Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch,
In his first public comments since he assumed majority control of the Blue Jackets, John P. McConnell sat down with The Dispatch last week for a wide-ranging interview.
Q: How stable is this franchise?
A: We are the most stable we’ve been. Everybody now is pushing in the same direction. But we still have a lot of work to do. The first thing is to put a competitive team on the ice, a team that wins and a team that people want to come watch. I think we’re there now, if not very close to there. We’ve got to get the building full again. That’s priority No. 1, and then we’ll whittle off the issues as we go.
Q: How important is it for this franchise to keep Rick Nash under contract?
A: Obviously Rick is the center of our franchise. He’s extremely talented. He’s developing his leadership skills. We would like this to be his team and his home for his NHL career. It doesn’t always work out that way, but hopefully that will be the case.
from Ryan Dixon of the Hockey News,
He took some time to talk with THN.com about a variety of topics, including how he spent his summer, his connection with an old minor hockey coach and his thoughts on the Blue Jackets’ busy off-season….
THN.com: It has been a busy off-season for the Jackets, adding players such as Kristian Huselius and R.J. Umberger. What’s your take on your team’s moves this summer?
RN: It’s been good. We added a lot of depth to our team and a lot of strength. It should be good, we got some scoring up front. I guess you’ll never really know until the season starts and you see how guys gel together, but on paper it looks pretty good.
from Rob Mixer at BlueJackets.com,
BlueJackets.com posed 10 questions to new Columbus Blue Jackets forward Kristian Huselius, who signed a contract with the team on July 2….
CBJ.com: How excited are you to be here?
KH: I’m very excited. This is going to be an exciting team in the next few years, with young players getting better and better. I wanted to be a part of this and hopefully I can help the team make the playoffs for the first time. We have a great player in Rick Nash and a good goaltender - if we can come together quick in training camp and get some confidence, I think we’re going to make a lot of noise.
from Aaron Portzline of Puck-rakers,
Right winger Stefan Legein, the Blue Jackets’ second-round pick in 2007 and one of the top up-and-coming agitators, has decided to quit playing hockey.
I didn’t believe it either, but it’s been confirmed just a few minutes ago by the Blue Jackets. They got a call today from Legein’s agent, Doug Woods, telling them he won’t be at training camp and has decided to hang up his skates. He’ll be 20 years old in three months.
This story is shocking on so many different levels. Earlier today, I got an email from a Puck-Rakers reader, Bethany, of Bethany’s Hockey Rants. Actually, it was a “forward” of an email she got from an anonymous person in Ontario saying Legein had retired.
After a slew of phone calls to sources throughout the NHL, I finally got somebody to tell be off the record that’s it true. Just a few minutes ago, Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson confirmed it.
from Edward Fraser of the Hockey News,
As I’ve done with the Pacific, Southeast, Northwest and Northeast over the past four weeks, here are my picks for the top three ’09 UFAs from each team in the Central Division. I’ll finish the tour next Friday with the Atlantic.
DETROIT RED WINGS
Henrik Zetterberg ($2.9 million)
He’ll never get close to UFAdom; you can bet each of GM Ken Holland’s Stanley Cup rings on that.
Marian Hossa ($7.45 million)
Even if the Wings don’t repeat as champs and Hossa doesn’t get the Cup he so desires, don’t expect him to take another one-year deal. How does eight years and $68 million sound?
Johan Franzen ($1.15 million)
A shoo-in for the Conn Smythe if he didn’t go down with an injury in the playoffs, the 28-year-old is the heir apparent to an aging Tomas Holmstrom.
I think it is fine the way it is now, everything is always the goalies’ fault. It makes me laugh. Whenever there’s something wrong in hockey, it’s always the goalies’ fault. Every player thinks our gear is too big.”
-Pascal Leclaire in the Sporting News Today
Heck, I thought everyone blamed Gary Bettman when something went wrong!
from Stan Fischler at the Hockey Journal,
Scott Howson’s Blue Jackets haven’t created any major headlines lately but the ex- Oilers aide may be putting together the NHL’s sleeper team of 2008-09. There may not be an All-Star among the roster additions but there’s plenty of substance. Between R.J. Umberger, Kris Huselius, Raffi Torres, Mike Commodore, Fedor Tyutin and Chris Backman, Columbus has a neat nucleus with which Ken Hitchcock can work. If Pascal Leclaire matures as a No. 1 goalie and Russian whiz Nikita Filatov lives up to his notices, the pieces for a playoff team will be in place.
more hockey bits,,,
Columbus fans submitted question for GM Scott Howson at Puck-rakers,
Q: Are the Jackets done adding NHL-caliber players to the roster for the offseason? The team is still nearly $9 million under the cap and there are teams out there looking to shed payroll. Has your phone been ringing a lot? Are you more likely to save that money in case you need it at the trade deadline?
A: “We are likely done adding NHL caliber roster players until we get through training camp and get a better feel where some of our young players are with respect to being ready to contribute at the NHL level. If possible, I believe that a NHL team should not operate close to the cap. You need flexibility to deal with injuries and opportunities that may arise. It is very quiet right now as it usually is in August but we are ready for any opportunities that may come our way.”
The Blue Jackets have invited defenseman Richard Matvichuk to training camp as a non-roster tryout. The team is still awaiting word on whether the 35-year-old Matvichuk will accept.
He most notably made two Stanley Cup finals appearances with Ken Hitchcock in Dallas in 1998-99 and 1999-2000, but has played in only one NHL regular-season game in the past two years.
Matvichuk missed all but one game of the 2006-07 season recovering from back surgery. Last season, he played 42 games with New Jersey’s AHL affiliate Lowell, contributing a goal and three assists.
from Michael Arace of the Columbus Dispatch,
It is great sport to engage in dog-chase-tail arguments over whether Howson extracted good value in every trade or paid too much for this free agent or that one. But to do that would be to miss the big picture, and the big picture is this:
At last season’s prices, about $18 million went out the door, all told. At this season’s prices, about $20 million was imported. Essentially, the money spent on the deals washed out—and the team was upgraded. Which is to say that Howson’s plan was an intelligent one, and well-executed.
There is a greater depth at forward. Nash, a 60-point scorer, now has a 70-point guy in Huselius on the other wing. The second li, ne looks like Fredrik Modin-Derick Brassard-Torres.
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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