Monday, November 08, 2004

NHL Cancels the All-Star Game

With lingering doubts that any hockey will take place on NHL rinks this year, the league officials have decided to cancel the annual All-Star game which was to be held in Atlanta. Several players have jumped to Europe for the chance to play this season. Superstars Jagr, St. Louis and Kovalev signed in the last week.

"Hockey has given me everything in my life. I owe hockey a lot more than it will ever owe me. Hockey has been my life." - Raymond Bourque

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Collective Bargaining and the Future of the NHL

Unfortunately this off-season has provided ample time for every fan of the NHL to ponder the impending doom that is the upcoming season (or is it non-season?). The spectre of a lost season lurks on the horizon.

The CBA between the players and owners is set to expire, and the sides are not close to a new agreement despite holding talks. We, the fans, are the golden goose that provides the riches for the owners and players. Hopefully they will remember that fact when they next sit at the bargaining table.

For those interested in reading the CBA, visit

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Blue Jackets Keep Gallant

Don't call Gerard Gallant an interim coach anymore. GM Doug MacLeanwill announced Friday that Gallant was named head coach for the Blue Jackets. MacLean added, "He is an outstanding young coach who knows the league and has a vision for what he wants to see from our players on the ice."

Gallant is an NHL veteran who played 11 seasons before retiring in 1995.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Blue Jackets Sign Defenseman Suchy

<>The Columbus Blue Jackets acquired defenseman Radoslav Suchy from the Phoenix Coyotes.
The Blue Jackets also picked up a sixth-round pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft and sent the Coyotes a fourth-round pick in the 2005 draft in return.

Suchy played in all 82 games for Phoenix last season, recording career highs with seven goals, 14 assists and 21 points. In 372 career games, Suchy scored 12 goals and 63 points with a plus-31 rating.

"Radoslav Suchy is a capable top-four defenseman with nearly 400 career games of experience in the NHL and is just 28-years-old," said Blue Jackets president and general manager Doug MacLean. "He's a good fit for our team. He's a good puck mover and has been a 'plus-player' every year of his NHL career."

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Sanderson Back in Columbus

The Blue Jackets claimed left wing Geoff Sanderson off waivers from the Vancouver Canucks, who had acquired Sanderson for their playoff run in the wake of the Bertuzzi suspension. The leading point scorer in Columbus history, Sanderson hopefully will keep the scoring touch that he displayed in Vancouver.

Quenneville to Coach Avalanche

Joel Quenneville, former coach of St. Louis, was hired Wednesday to coach the Colorado Avalanche. We had hoped that the fine coach would land in Columbus, but it was not meant to be. Colorado has themselves a solid coach.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Draft 2004

The Blue Jackets began the draft as we would have hoped - they drafted offense with their first two picks.
Left winger Aleaxandre Picard was taken eight overall and is a solid 6'2" and 190 pounds. With the 46th choice Columbus selected RW Adam Pineault from Boston College. The American born (Holyoke, Massachusetts) winger is 6'1" and 193 pounds. Defenseman Kyle Wharton was their third choice, 59th overall. The 6'2" 185 pound defenseman played last year in the OHL for Ottawa. Picks four and five were goalie Daniel Lacosta and defenseman Andrei Plehanov. Lacosta is 6'1" and 185 pounds; he played for Owen Sound in the OHL last season. Russian Plehanov is 6'1" and 187 pounds and he played in Russia last year for Nizhnekamsk.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Columbus Signs Irbe

Goalie Arturs Irbe was acquired the Columbus Blue Jackets in a trade with the Carolina Hurricanes for "future considerations.". Irbe spent six years in Carolina and though he helped lead the Hurricanes to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2002 (a loss to Detroit), he was no longer starting in Carolina. Kevin Weekes has taken over the starting goalie role.

Whether this move marks a challenge to Mark Denis' starting spot or simply is an attempt to upgrade the back-up spot, previously held by Fred Brathwaite, remains to be seen. Irbe has been a solid goalie, so the move should improve the team.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Klesla Signs A One Year Contract

Defenseman and first draft pick in the Blue Jackets history, defenseman Rostislav Klesla signed a new contract this week. Injured for much of last season, the Blue Jackets are confident that the young blue-liner will become the solid defenseman that they expected when they drafted him #1.

Friday, May 28, 2004

Blue Jackets Extend Shelley

The Bluejackets extended the contract of enforcer left winger Jody Shelley, adding two years. Details were not disclosed. Shelley has been with Columbus for three seasons. Last year he had 228 penalty minutes, three goals and three assists over 76 games. Shelley adds punch, both figuratively and literally, to the Bluejackets lineup. However, he will be expected to improve his offensive numbers even though he obviously knows that his main role is as an enforcer.

Monday, May 24, 2004

NHL TV Deal Made with NBC

The league announced a two-year, revenue-sharing agreement Wednesday with the American network. NBC also has a two-year option for 2006-07 and 2007-08 should it choose to exercise it. Under the agreement, the league will not receive the kind of upfront fees that are common in most network television contracts. Instead, the NHL and NBC will share revenue, with the network covering its production and distribution costs.

Beginning in January 2005, NBC will televise seven regular-season games and six Stanley Cup playoff games in regular Saturday afternoon time slots. In addition, NBC will broadcast Games 3-7 of the Stanley Cup final.

If next year's NHL season is cancelled because of labour issues, the deal would begin in 2005.

The NHL's five-year deal with ABC/ESPN expires at the end of the playoffs. The league is still trying to negotiate a U.S. cable deal with ESPN.

- story from CBC online

Monday, April 12, 2004

Columbus Signs Maine Defenseman

University of Maine defenseman Prestin Ryan was signed and assigned to AHL Syracuse (who is still in the playoffs). In his senior season, Ryan had four goals, 18 assists, and 148 penalty minutes. On Saturday Maine fell to Denver in the NCAA championship game, losing 1-0. The Blue Jackets' most glaring need is defense and this signing is a good start.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Columbus 4 Detroit 1 The Blue Jackets finish the 2003-2004 season with a win over the powerful Detroit Red Wings. Columbus dominated a game in which Detroit seemed willing to coast through and ease into the playoffs.

Goalie Mark Denis was sharp for Columbus. Denis is easy to overlook given the poor win total of the Blue Jackets. A bit of perspective is needed to truly assess the goalie. His save percentage is quite good, .918, and tied him with Toronto stopper Ed Belfour. Some experts toss around Belfour's name as an MVP candidate, so Denis is in good company. Another year of experience for the defense should push Denis' win total up next year. Hopefully he will not be second in saves (1970 shots on goal against Denis this year) again next season.

Rick Nash netted his 41st goal of the year. Hopefully that will be enough goals to earn his a share of the goal scoring title. Nash is being closely tracked by Kovalchuk and Iginla. We'll see. Good luck, Rick!

Blue Jackets' D Rusty Klesla missed the game because of a charley horse sustained Thursday night against Detroit in Columbus (when he was checked into the Detroit bench door). Columbus also was without centers Alexander Svitov (ankle), Todd Marchant (groin) and Manny Malhotra (ankle).

End of regular season.

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Colorado 4 Columbus 2 The Blue Jackets were outgunned by a tough Colorado team. Three unanswered second period goals by the Avalanche put the game away. Paul Kariya had an empty net goal to ice the game for Colorado.

Rookie Nikolai Zherdev started the scoring with a power play goal, assists by Andrew Cassels and Jaroslav Spacek. The avalanche from the Avalanche came in the second period. Goals by Marek Svatos sandwiched a tally by Joe Sakic. Petr Forsberg did not get a goal, but his presence was felt from his tough play and three assists. In the third, Spacek got a goal to pull the Blue Jackets to within one, but Kariya's empty net goal iced the game. Svatos' second goal banked off of a defenseman then Denis. A bit fluky but they all count.

Jody Shelley returned to the lineup after a three game suspension. Saturday's game against Detroit is the season finale. Before the game, Columbus owner John H. McConnell spoke to the capacity crowd in a video. "We've got some great young players coming up who will be superstars in the future," he said. "Rick Nash and Nikolai Zherdev are just two; there are many more in the wings. You're going to see a great hockey team in the future." We hope so, John.

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Detroit 3 Columbus 2 Two third period goals by Detroit lifted the Red Wings over the Blue Jackets at Columbus. Robert Lang's 30th goal was the game winner. The Blue Jackets had two unassisted goals: Letowski (14) and MacLean (1).

This game turned on goaltending. Detroit's MannyLegacy was outstanding and outdueled Mark Denis. With Hasek and Cujo being the story during teh season, Legacy might just be the story in this year's playoffs. Key play of the game: Legacy stoned Rick Nash on a breakaway during the second period.

The Red Wings' Kirk Maltby checked Columbus defenseman Rusty Klesla into an open Detroit bench door. Klesla was down for a while and was taken into the dressing room with a badly bruised thigh. I wonder if the league will look into this questionable play?

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Columbus 3 Nashville 2 OT A great road win against a team in a hot playoff race. Tyler Wright gets the game winner in overtime. Denis sparkles in goal, stopping 36 of 37 shots on goal.

After a scoreless first period, Nashville jumped ahead 2-0 on goals by Dan Hamhuis and Andreas Johansson. Normally a 2-0 deficit leads to a Blue Jackets loss, but not last night. Rick Nash earned his 40th goal of the season to close the lead to 2-1 at the second period intermission. Nikolai Zherdev netted a power play goal with assists from Alexander Svitov and Rick Nash. The Russian rookie has been on a tear. It seems that getting the legal matters regarding his possible deportation out of the way has lifted his spirits and consequently his level of play.

Shelley served his second of a three game suspenson. Manny Malhotra sat out with a sore ankle.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Columbus 3 Anaheim 1 A hard fought victory against a game opponent, last year's loser in the Stanley Cup finals, the Mighty Ducks. Fred Brathwaite got the start and made the most of the opportunity by stopping 43 of 44 shots. Despite being outshot by 17, the Blue Jackets maange to win their second game in a row. David Vyborny netted his 21st goal and Tyler Wright got his 9th to provide the offense. Nikolai Zherdev claimed an empty net goal (to go along with an assist on Wright's goal) with 52 sconds left in the game.

As predicted here, Jody Shelley was suspended for three games by the league for his sucker punch on Alex Henry. We like Shelley's tough play generally, but his action clearly merited a suspension.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Columbus 2 Minnesota 0 A strong defensive performance not only from goalie Mark Denis but also the entire team. The players executed their assignments to perfection and held the Wild to only 20 shots on goal en route to a shutout for Denis, his fifth of the season. Blue Jacket goals were scored by Aaron Johnson (2) and Rick Nash (39). Nash's goal moves him back into a tie with Ilya Kovalchuk (Atlanta) for the goal scoring lead.

Jody Shelley was given a game misconduct for sucker punching a Minnesota player. Given the shenanigans around the league as of late, look for the NHL to come down hard on Shelley. Later Minnesota's Jason Wiemer was given a game misconduct penalty after instigating a fight with David Ling.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Columbus 5 Vancouver 4 Finally a win... and on the road no less! Columbus erupts for three goals in the third period, including two goals by rookie Nikolai Zherdev.

Brian Holzinger got things rolling for Columbus in the opening period with his sixth goal, assisted by Nikolai Zherdev and Todd Marchant. Rick Nash netted an unassisted goal in the second, his 38th of the season. The two goals by Zherdev were augmented with a goal by Todd Marchant, his ninth goal was on the power play and ended his long goal drought. No goals for former Blue Jacket Geoff Sanderson in his first game against his former club.

The Blue Jackets scored five goals on 23 shots. Obviously a poor night for Moose Hedberg. Denis faced 27 shots on goal.

The five goal output marks the first time in the month of March that the Blue Jackets scored at least five goals. The drought is over, but we'll see if it was a fluke or signs of good things to come.

Friday, March 19, 2004

Calgary 2 Columbus 0 No offense once again as Columbus drops a road game at Calgary. This game was a hotly contested game exaggerated a bit by a late empty net goal by Jarome Iginla. In the second period Matthew Lombardi netted his 13th goal and provided the Flames with the game winning goal.

Goalies Denis and Kiprusoff put on a show for the Calgary fans. Denis faced 34 shots and turned away 33. Kiprusoff only faced 23 shots, stopping them all for his third shutout of the season.

Columbus was a horrid 0-8 on the power play. Calgary went 0-4. Iginla's goal was his 37th, tieing him with Nash for second in the league. Todd Marchant has gone 18 games without a goal.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Edmonton 3 Columbus 2 Yet another close road loss. Blue Jacket goals by Alexander Svitov and Andrew Cassels; Oiler goals by Marc-Andre Bergeron, Georges Laraque and Ethan Moreau. Denis and Conklin in goal.

Bolstering a lackluster offense will be the focus in the off-season. Despite Nash's emergence as a sniper, the Blue Jackets desperately need to punch up the offensive firepower. Outshot and outscored on a nightly basis, Columbus faces the necessity of a major upgrade in offense in the wake of a trade of their all-time leading scorer Geoff Sanderson (who immediately starting pumping out points in Vancouver). Who will take over behind the bench for "interim" Gallant? Lots of questions for next year and this season still has games left.

Monday, March 15, 2004

Minnesota 3 Columbus 2 A tough loss for the Blue Jackets, who played a solid game on the road. Columbus jumped out to a 2-0 lead with two goals in a wide open second period. Minnesota also scored twice in the second. Alexandre Daigle scored the game winner in the third. Goalies Fernandez and Denis both played well though Columbus onkly managed to get 21 shots on goal to Minnesota's 30. Denis wishes he had that last goal back - he picked the wrong time to miscue on a play that should not have resulted in a goal. A fluky bounce and the game was lost. Seems familiar.

The power play unit kept Columbus in this game as both goals were on the power play. David Vyborny opened the scoring wth his 19th goal. A torrid Trevor Letowski got his 13th and fourth goal in the last three games.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

St. Louis 5 Columbus 3 The Blue Jackets fall again to a quality team. The weak finish is not going to help Gallant if he wants to get the permanent coaching position. Quenneville to Columbus... that would be great.

Alexander Svitov scored his first goal as a Blue Jacket and Trevor Letowski continued his hot play as he netted two goals. Keith Tkachuk continued his Columbus killing season as he added a power play goal and an assist. There simply is no one on the Blue Jackets who can match up with Tkachuk. He's too large and athletic a cover for them. Three goals in the third period iced the game for the Blues, goals scored by Savage, Tkachuk and Sillinger (who also had a short handed goal in the first period.).

Gallant pulled Denis for Brathwaite, but Fred let in a goal as well. Osgood solid again for St. Louis. A case of too much talent for the Blue Jackets to sustain against for a full game. To their credit, the team is still playing hard.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Detroit 4 Columbus 2 A game against a quality opponent spells defeat for the Blue Jackets. They played the Red Wings tough, but Detroit had too much talent for the young Columbus team. An empty net goal made the margin look wider than the game played, but make no mistake: Detroit controlled this game.

Trevor Letowski opened the scoring by beating Curtis Joseph (playing in his first game since recovering from an ankle sprain) with a neat wrap-around goal. Nikolai Zherdev added a second goal in the second period after a pair of goals by Detroit's Jason Williams. Brett Hull scored mid-way of the third period to provide the game winning goal.

Dennis played even with Joseph, as each goalie made some key stops. Spacek was -2 for the game. Many factors relate to plus/minus differential, but as of late Spacek seems to be on the ice for too many opponent's goals. The team's player with the worst differential? Surprisingly it is point leader Rick Nash with -30. Their best differential is defenseman Anders Ericksson at -1.
Vancouver forward and all-star Todd Bertuzzi was suspended this morning for the remainder of the year, regular and post-season, and possibly into next season (if there is a next season). Anyone reading this blog (all two or three of you) are aware of Bertuzzi's vicious hit on Colorado's Steve Moore: the mother of all sucker punches and smashing of Moore's face into the ice caused Moore's neck to break.

Hockey is a violent sport that is packaged as such. Fighting is a part of the game, as is punishing bodychecking. Heck, the dean of the sport is Don Cherry. Enough said. What Bertuzzi did is outside of the scope of even Cherry's vision of what hockey should be. Tough play does not equate wih cheap shots and the NHL is on the right track in its decision to issue a long suspension. In my view, Bertuzzi should have to wait until Moore takes the ice again then suspend Bertuzzi for additional ten games. If Moore never plays again, neither should Bertuzzi.

Biblical punishment, eye-for-an-eye, for a heinous crime. In my opinion, the NHL should not wait until major injuries occur to institute a get tough policy. Rules infractions that cause inury should have heavy consequences for the offender. Earlier this season Columbus defenseman Rostislav Klesla got grabbed and tossed into the boards - a clear penalty that got the offender two minutes in the box... and Klesla out for more than two weeks. Tie Domi's cheap shot elbow in the playoffs a few years ago also comes to mind. A small suspension serves to reward the brutal act. Hopefully the NHL will take more than just this first step in eliminating the cheap shots. The health of its players and credibility of its image is at stake.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004


The Blue Jackets traded left wing Geoff Sanderson to Vancouver on Tuesday for a 2004 third-round draft pick. Geoff was an original Blue Jacket and the team's career scoring leader. In 192 games, he scored 75 goals and 139 points.

Center Lasse Pirjeta to Pittsburgh for center Brian Holzinger, who won the 1995 Hobey Baker Award at Bowling Green.
Carolina 4 Columbus 1 Another home loss wherein the Blue Jackets got dominated. Goalie Fred Brathwaite got shelled by 38 shots and took the loss. Despite allowing four goals, it is clear that the lack of offense is killing the team, not the goaltending (Carolina's last goal was an empty netter). Rick Nash scored his 37th goal, yet another power play tally. Defenseman Duvie Westcott was activated after recovering from his broken hand and defenseman Darrel Scoville was sent to Syracuse.

Sunday, March 07, 2004

Vancouver 4 Columbus 0 A bad loss at home. The Canucks only managed 24 shots, but Denis and the defense allowed four goals. Defenseman Spacek was a horrid -3 on the evening. The Blue Jackets looked strong at the start of the game. At one point Columbus had a 10-0 shots on goal edge, but they could not beat goalie Johan Hedberg. Columbus was 0-6 on the power play. They have to play better than this at home.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Tough right wing David Ling has been assigned to the Syracuse Crunch, the club's AHL affiliate. Ling had one goal, three points, and 72 penalty minutes in 41 games. He always showed heart, but he needs to step up the scoring to remain in the NHL. Hopefully Ling's demotion will be a sign to Jody Shelley to keep up his recent good play to go along with his tough guy role on the Blue Jackets.
On Thursday an arbitrator ruled rookie forward Nikolai Zherdev does not have to return to Russia. This decision is a major break for Columbus who faced losing the exciting rookie to an extended army hitch. GM Doug MacLean said, "We have maintained all along that we complied with all regulations regarding the signing of Nikolai Zherdev and are very pleased that the arbitrator is in agreement. This has been a difficult few months for Nikolai, but he is to be commended for the way he has handled everything since he made the decision to pursue his dream of playing in the NHL last December." Good news!
Dallas 4 Columbus 2 - Bill Guerin earned his third hat trick of the season in the game at Dallas. Rick Nash scored Columbus' two goals, both power play tallies. The Blue Jackets went an impressive 2 for 3 in power play opportunities. Denis was under siege again as Dallas launched 36 shots on goal to only 17 for the Blue Jackets. A solid win for Dallas as they chase San Jose for first place in the Pacific division.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Columbus 3 Carolina 0 Another quality victory, and this one was on the road. For the second time this season the Blue Jackets have won three in a row.

The player of the game was goalie Mark Denis. He earned his fourth shutout of the season by stopping 25 shots. Denis made several point blank saves that kept Carolina from getting into the game.

Goals by Rick Nash (his 33rd goal and 16th power play goal), Trevor Letowski (9) and Manny Malhotra (12). Assists for Spacek, Vyborny, Zherdev and Svitov.

Monday, March 01, 2004

The fate of Columbus Blue Jackets rookie Nikolai Zherdev will be announced this week. In the meantime, Zherdev can play for the Blue Jackets. Expect a decision on Tuesday or Wednesday. Keep your fingers crossed!

Sunday, February 29, 2004

Columbus 5 Colorado 4 OT. A solid win over a tough opponent capped by a game-winning, power play goal by defenseman Jaroslav Spacek. David Vborny continued his hot streak, scoring a goal and gaining four assists. Zherdev returns and nets a power play goal, his seventh. Manny Malhotra gets his eleventh goal and Geoff Sanderson his thirteenth. Marc Dennis records 36 saves to earn the win.

Impressively, the Columbus power play nets three goals in seven power plays against a quality team. Colorado went 1 for 5.

Friday, February 27, 2004

A road win! Bluejackets 4 Blackhawks 3
Luke Richardson nets a game-winner in the third. A rare goal - his first of the season. Lots of guys with two points in this one. Vborny has playing quite well since the all-star game. Too many shots on goal again, as Chicago had 36. Fred Braithwaite, back from reassignment, is in goal and he gets the win. Big game tomorrow against Colorado. Let's hope they can build on this one and beat a good foe.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Blackhawks 4 Blue Jackets 3. A tough loss on home ice. Late goal netted off a nice redirection after Andersson got a little loose with his check. Denis did not have a good game, allowing a very weak top-shelf goal to Ruutu when he flopped into butterfly far too soon. Three assists for Nash.

Nikolai Zherdev's NHL fate will be decided this week. Hopefully for the Blue Jackets, he will not have to go back to Russia and do a hitch in the army. It would be nice to be a fly on the wall in that negotiating room. Makes you wonder how much money will pass around (or is that under?) the table.
Defenseman Rostislav Klesla is on IR indefinitely because of a sprained wrist. Klesa was picked up and rammed into the boards on Monday night at San Jose. The cheap shot was penalized, but it makes you wonder why you can injure a guy in such an obviously intentional manner and only get two minutes. To replace Klesla, center Andrew Cassels was activated from IR after a month and a half on the injured list. 7pm home game tonight against Chicago.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Off day for the Blue Jackets but a great opportunity has arisen! The Blues were crazy enough to blame their coach for their record and so they fired Joel Quenneville. So their general manager Larry Pleau skates free while they fire a guy who has his team winning 40 games a year.

Two words for the Blue Jackets front office: Hire Quenneville!