that’s the case. But if you’re looking for a candidate, look no further than the Colorado Avalanche. First off, the Avs have quite possibly the worst goaltending tandem in the NHL…
more on Columbus
from Jeff Z. Klein of Slap Shot at the NYT,
According to an article in Tuesday’s Sovietskiy Sport, KHL president and Gazprom export CEO Alexander Medvedev wants the Columbus Blue Jackets to compensate CSKA Moscow for the Jacks’ signing of 18-year-old first-round draft choice Nikita Filatov. When asked how much the compensation should come to, he answered, “At least half a million dollars.”
The Columbus Blue Jackets will hold a 12:30pm press conference today to announce a contract extension for Blue Jackets Head Coach Ken Hitchcock.
Update 1:27pm ET (alanah): Extension is for 3 years, till the end of the 2011-12 season. From the Blue Jackets—
“Signing Ken Hitchcock to this contract extension is another important step for the Columbus Blue Jackets as Ken is at or near the top of anyone’s list when it comes to NHL coaches,” said [GM Scott] Howson. “He has brought credibility, presence and structure to our team and is an integral part of the Blue Jackets’ identity. We are pleased to have stability for at least the next four years at the head coaching position.”
From Aaron Portzline at Puck-rakers in the Columbus Dispatch,
The Blue Jackets have agreed to terms with unrestricted free agent center Michael Peca, The Dispatch has learned.
Best guess here is it’s a two-year deal. It could be announced as soon as Tuesday. Apparently, there are some minor details to hammer out before it’s completed.
read on for other Columbus contract odds &ends
From the Columbus Blue Jackets:
The Columbus Blue Jackets signed center R.J. Umberger to a four-year contract, club General Manager Scott Howson announced July 7. As is club policy, terms were not disclosed.
Last month, Umberger was acquired by Columbus with a fourth round pick (118th overall) in the 2008 Entry Draft from the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for a first round pick (19th overall) and a third round pick (67th overall) in the same draft.
from Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch,
The Blue Jackets’ summer of significant change has made the club bigger, stronger, faster and nastier.
One word might sum it up: Hitchcockian.
From the day Scott Howson was hired as general manager more than a year ago, it was obvious he saw his dream hockey club through the same lens as coach Ken Hitchcock.
“We’re on the same page,” Howson said. “We have the same opinion on how you build a hockey club.”
Then we have a complaint from a Dispatch reader,
Mr. Stein: You people continue to show your financial interest in the Blue Jackets.
Do you really believe the sports masses in central Ohio are interested in names of hockey players, whom most of us could not pronounce, in a two-page spread (last Sunday)? Yawn. Also, there was an inordinate amount of space dedicated to the NHL draft when not too many folks are interested.
from Michael Arace of the Columbus Dispatch,
As Tom Reed of The Dispatch reported this week, a twist of the collective bargaining agreement has shorn 25 percent of league-sponsored subsidies due the Jackets. This is a small-market American franchise that can be a great asset to the league at-large. And league subsides are being cut at a time when they’re needed most.
Not only is this senseless, it impugns the memory of Mr. Mac. He was neither a perjurer nor a swindler. He knew hockey would work here. He knew what he was getting into, but he no doubt was promised help. Isn’t that why the league acceded to a crippling lockout?
Bettman has done many good things, his radio show notwithstanding. His vision of the game as continental, if not worldwide, might have its flaws. But it also holds some promise.
Right now he can’t spot a crook when he meets one, and there are strange and gaping cracks in a system that was only recently revamped. Bettman must swallow some of his hubris and tend to the problems for the sake of long-term prosperity for the league in general, and for the Blue Jackets specifically.
from Bob Hunter of the Columbus Dispatch,
Remember, this is about winning. Kristian Huselius, the free-agent forward the Jackets signed after the Zherdev trade, is talented and appears to be a better fit for Hitchcock than Zherdev was. Raffi Torres, a winger who came to the Jackets in the Brule deal with the Oilers, definitely is.
With hard-checking free-agent defenseman Mike Commodore, those two big Rangers puck-movers (Tyutin and Christian Backman) and former Flyers winger R.J. Umberger, it’s obvious the Jackets now have the kind of players Hitchcock and Howson want, even if they’re not necessarily the best ones.
This is going to be a much different Blue Jackets team than previous ones. Given the record, it isn’t such a bad thing.
The Blue Jackets are talking to center Michael Peca about returning to the club, The Dispatch has learned. A deal could be announced soon, NHL sources say, perhaps as early as today.
I talked to Peca this afternoon, and he confirmed his desire to join the Blue Jackets. He also said he wants to sign for more than one season and “be a part of something special.”
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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