Kukla's Korner Hockey
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.”
via Tom Reed at Puck-rakers,
The Dispatch has learned the Blue Jackets are negotiating with free-agent forward Kristian Huselius, who played the past three seasons with the Flames. A deal could be struck later tonight. Huselius has scored 59 goals over the past two seasons.
In other free-agent news, the Blue Jackets appear to be out of the running for center Brendan Morrison..
Updated 9:30pm ET (Alanah): SIGNED. Breaking news from TSN—
The Blue Jackets have signed free agent left winger Kristian Huselius to a four-year contract worth $19 million, The Dispatch has learned. Huselius will make $4.75 million per season.
*link will be available shortly (Updated 9:32pm - story online at TSN)
Update 9:51pm ET: A comment from Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson: “Kristian is a highly skilled player with good vision and hockey sense who has performed at a very high level throughout his career. We are very pleased to have a player and a person of his caliber join the Blue Jackets organization.”
via Puck-rakers, Columbus Blue Jackets Nikolai Zherdev and Dan Fritsche have been traded to the New York Rangers for Fedor Tyutin and Christian Backman.
Update 4:32pm ET: And from TSN (link not yet available)—
Sources tell TSN the Columbus Blue Jackets and New York Rangers have completed a trade. The Rangers will receive Nikolai Zherdev as part of the package. Details to follow.
Update 5:19pm ET: TSN has more now.
Update 5:30pm ET: Puck-rakers has more, explaining the reasons for this deal from the Blue Jackets’ perspective.
Update 5:37pm ET: Comment from GM Scott Howson—
“The addition of Fedor and Christian to our lineup has really improved our puck moving ability from the blueline. All strong teams are built from the backend out and we feel like we made significant strides in that area today.”
Raffi Torres is a badass. Check out YouTube. Well, first watch the hysterical spoof from The Daily Show that involved Torres, but then watch Torres’ hits. This guy had 27 goals two seasons ago.
You know who Torres is? He’s a faster-skating Ryan Malone without the public relations help provided by the Stanley Cup Finals. Malone had the eyes of the hockey world on him during the Penguins’ Cup run, and he was awesome. His stock soared. That was Torres just two Cups previous. Big, nasty, feels no pain and lives, breathes and sleeps hockey.
more on Columbus
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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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