A day later and I share some thoughts.
1. I don’t think Hitchcock is anti-Russian, but he is anti-young, anti-finesse, pro-defense, and pro-large size. Earlier this season, I watched the Jackets play Calgary on the Flames’ broadcast and the announcers all marveled that Kris Russell is still on the team because he doesn’t fit the Ken Hitchcock mold. Before you conclude that Hitchcock must be changing, remember that for Hitch it was either Kris Russell or Duvie Westcott. A very easy choice.
2. Is Nikita Filatov spoiled? No, he would have made less money in Syracuse and he clearly belonged in the NHL. But not in Columbus. Burning bridges in Columbus would not have helped him negotiate with other NHL teams in the future. So he gets to play every day and make a decent wage in Russia. I’ve met him on two occasions and he was gracious and friendly, looking like a nervous high school senior. Filatov looked at others in his draft class and thought that he belonged, but he wasn’t getting the chance. Ryan Kesler played just one season at OSU and thought the same thing, much to the chagrin of those around him.
3. The situation is not the best for the organization. Yes, Filatov is slated to return next season, but that is next season. The Jackets drafted yet another first round player who is not with the team today. Will other finesse players want to come here as a free agent? If they are 6’2″, weigh at least 210, and hit everything that moves, maybe.
4. Is there a rift between Howson and Hitchcock. Probably, but not a large one. The team currently is winning and the majority of players that Howson picked are acceptable to Hitchcock, so one difference of opinion is not unusual. The two men are going to have to reach some sort of understanding because there are only so many Hitchcock-type players out there.