As I get ready to head out of town, a few thoughts.
I don’t think there was a conspiracy at USA Hockey to exclude RJ Umberger from the Olympic tryout squad. They didn’t invite Keith Ballard, a very good defenseman now playing for the Florida Panthers. And you could make a case for Ty Conklin being an invite, too. But to say that Brian Burke left Umberger off the squad because of distant memories from Vancouver is a bit of a stretch. Ken Hitchcock didn’t care much for Umberger back in Philadelphia, either.
Ryan Kesler is not the most likable guy on the ice, but he is not the face of USA Hockey and he doesn’t have veto power for the team. Remember, Umberger and Kesler only played one season together at OSU anyway. And if you think that all 20 guys on a hockey team get along, well, you have the right to your opinion.
And back to Brian Burke and Toronto. Does anyone in Columbus see the irony that two Americans, Brian Burke and Ron Wilson, are calling the shots in Toronto? Burke probably is in Toronto for a number of reasons, but one of them is personal. His wife does not have a residency permit for the USA and it was easier on his family for him to work in Canada. Burke is a Minnesota boy (although born in Providence) and has dual citizenship. But he lives in a fishbowl in Toronto and has to say things like “I’m going to sign Rick Nash” or “I’m going to trade up for the first draft pick”. Because he has a life expectancy of two years or one Cup, whichever comes first.
Now that the Blue Jackets have a solid tandem in goal and Rick Nash is here for life, can the team go out and get the kind of defenseman they covet? The kind who can play solid defense but put up 50-70 points a season? If not, it might be more of the same for the team, a huge struggle to score on the power play.
Have fun, everyone. Stay sane and don’t rag on the team too much. If you need to, I suggest that you write Ray Stein of The Dispatch and bitch about hockey to him. Ray enjoys hearing from you.