Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Michael Arace of the Columbus Dispatch,
John H. McConnell died yesterday. He wasn’t quite 85 years old, and he had an incredible life. It began in a house that did not have electricity. It ended in a hospital where he donated a tower…..
He liked the players, and told them to play for one another. He liked the game, the toughness of it, the stress it put on team play. He thoroughly enjoyed sitting in his box, up there in the corner above sections 106 and 107, and seeing the arena fill up for a major-league sport right here, in Downtown Columbus. I have no doubt he was happy that the Jackets will play on, indefinitely, beyond him. That was the point.
When they showed his face on the Jumbotron, he’d wave and the crowd would cheer. That’s not a normal owner-fan relationship, but it’s not surprising in this case. McConnell’s intentions were always transparent and pure and it was impossible not to like the man, and admire him. The jamokes in section 216, row Z, had a bond with him.
From Michael Arace and Ron Carter at The Columbus Dispatch:
John H. McConnell, son of a steelworker, father to a new branch of the steel industry and majority owner of the Columbus Blue Jackets hockey team, died today after a long illness. He was 84.
Despite his business success, he never forgot his hardscrabble beginnings, the iconic industrialist who ran Worthington Industries as if he still wore coveralls. He was known as “Mr. Mac” to one and all, and when he removed the cigar from his mouth, he talked plain.
“It just came natural,” he said in a 1996 interview. “You don’t cheat. You don’t lie. You help your neighbor.”
continued… (*thanks to a KK member for passing on this news)
Update 6:27pm ET: A tribute to McConnell from the CBJ organization…
from Adrian Dater of All Things Avs,
Not enough was written, probably, about the job Adam Foote did against the Wild. There’s no question Marian Gaborik heard “Foote-Steps” the whole series, just like there’s no question Foote turned out to be a tremendous acquisition at the trade deadline. There’s also no question he’s making the Columbus Blue Jackets look like a ship of fools for letting him go, and for throwing him under the bus afterward with a lot of specious, not-for-attribution accusations.
There’s no question about what happened, though: GM Scott Howson went to the local press and whined about Foote playing some hardball over his contract, then slimed his character, and the media there ate it up.
Whether it was all true or not (and I have my doubts), it was just dumb of Howson to do that.
a little more on that topic plus Dater explains why he picked the Wild in round 1…
from Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch,
The Blue Jackets will have up to $20 million to spend on roster improvements this summer, along with a directive from ownership to get better quickly.
Now comes the potentially hard part—persuading free agents to take the Blue Jackets’ money, to sign a long-term contract with a club that outsiders view as the Tampa Bay Rays of hockey.
Today, the NHL hosted a teleconference call for the media to ask questions of Buffalo Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff and Columbus Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock.
Here is the transcript of that Q&A.
Q. The emphasis has been in the west all year now. Now the popular belief is whoever comes out of the west is going to be the Stanley Cup champion. Do you have that sense, as well?
KEN HITCHCOCK: No, I don’t. I think one of the problems is when you have so many good teams that what’s left of your team at the end of the three series that you have to play in sometimes isn’t much. I think a lot of it depends on the damage that gets done in some of these series.
I think when you look at the competitiveness of the teams and the closeness of really almost all eight teams in the playoffs, you know, I think health is going to be a major issue on whoever comes out from this series because it has the makings, especially in these early rounds, of some really long series here.
from Bob Hunter of the Columbus Dispatch,
The Jackets’ season was effectively over during Christmas shopping season. If you attended a party on New Year’s Eve, you might catch somebody discussing the talent at the top of the next summer’s draft.
This season wasn’t the same. It might seem like it because of increasing expectations, but it wasn’t even close. Coach Ken Hitchcock achieved his goal of making the Blue Jackets difficult for others to play against. His system allowed a team that didn’t have a depth of veteran talent to consistently beat teams that do, and he might have been one goal scorer from getting the Jackets into the playoffs. And they even had that scorer—Fredrik Modin—but injuries limited him to 23 games.
Gary Bettman faced some question from Blue Jackets fans…
from the Columbus Dispatch,
Q. Doesn’t the NHL need to increase its TV exposure, say, by getting back on ESPN?
A. When we came back (after missing the 2004-05 season), we felt it was important to go to a place that would give us special, priority treatment. Coming out of the lockout, ESPN was not prepared to love us the way I thought we deserved to be loved. I’m not sure being on ESPN at this point would give us what we need in terms of presence and promotion.
via the Columbus Dispatch,
Blue Jackets goaltending coach Clint Malarchuk was involved in an altercation this week in Nashville, Tenn., The Dispatch has learned.
No report was filed with the Nashville Police Department, and Malarchuk did not return phone calls seeking comment.
The incident occurred several hours after the Blue Jackets arrived in Nashville on Monday for a game Tuesday.
Malarchuk, whose face was badly bruised, did not fly back to Columbus late Tuesday with the team, instead returning to his ranch in Nevada.
General manager Scott Howson said the club would have no comment.
The Blue Jackets had lots to say about Nashville winger Jordin Tootoo, who took a run at defenseman Rostislav Klesla and had two fights in the third period, one with Jan Hejda and another with Jason Chimera….
Hitchcock had lots to say about Tootoo after the game. He even took a swipe at his good friend Barry Trotz, coach of the Predators. Here’s what he said: “That’s embarrassing. (Tootoo) is too good a player to do that stuff. I find it really embarrassing, but the (Predators) must allow it, so what the heck. I just don’t like the clown shows.”
Trotz, when asked about Tootoo taking a shift with 45 seconds left, said: “It wasn’t to send a message or anything. It was just to get him some ice time.” Apparently, this was delivered with a straight face.
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.
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.
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