Tag Archives: Hitchcock

Rob Oller Speaks! About The Blue Jackets!

I can’t say that we were not warned about this morning’s column from Rob Oller, a sportswriter at The Dispatch who is sometimes forced to cover non-OSU events.  And last night was one of those nights when Ray Stein, Sports Editor of The Dispatch and a man who has to think about many, many sports, some of them also non-OSU things, sent Rob Oller to Nationwide Arena to watch the local hockey team play an exhibition game and then tell us what needs to be done.

Well, Rob Oller did not disappoint those of us who read about hockey.  We are all fortunate to read a bland, meaningless piece about how the youngsters have to deliver now.  Why didn’t I think of that?  Anyway, Rob Oller provides us with his special insights, telling us how Ken Hitchcock used to coach some of these youngsters and he did not like having them on the ice together.  Rob Oller loved Ken Hitchcock because Hitch was the local coach who most closely reminded him of Woody Hayes.

Anyway, as is the case, Rob Oller does not tell us anything we didn’t already know.  He doesn’t expand upon anything that he (and the rest of us) observed last night.  He didn’t say that the youngsters must produce this year because Scott Howson did not attempt to sign anyone else.  He did not say that Jacket fans are waiting to see this year if Nikita Filatov really is a genuine NHL player, or if Derick Brassard is more than a potential journeyman player.

It would have been nice to read something informative for the occasional hockey fan.  Something that says, hey, I know most of my readers couldn’t care less about the Blue Jackets, but really, you should get out and see them this season because they are going to let these kids show their stuff.  And these kids have the credentials to be good NHL players, so they might be entertaining.  So instead of having a 24 hour tailgate party this weekend, maybe you should get down to Nationwide this Friday to see these young guys face the Pittsburgh Penguins.

No, Rob Oller just mailed it in this morning.  He told us that the kids did OK, but the future is not predictable yet.  No need to take your mind off Eastern Michigan University and their impending slaughter.

I can’t wait until next season when Rob Oller is forced to cover the local hockey team again.

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Not A Viral Video

Got my video from John McConnell yesterday and I don’t think it will go viral.  In fact, I doubt if it did much to settle the nerves of the locals.  To summarize, hey, the team tried but did not live up to expectations, the slump made us stronger, it’s not fair that we have a bad lease, it’s taking way too long to fix my problems because I’ve had to lawyer up, I want to stay in Columbus, and wait until you see our third jersey.

Pascal Leclaire, that was great last night and we in Columbus knew you could play like a champion.  Congratulations.

I’m just so glad Tim Tebow is gone now and I won’t have to worry about the Blue Jackets drafting him.

Has Kevin Dineen been hired yet?  Because we need a no nonsense coach in place, someone like Ken Hitchcock.  I need more time on this one.

Filatov said he will come to camp.  Won’t it be great if Hitch is still with the organization at that time and he is doing some consultin’ then?  If I’m Filatov, I better start to work on chipping the puck off the glass right now!

Is Nationwide still on our side?

Items Of Interest

Jackets cut ties with Crunch coaches.  What does this mean?  It means that Scott Howson now has to hire more than a Jacket head coach.  Or does it mean that the next coach will have a say on who is coaching in the minor league system.  Or does it mean that Howson is covering all his bases by hiring a better or more-qualified AHL coach who can step in behind the Columbus bench in case things don’t work out with the next coach?  Pittsburgh and Washington have shown the NHL that having a good AHL coach is a good way to succeed in the NHL.

Tampa Bay cleans house.  Yep, the former Cup Champions turned train wreck Lightning, now with a new owner, have fired their coach and GM.  What does this mean?  It means that Columbus will have to compete against the Lightning for a coach, although this was not unexpected.  But Tampa certainly is a nice place to live and the new owner has deep pockets, something that does not appear to be the case here in Ohio.

Theo Ruth turns pro.  The player that the Jackets received from Washington when they traded Sergei Fedorov, Theo Ruth, has decided to skip his last year at Notre Dame and turn pro.  He is not expected to make the Jackets next year and quite honestly, might not ever make them.  But that is just my opinion based upon watching him play in about six games.

Jackets have a 10.7% chance at the number one draft pick. If they pick the right player and things go well, we could see our local boys back in the playoffs within a couple of years.  I’m proud of the Jackets for not tanking their last few games to get a better chance at the #1.  Because the #1 will not give us a return on investment for two-three years.  And things might not improve all that much next season as the new hope learns how to play in the NHL and Columbus.

Flyers beat Rangers in SO to win last playoff slot. What does this mean?  A lot to those of us in Columbus.  You see, once again a former CBJ back-up goaltender played better after he left our team.  Brian Boucher helped the Flyers yesterday and Ty Conklin has done very well with Detroit and Pittsburgh.  Both got their game back again without the headache of playing in Columbus.  Is it a coincidence that this happened when they played on teams with better defenses?  Not great defenses, just defenses that were better than those in Columbus.  Remember, Marc Denis was solid in Colorado before he came to Columbus, but after facing more rubber than a Toyota test drive leaves, he lost his game.  Tugnutt did fine with Dallas.  So maybe the next coach should be someone who knows defense and how to teach it.  I don’t mean the Ken Hitchcock style of playing the trap, smothering the puck, and chipping it down the ice.  No, how about defensemen who know how to control the puck, how to make the right pass, and how to manage a breakout.

It’s Getting To Them

“Them” being the Dispatch writers who cover the Blue Jackets and blog about the team.  Yesterday, they blogged about a “moral victory” over Nashville, even though the Predators won the game, 1-0.  I was going to give the author, Aaron Portzline, the benefit of doubt on this one, figuring that he was more or less quoting coach Claude Noel.  But there wasn’t such a quote from Noel in the blog, so the moral victory must be a proclamation of Portzline.  And with that, you have to figure that the season is getting to them.

People, it has to be tough covering the Blue Jackets full-time.  The team peaked last April and has been circling the drain ever since.  Not only are things going badly on the ice, but off the ice, too.  The team stands to lose millions of dollars no matter what it does on the ice, all because of a bad lease.  The best guy to follow on the team was fired months ago and without Ken Hitchcock around, the team has no identity at all.  The superstar of the team, Rick Nash, showed during the Olympics that he truly is one of the best in the world, but back here at home he is simply above average.  The goaltender of the future might be just another goalie who saw his career go to pieces after a promising start with the Blue Jackets.  Give the Dispatch writers a break; it’s getting to them.

Most of the players on the team are signed for next year, with a few exceptions.  So what you see now is what you are stuck with.  Other than Nash, Kris Russell, Mason, and Jakub Voracek, who is in demand on the CBJ roster?  Yeah, tell me about Antoine Vermette, but name a #1 center or puck-moving defenseman that he would fetch.  This is your team, fans.  You’re stuck with it for next season, just like the we’re stuck with a horrible arena lease.  So when Aaron Portzline writes something that is really out there, think of what he has to do every day and be nice to him.  I love the game of hockey, but I don’t have to put on a happy face every time I watch a game.

Let’s get through the remaining games, draft a good player, maybe make a trade or two, hire a good coach, and move on.

A Hitch Stat

Pre-lockout: 362-195-110 [88 ties, 22 OTL’s]
Post-lockout: 171-155-48

Thank you, Irish Blues at SB Nation.

I’m sure that our local bloggers and commentors will come up with Howson stat to counter this.  Enjoy your cannon.

I Guess I’ll Have To Start Blogging Again

Hitchcock Fired

The Columbus Blue Jackets have relieved head coach Ken Hitchcock of his duties behind the bench and named assistant coach Claude Noel as the club’s interim head coach, the team announced Wednesday.

“This season has been very disappointing for the Blue Jackets organization and our fans and the responsibility for that rests with all of us from management to the coaches and players,” said general manager Scott Howson in a statement.

I didn’t think this would happen until the season ended.

“A coaching death watch begins “

The problem, when a coaching death watch begins, is that they often become self-fulfilling. The players start to hear rumblings about a possible change and it creeps into their collective psyche. They wonder about its implications, good and bad, for them as individuals. They stop playing on instinct; hesitation sets in.

Pretty soon, everybody is standing around, waiting for the other shoe to drop – and the frustrated general manager is there, watching the whole thing unfold, ready to tear out his hair because he doesn’t want to make a coaching change, but knows he may have to.

That, in a nutshell, is pretty much where the Columbus Blue Jackets stand at this moment …

These are the words of Eric Duhatschek, not me.  He wrote this column while mourning the Team Canada loss to the US in the World Junior Championship in ‘Toon Town.  In all seriousness, it’s a good read and worth your time.  But Duhatschek does not call for Hitchcock’s head over the mess in Columbus; he blames Steve Mason and makes some references to Scotty Bowman’s troubles with Tom Barrasso back in 1984.  I have a lot of respect for Eric, but the circumstances are different with Hitchcock.  Unlike Bowman, Hitch has a well-documented reputation for not respecting young talent.  Bowman had left Montreal for Buffalo because he wanted to run the whole show, taking on the role of GM in addition to coach.  He had a record of 210-134-60 in Buffalo, but never won a Cup or made the finals.  He quit hockey in 1987, but later joined the Pittsburgh Penguins as Director of Player Personnel.  He returned to coaching upon the death of Bob Johnson.

It’s different with Hitch because he’ll stay until the end, as he did in Dallas.  He has neither the strong record of Bowman nor the power of a GM.  Bowman changed over the years and didn’t mind when his team would score more than two goals in a game, while Hitchcock’s only change has been to look for bigger defensemen.  And Hitch is content just to coach the Blue Jackets and has said that he will coach whoever the team rosters, although Nikita Filatov would beg to differ.

I have mixed feelings about the current situation.  On the one hand, I wish Ken Hitchcock would wake up and see that the game has changed and his style, strategy, and tactics need to change, too.  He is a smart man who really knows the game and the team has made a lot of progress under him.  But on the other hand, if the team keeps falling, the franchise will continue bleeding fans and losing more money.  A high draft pick next year means that once again, Ken Hitchcock will be handling a young star, not something I look forward to.  Do you think that John Moore, our current #1 pick, is going to be treated any better next September when camp opens up after a season like this one?  It’s tough for young players under Hitch, but imagine how tough it will be for a young defenseman.  If Hitchcock is back next year, what will the team get for Filatov, because he won’t play here.  The team might have three young stars in camp next season; Moore, Filatov’s replacement, and the new #1 pick.

I’ll try to post more thoughts on Steve Mason tomorrow.  I’ve run out of time today as my day job demands more of my time, but I will say that Mason has to share some responsibility for the way things have turned out.  Mathieu Garon was signed as insurance, so maybe it’s time to use him more.