Archive for May, 2010

25
May
10

The beat goes on

The Stanley Cup Final match-up is set, the Blackhawks surprised no one in reaching the penultimate stage of the postseason marathon, the Flyers on the other hand were one of the biggest surprises when they mounted comeback after comeback to reach the Cup Final. I’ll be throwing my support behind the Blackhawks. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to the UC for a game and wasn’t mistreated, enjoyed my interactions with their fans, and loved the atmosphere. As a fan of the Jackets, it does grant a little more friendliness from opposing fans because we’re not viewed as a “threat”, but that’s another story for another time.

Some news and notes from the last week:

While the coaching search is still chugging along, Scott Arniel and Kevin Dineen have both had their 2nd round of interviews, and now Howson is waiting for Hamilton Coach Guy Boucher to complete his team’s series in the AHL Conference Finals (now going to game 7). Howson’s patience obviously points to something special about this Boucher guy, Portzline had a nice write-up on that:

Boucher has three degrees – bachelor’s degrees in history and biosystems engineering from McGill University in Montreal, and a master’s degree in sports psychology from the University of Montreal.

Blue Jackets center Derick Brassard, who played under Boucher at Drummondville of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in 2006-07, was wowed by Boucher’s motivational tactics.

“Every day was a new challenge for the players, and every player was accountable to the team,” Brassard said. “I’ve never played for a guy like him, a guy who is capable of getting the best out of every player. He was always in your head, always keeping you energized and motivated. It was always very motivating.”

Boucher is certainly an intriguing prospective coach. At this point I would be pretty happy with any of the potential coaches Howson has narrowed his search down to.

An update on the Coyotes franchise situation:

Last week, Glendale council gave city manager Ed Beasley the authority to work out an agreement with the NHL, which has poured more than $170-million into the team, with a limit of $25-million.

The next step for the NHL is to work out a deal with one of the two prospective buyers for the Coyotes. Jerry Reinsdorf, the owner of the Chicago White Sox and Chicago Bulls, was the preferred buyer for Glendale city council, although it tried to re-open negotiations recently with the Ice Edge group of investors after talks about an arena lease with Reinsdorf hit a snag.

So basically we are guaranteed at least one more season before the Coyotes eventually move back to Winnipeg and become the Jets again. In today’s day and age, it shocks me that a city is willing to cover up to $25 million in losses for a professional sports franchise. I’m sure it was a much easier to stomach proposal after the ‘Yotes had the season they did, should prove for a situation worth watching.

While the Blue Jackets are enjoying their off-season, one prospect earned some post-season hardware:

David Savard is turning out to be a bargain for the Columbus Blue Jackets, who selected him in the fourth round of the 2009 National Hockey League draft.

The Moncton Wildcats star was named CHL Defenceman of the Year at the Canadian Hockey League awards banquet on Saturday night in Brandon, Man. He was the club’s second leading scorer and also the highest scoring blueliner in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League this season with 77 points, including 13 goals, in 64 games.

By the tone of this article, it seems that Savard could really be developing into a great prospect for the Blue Jackets. If the prospect pipeline of defensemen wasn’t so full, I would expect him challenging for a spot in the line-up in 2010.

The NHL Scouting Combine site has an article about teams questioning Russian prospects…

Filatov’s case was a bit different. The Columbus Blue Jackets selected the flashy forward with the sixth pick of the 2008 Entry Draft. He scored in his first NHL game and had a hat trick in his sixth. It was expected he would compete for a top-two line spot this season.

However, he never adapted to how coach Ken Hitchcock wanted him to play, and after scoring just twice in 13 games and finding himself a healthy scratch, Filatov and GM Scott Howson agreed the youngster would be better served finishing the season in Russia.

Filatov had 22 points in 26 KHL games, and while Howson said he expects Filatov to be back in Columbus this season, nothing is guaranteed.

Still the wrong angle being taken when describing the Filatov situation. He was unwilling to learn to play defense like every other player on the ice for the Jackets. I have a major issue with even this NHL-sanctioned article directing more blame at the coach than the player when one has had a quite career and the other has barely even started and proved he couldn’t handle simple criticisms. Check out the full story here.

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13
May
10

Ratings, Winnipeg, and RussellBlog

Yes I am alive, and yes I still write this blog, but when news is few and far between I don’t like cluttering things with info they don’t really care about anyway.

I find myself missing the Jackets more with each passing day of the playoffs, yearning for a day when the CBJ find themselves playing spoiler, with Steve Mason playing the part of Client Jaroslav Halak. The teams I disliked most in the playoffs have all bowed out before advancing to the Conference Finals, including the Wings, Canucks, Penguins, and Coyotes. As a result of the Vancouver exit in the 2nd round, the Blue Jackets now own picks #4, #34, and #55 in the first 2 rounds of June’s draft.

Some interesting news from Steve Lepore’s Puck The Media:

TV MILESTONES IN THE 2010 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS

  • There were three major Boston-area sports events televised on Friday night, and Game 4 of the Bruins-Flyers series scored the best numbers, earning an 8.3 local Nielsen rating (328,000 viewers) on Versus in the Boston metered market besting the Yankees-Red Sox matchup on NESN, which earned a 6.3 local rating (223,000 viewers) to finish in second, while Game Three of the Cavaliers-Celtics NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals earned a 4.1 local rating (142,000 viewers) on ESPN.
  • On Thursday April 22, the Blackhawks, with 278,000 viewers in Chicago, prevailed over some tough local competition: Bulls (255,000 viewers, playoff game against Cleveland and LeBron James), NFL Draft (138,000) and the Chicago Cubs vs. NY Mets (137,000 viewers).
  • Combined, NBC and VERSUS averaged 742,000 viewers per telecast, the most for the first round since ABC/ESPN/ESPN2 averaged 750,000 viewers in 2000 and a 24-percent increase over last year.
  • VERSUS’ average viewership of 595,000 for the first round of the playoffs was the best for the NHL on U.S. cable in nine years (ESPN/ESPN 2, 608,000 in 2001).
  • Game 2 of the Detroit/San Jose series averaged 1.772 million viewers, making it VERSUS’ most-watched Conference Semifinal game in network history and the most-watched second-round game on cable in a decade (Colorado/Detroit, May 1, 2000 on ESPN, 1.926 million).
  • The Washington-Montreal Game 7 was the highest rated (1.2 HH rating) and most watched (1.2 million viewers) Conference Quarterfinal game ever on VERSUS, and the most watched Conference Quarterfinal game on U.S. cable since Minnesota-Colorado in 2003 on ESPN.

Absolutely awesome news for the league. If Bettman is indeed preparing to use the leverage to get new TV deals, now is the time to act. Unfortunately with the Penguins and their massive viewership out, the rest of the playoffs may take a slight dip ratings-wise. I’m of the mindset to not have the NHL go crawling back to the flagship home of the SEC, ESPN. Not to re-hash what many have said and heard, but the National Hockey League doesn’t deserve to be treated like the second-rate citizens they would be on ESPN. I wouldn’t be opposed to some sort of weekly game broadcast for added exposure, but at this point Versus is proving its worth, and should continue to do so.

One of the most unlikely, and certainly most satisfying, upsets in sports history is on the verge of happening after talks broke down Monday between the city of Glendale and Ice Edge, the apparent last viable ownership group that could keep the Coyotes in Arizona.

That means Winnipeg might steal its team back.

“Ice Edge is confirming reports that talks have broken down with [City of Glendale],” Ice Edge CEO Daryl Jones tweeted Monday.

It wasn’t a lack of devotion from Winnipeg fans that turned the Jets into the Coyotes. It was the spreadsheet projections of the not-as-smart-as-they-thought sports marketers. They counted on the strength of the U.S. dollar, the profits of possible luxury-box sales and the potential of a massive American national television contract.

It turns out the Coyotes have never turned a profit in Arizona, are currently insolvent and operate as a ward of the NHL, which is overseeing its sale. Meanwhile, that big-money TV deal never materialized for the league.

Great read from Yahoo! Sports’ Dan Wetzel. He successfully puts the blame on Bettman where it needs to be, largely the southern expansion and abandonment of fans has not had the desired effect. I’m not gonna sit here and act like I know what went down to lead to the southern expansion because I didn’t know a blue line from a red line at that point in my life. What I do know is that Commissioner Bettman’s obsession with forcing a team to stay in Phoenix is setting a terrible precedent that he will be hard-pressed to keep if/when other cities have issues that are comparable to the Coyotes.

The World Championships are going on in Germany. I’ll be honest, I don’t really care much about this with the Stanley Cup Playoffs are happening, but Kris Russell and Jakub Voracek are participating with Team Canada and the Czech Republic respectively. Interestingly enough Kris Russell is keeping a blog on his experiences in Deutschland, and yes he has updated more often than me as of late.

The rumored deal between the Blue Jackets and OSU to manage Nationwide Arena has been signed. “This Week” does a nice job explaining the deal that has been signed.

06
May
10

Delisle signs, Dineen Interviews, Drafting

Small bits and pieces of news, some Blue Jackets related, and a nice piece on the inaccuracy of drafting (on the day former NFL #1 pick Jamarcus Russell is released). First the signing of Steven Delisle:

The Columbus Blue Jackets have signed defenseman Steven Delisle to a standard three-year entry level contract, General Manager Scott Howson announced May 6. As is club policy, terms were not disclosed.

If won’t be long before the Jackets will really see what they have in the slew of defensive prospects with many being signed here in recent weeks. Picked in the 2008 draft, Hockey’s Future doesn’t expect him to amount to the top d-man the Jackets desperately need:

While Delisle boasts great size, he uses it more for his positional play, rather than throwing his weight around on a regular basis – picking his spots rather than over-committing. He is generally not suited to an offensive role, and would be a great complement to an offensive defenseman in a pairing, providing sound decision-making ability and strong positional play in his own end.

Sounds like a younger and lankier (at this point) Mike Commodore a bit to me.

The Dispatch announced today that Kevin Dineen finally interviewed for the CBJ’s coaching vacancy:

Kevin Dineen became the second candidate to interview for the Blue Jackets coaching vacancy when he met with general manager Scott Howson on Tuesday in Nationwide Arena.

…..

Neither Howson nor Dineen would comment when reached by The Dispatch, though Dineen did confirm the meeting.

…..

There are at least three other candidates expected to get interviews: Blue Jackets interim coach Claude Noel, Detroit assistant Paul MacLean and Hamilton (AHL) coach Guy Boucher.

Like I mentioned a couple of days ago, there will be little information about these interviews except that they are actually happening.

Finally, the lack of busted #1 Overall picks in the NHL Entry Draft:

Sure, the NFL’s annual office holiday party would draw a bigger television audience than the Stanley Cup Finals do, but there is one thing hockey has over all its big-time rivals: No. 1 draft picks in hockey almost always turn out to be good.

In the past five seasons, two No. 1 picks in the NHL have already been voted league MVPs. Six of the 12 top scorers this year were former No. 1 overall picks, including Tampa Bay’s budding superstar Steven Stamkos, who had 51 goals. To find the last clear No. 1 bust, you’d have to go all the way back to 1990 when the Thrashers’ picked Patrik Stefan.

I imagine if there was a study comparing first rounds of the major sports drafts, the NFL would have a higher success rate than it’s more prospect driven counterparts in the NHL, MLB, and to an extent the NBA.

Go Jackets

04
May
10

Coaches, Buckeyes and Off-season plans

The slow painful drip of news about the Blue Jackets has led me to delusions that a coach could be hired by the end of the week and Scott Howson surprise us all (just a hunch no “source”).

Over the weekend Howson interviewed Scott Arneil for the job, here are a couple quotes via The Dispatch:

“It was a great talk with Scott,” Arniel said. “I thought it went very, very well. We did lots of feeling out, in both directions.

“As you would expect with (Howson), it was very detailed, very well thought out.”

We’re kidding ourselves if we expect a lot of information from the GM or the candidates about the interviews, the most information we can expect to get will be the press conference announcing the new guy, whoever it may be.

Some news about Nationwide Arena and a move that should help the whole mess:

Xen Riggs, associate vice president in Ohio State University’s administration and planning department, told Columbus Business First the Jackets and OSU are likely weeks away from striking a deal that will put the university in charge of booking and day-to-day administrative options at the arena. That would put OSU’s Jerome Schottenstein Center at Lane Avenue and Olentangy River Road and Nationwide Arena under one management roof.

Should OSU step in to manage the arena, Nationwide Realty Investors Ltd. wouldn’t renew ties with SMG, the Philadelphia company that has run booking since the facility opened in 2000. SMG, whose contract on the arena runs out June 30, would continue managing the Greater Columbus Convention Center.

This quote comes from a Columbus Business First article that simply explains what the agreement would be. As an OSU alum, it made me a little bit leery of the potential arrangement because the University has shown it is mostly about serving and furthering their own needs when money is involved. The explanation provided by Columbus Biz First puts me at ease a bit explaining the situation as a mere change in management that saves $1 million, hard to be upset at that in my opinion.

Finally, TSN has the “Off-Season Game Plan” for the Blue Jackets, some snippets:

There is lots to like about the way Samuel Pahlsson plays the game, matching up against top lines every night, though it does seem that the Blue Jackets are paying mightily for that privilege, paying $2.65-million for three goals and 16 points.

Acquired from Washington in the middle of the season, Chris Clark didn’t add a great deal of production, managing just five of his season-total of 20 points in 36 games. Undoubtedly, the former Capitals captain is a character guy but, between Pahlsson and Clark, for a team that operates on a budget, the Blue Jackets are tying up quite a bit of money in “character” forwards.

…….

While the Blue Jackets can expect another turn from Nikita Filatov up front next season, hopefully for more than eight minutes a game, they could use another top-nine forward to provide better depth, though that might not fit with the current salary structure.

…….

Columbus’ lack of puck skills on the blueline created a need for the services of Anton Stralman and he did contribute 22 of his 34 points on the power play. His minus-17 rating is a concern, but Stralman’s 5-on-5 play wasn’t altogether as bad as that might indicate.

The Blue Jackets have enough depth on the blueline that they don’t need Stralman to play a huge role but, barring any acquisitions or a dramatic improvement from Russell, they still need Stralman’s ability to run the power play.

Columbus has enough NHL-calibre defencemen, with some decent prospects on the way, but could still use an upgrade, to get a legitimate top-pair guy to lead the group. If that makes one of the veterans expendable, then so be it; it has to be considered.

Overall just a great look at the Blue Jackets’ organization from top to bottom and from front to back. The biggest need last off-season, and for the duration of the franchise has been a top pair d-man, I plan to have more info and research into where that player could come from in the coming trade and free-agent-frenzy.

Go Jackets




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