Saturday, April 28, 2007

New GM out of the spotlight? Yeah right!

There was a great article in the Dispatch today about the Jackets new President, Mike Priest, and how he wants to do his job, and do it out of the limelight. Priest is going to be much more concerned with the business side of the team, so out of the headlines should be pretty easy. (Until next spring when they decide to raise ticket prices yet again.)

Rumor has it that the new GM would like to operate out of the spotlight, also. Compared to MacLean, that should be relatively easy. The new guy could have his office in a glass cube at the corner of Broad and High and be less in the spotlight than MacLean was.

But, I wonder if Columbus will let him operate in the background and not out in the forefront?

This is traditionally a "FIRE WOODY/COOPER/MacLEAN" type town. Whoever is viewed to be at the top has their head on the chopping block in this town almost immediately. And while Columbus has done a solid job supporting the Jackets, we're still pretty new at the NHL thing, and who was introduced to us as the head of the org in all facets? The General Manager.

So, even if the next GM comes in with a glittering resume, a clean record, a plan, and #1 center that makes Hitchchock drool, his predecessor set a certain level of expectation for what he's to be responsible. Doug painted the picture to the residents of Columbus that the GM is the guy who answers the questions on the radio and in the paper. That the GM is the guy responsible for Rick Nash under performing in December. That the GM is ultimately responsible when his collection of talent can't crack the playoffs when the three teams that came into the league at roughly the same time have all done it.

Now, I don't disagree with that last one at all, on the ice it was time for something. But the others are going to have the regular Columbus fan ready to question the new guy right away. Regular Columbus fan is the guy who cheers for the Jackets but wasn't a big hockey fan before their arrival. He kind of understands the business side of things, can explain offsides, probably owns a jersey by now, but still has the Columbusite "FIRE COOPER!" attitude at heart. You know, he's Bob Hunter. (Except for the offsides thing, Bob is still working on that one.)

So, the natural evolution here should move the onus on the coach more than the GM. But, thanks to the work that Doug did here - and he did a LOT of good things for hockey in Columbus - the next GM is going to have a hard time operating out of the spotlight for a couple years.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Round 2 opens with a bang

4 games into the 2nd round and the goals are being poured in...well except for one of the more explosive offenses in the league in Detroit. 24 goals through the first 4 games? Yowza...defense first apparently went out the window.

Luongo giving up 4 and Brodeur giving up 5? I doubt that continues, but still pretty noteworthy. The Devils broadcast pointed out that Marty had only given up 4 goals one other time in his playoff career...and the Devils won that game.

I can hardly wait to see how the next set of games goes. The Sharks and Wings seemed like the only "sane" score so far, and the Sharks netting their two in under a minute raises the eyebrows on that one.

But, it's playoff time, anything can...and will...happen.

Monday, April 23, 2007

1-1 after two in Game 7...

Watching the Stars-Canucks, and here we are at the second intermission tied at 1 in game 7. Does it get any better than this???

Turco and Luongo have been's to at least a period of a great battle...

Sunday, April 22, 2007

McLennan Loses It

If you haven't caught Jamie McLennan wigging out at the end of Game 5 yet, maybe you shouldn't bother. The NHL seems to try ever harder to get rid of such antics, and yet they keep cropping up. Now in the holiest-of-holies, the playoffs. And against Detroit?

Now, I'm an avowed Wing hater, have been for years, but there's always something a little different with how they approach the game. They're usually not regarded as physical, but can hit when needed. Sure, Maltby tries to goad everybody he can into turning around so he can do the head snap thing to feign getting punched. But, seriously, when's the last time the Wings have been involved in some ugly knee-on-knee thing? Cross check to the grill? These guys - as much as it pains me to say it - play good, clean, hard hockey. (And I hate them for it.)

So, McLennan goes Paul Bunyan on Johann Franzen's mid-section...where the hell did THAT come from?? Franzen of all people.

But, here is exactly what the NHL doesn't want: An ugly stick incident in the playoffs. Thanks Jamie.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Dougy did not survive.

Apparently, I made my entry about an hour early last night. (Stupid Preds/Sharks game had to start at 10!)

So, Doug didn't make it to season 7 as the Jackets GM. Part of me is happy, part is let down. First, the let down part...

Doug did a lot for hockey in general in Columbus. He oversaw the final stages of the arena and was present before ice was frozen at the Easton Chiller. He was around when three more sheets were added at the Ice Haus and Chiller North. He was instrumental in getting the USHL in Columbus, even though the jury is still out on that one. Youth hockey has exploded with all the extra ice in town, and so have the adult ranks. No, Doug didn't single handedly build the rinks or force people into them, but he was the face of the NHL franchise that was spurring the growth. If there was something involving hockey in Columbus, it was more likely that you saw Doug involved than not involved.

Now for the happy the NHL level, it's time for Columbus to move on. The panic-and-patch approach to the Jackets' roster isn't working. Rushing kids to the NHL, not working. Brule should have been stewing over not making the NHL and tearing up the WHL with a, "I'll show that MacLean he screwed up by leaving me down here!" Rusty could have used a little more time in Brampton and probably Syracuse. Nash...well, Nash might have been the right decision.

But, hindsight is 20/20. At the time, both Rusty and Brule appeared ready to roll in the NHL, but that was probably a combination of optimism and fan desire on my part, and having no other options on Doug's part.

My personal opinion is that the day Doug announced he was going to take over the head coaching job full time was the beginning of the end. At the point, he cemented himself as the one and only voice in all decisions from the front office to the front of the net for the Jackets. Once he had that power, he wasn't going to relinquish it to just anyone, so enter Gerard Gallant. Turk did his best, but like Brule and Rusty, he wasn't ready for the NHL. The owners of the Jackets force Doug's hand into Hitchcock, and it all spun out of control for Doug right up to last night when the other shoe finally fell.

So, a big thank you to all that Doug did in building Columbus and central Ohio into a solid hockey market.

But, here's to the excitement of what tomorrow might bring in Jacketland.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

So, did Dougy survive?

The owners of the Jackets met about 6 hours ago to determine Doug MacLean's future, and I can't help wonder what the outcome was? Nothing on any blog - good blogs like Kukla's Korner, not lame, rarely updated blogs like this one. Nothing at, who I would assume would be the first to put the news out there.

So, what now? What if there is no more Doug? On the one hand, could be a good thing. The worst record in the NHL over the last 6 seasons isn't one of those resume builders that people look for. The Carter deal is another good one to pile on there, especially when Dougy went and threw more money to land Zherdev after signing Carter. There have been a number of head scratchers over the years.

But on the other hand, the guy has been the face and voice of the franchise for almost as long as there's been a franchise. Without looking it up, we've been looking to Doug for Jackets info since March of '98, I believe. If he is gone at this hour, it'll be strange to see somebody else in that position. Additionally, with Hitchcock in place, and some of Doug's sole proprietorship in the hockey decisions being removed, the possibility of things turning around is looking up. In a way it would suck for Doug to not be around to finally see the team turn the corner.

If he's gone, I've got to speculate that "Unemployed" and "Good friend of Ken Hitchcock" will be two parameters for Doug's successor. There's a guy out there that fits those params, and if you thought Doug was a hard ass, then get ready for some real fun. I won't mention any names, but it starts with "B" and ends with "obby Clarke."

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Nashville Recap

Wendy and I had a wonderful time in Nashville, got to see a great game, and probably drank way too much.

The atmosphere in the arena was electric. You could just feel the intensity from the sold out crowd. They seemed to turn the knobs to 11 on the PA system, you had to yell in the concourses to be heard. The good folks of Nashville spent a lot of time on their feet, too. (Was a nice change from some old codger behind me yelling at me to sit down while the rest of the arena is standing...)

The Preds and Sharks didn't disappoint, either. It was a good game, though the Preds seemed to be in control the whole time. It got chippy, as playoff games have a tendency to do, though I didn't see the Radulov hit that got him suspeneded. It was along the boards to our left in the blind spot created by the glass.

Other odds and ends...
  • We found where Wolfy's is located, and it's a great view. They're in the "cone" on the front of the arena overlooking downtown Nashville. We did find out, however, that they dropped all burgers from their menu, including the famous chili-cheeseburger. An institution has died...
  • We slogged to Printers Alley in the rain...well worth the slogging. Made it into the Fiddle and Steel, and had great time.
  • Preds fan is loud and they follow their team as homer-ific as any other fan. One tidbit I picked up in line in the restroom was that, "...the refs are taking Tootoo right out of his game!" I could only think to myself, "What game?"
All in all, it was a great trip. I hope the Preds continue on, maybe another trip will be in order.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Off to Nashville...

In an attempt to maintain my sporadic posting on this here blog...

My lovely wife bought us playoff tickets in Nashville tonight, so there will be at least two Jackets fans to take in a playoff game live this season. (I'm sure there are more heading to Pittsburgh or Detroit.) We'll be stationed in Section 109, Row D, which I believe is the top row of the section. Corner seats, should have a good view.

Some things of note for the evening, other than the game...

- We're staying in the same hotel we stayed in for last summer's Country Classic adult hockey tournament.

- I'm going to attempt to locate Wolfy's again. The lockout forced him out of his nice little Broadway digs, and into the arena somewhere. Hopefully the move didn't change the chili-cheeseburger at all.

- We may hop across the street from the hotel and get a beer at the Blackstone Brewery.

- Post game we'll be off to Printer's Alley. Wendy hasn't been there yet, so this is a must do.

We'll be home tomorrow afternoon, I'll probably post a full report here to make for two posts in two days, a Better On Ice record!