Kukla's Korner Hockey
From Aaron Portzline at Puck-Rakers (Columbus Dispatch),
I’ve asked Ken Hitchcock this a number of times, and he won’t go there publicly, which I totally understand. But a lot of the players here don’t have it in them to compete in 82 games a year. Yeah, they have moments where they look capable, and they say the right things, but they just don’t have the heart and guts to do it. Every five or six games, they prove that.
The Jackets are under-talented, yes. We’ve written that a bunch of times. But a roster gutting needs to be done to bring in some hyper-energetic guys who have fire in their bellies and the confidence that they’re good enough to outplay players on playoff-caliber teams.
Let’s face it: we’ve see what a lot of these players can do, and it’s simply not good enough.
From Tom Reed at Puck-rakers,
You just knew the Jackets’ good health wouldn’t last. Goaltender Pascal Leclaire will miss at least the next two games with a possible concussion, coach Ken Hitchcock said. He was struck in the mask with a puck during pre-game warm-ups on Sunday.
Freddy Norrena will make his second straight start against Calgary on Tuesday night in Nationwide in what promises to be a testy game. [...]
Jackets’ winger David Vyborny is out for 7-to-10 days with a knee sprain. There was fear Sunday night that Vyborny’s season and possibly his Blue Jackets career might have been over.
And from TSN: “The Blue Jackets called up goaltender Dan LaCosta from the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL on an emergency basis.”
via Bob Hunter of the Columbus Dispatch,
The Jackets’ desire for a No. 1 center is well-known, but the free-agent market is short on top-flight centers, so they might need to explore the trade route. Could the Jackets and Sharks be a match? Maybe. The Adam Foote deal gave the Jackets another first-round draft pick (assuming the Avs make the playoffs), so it’s possible they could package one pick with a good player or two and come out with someone to play next to Rick Nash.
Marleau, 28, has struggled this season, with 14 goals and 22 assists and a minus-16 rating, but his track record is impressive. He had 87 and 78 points the previous two seasons.
Do remember, Marleau has a NTC kick-in this summer, so he will have to approve any trade.
From the Columbus Dispatch,
The Blue Jackets have called a late morning press conference at which time they are expected to name Rick Nash as the team’s new captain.
The franchise will not confirm this until the 11:45 a.m. gathering.
Coach Ken Hitchcock had planned to play out the balance of the schedule without a captain following the Feb. 26 trade of Adam Foote to Colorado.
from Bob Hunter of the Columbus Dispatch,
Is it too soon to expect Brule or Brassard to blossom next season? Who takes Foote’s place on defense? Would one strong playmaking center next to Rick Nash be enough to jump-start the offense, or will it take more?
Howson and Hitchcock are smart guys and they know this team probably wasn’t good enough to do what they asked of it. Because of contracts that were inherited, they were mostly forced to play with the roster they were stuck with. Now Howson will have both the money and the latitude to give Hitchcock a gun in place of a pocket knife.
As hard as it to see it in the gloom of a goal-deprived season, the sun might soon be shining.
From Columbus Alive:
On our City Limits blog at ColumbusAlive.com, we’ve been writing a lot about Columbus’ quest for some sort of marketable identity. So we couldn’t resist this telling tidbit, reported by Tom Reed in Saturday’s Dispatch:
Ken Hitchcock’s most humbling moment as Blue Jackets coach came in this radiant city on the Pacific Coast [Vancouver, British Columbia].
Hitchcock was trying to clear Canadian customs last summer when the agent asked him his occupation. He told the man he coached the NHL franchise in Columbus.
The agent grew suspicious and countered by saying, “There’s no NHL team in Columbus.”
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
Columbus has been a bit of an NHL backwater since entering the league in the last wave of expansion, the only team in the league which has yet to make the playoffs. As of Wednesday morning, they are on the outside, looking in, but hovering on the fringes of the playoff race.
Or, as coach Ken Hitchcock puts it, they are like players at a blackjack table — down to their last chip, when they double down and win and suddenly, they’re back in the game.
“There are teams in the playoffs right now, in the top eight, and our feeling is that one or two of them are not going to be there,” said Hitchcock. “We just have to find a way to manufacture points and if we can keep doing it, we’re hoping somebody trips up.”
from Bob McKenzie of TSN,
Teams make hard financial decisions all the time. I would never begrudge Howson the right to do that here. If the Jackets don’t want Foote at $4 million a year on a two-year deal, so be it.
Everyone moves on and they all live happily ever after.
But to pick up a newspaper or watch Hockey Night in Canada and read and hear an implication that Foote is a fraud who deviously orchestrated his own exit from Columbus, that he never had any intention of re-signing in Columbus, well, that is, at the very least, offside.
At worst, it’s character assassination.
added 7:37pm, from Rob Oller at the Columbus Dispatch,
Just be thankful Foote’s departure didn’t destroy the team’s playoff chances. Honestly, trading him to the Avalanche actually could help the CBJ’s cause.
If true that Foote threatened to quit on his teammates if the franchise didn’t move him before last Tuesday’s trade deadline, then better to be rid of him than risk poisoning the dressing room with his pessimism. Especially during this period of unparalleled optimism.
more on the Blue Jackets…
from Adam Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch,
According to numerous NHL sources, Foote threatened to be “a bad teammate, a bad captain and a bad player” the rest of the season if he weren’t re-signed or traded to his preferred destination—the Colorado Avalanche, where his best NHL years were spent.
The Blue Jackets made a final plea, urging Foote to consider all that the Blue Jackets’ ownership group, the coaching staff and the fans had done for him the past three seasons.
Again, according to sources, he responded by saying that he “doesn’t owe anybody anything.”
from Michael Arace of the Columbus Dispatch,
Thoughts that have remained dormant for years have worked to the front of my brain this week. Wisps of memory have emerged, unbidden, and they’re telling me that we’ve all been played by Adam Foote, that he is not the leader of men that he purported to be, and not just because he quit the Blue Jackets….
Lesson No. 1: Foote said he put his Dublin house on the market last summer because he wanted to “downsize.” What he didn’t say was he was hunting for a smaller house in the greater Denver area.
Lesson No. 2: Foote professed shock that he was traded to the Colorado Avalanche—yet he rigged the game for just this outcome.
Here’s what we know:
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