As widely expected, the Jackets were sellers at the deadline, letting go a bunch of pending UFAs and getting not a whole lot to get excited about in return.
- Raffi Torres went to Buffalo for Nathan Paetsch and a second round pick. I liked Raffi a lot, because (when healthy) he was a gamer who seemed to come up big when it counts. A valuable asset to have on a playoff team, but we all know this team isn’t going to the playoffs this year. Paetsch is a depth defenseman.
- Freddy Modin went to Los Angeles for a seventh round pick. As with Torres, Modin had some value when healthy, but he was almost never healthy these past few seasons. And again, with playoffs not happening, there was no need to hang onto him.
- Milan Jurcina went back to Washington for a sixth rounder. Jurcina seemed okay, if not great, when he did get playing time in Columbus. Wouldn’t have minded hanging onto him, but as a pending UFA, I suppose a sixth round pick is better than “nothing.”
- The long Alex Picard experiment is finally over. I always liked Picard’s heart, but he never managed to establish himself as an NHLer. He’s off to Phoenix for Chad Kolarik (brother of one-time CBJ prospect Tyler Kolarik). Another Doug first rounder is gone. Klesla, Nash, and Brassard are the only ones remaining.
- Mathieu Roy was shipped to Florida for Matt Rust, currently playing for That Team Up North. Roy was pretty good as far as depth/injury fill-in on the blueline this year, but was likely gone as a UFA anyway.
And there you have it. If that doesn’t indicate that no one has any faith remaining that this team can make the playoffs, I don’t know what does.
As I indicated I would do last night, I paid no attention to this game beyond reading the score updates on Twitter. I watched the WJC game, which was well-played, exciting, close, and my team won in the end. So kind of the opposite of Jackets’ games these days.
I’ve been hesitant about climbing on the fire Hitchcock bandwagon, in part because I think the team screwed up badly way back when Dave King was fired. So I’ve been reluctant to say throw an experienced coach overboard when the problems aren’t just about the coach. I still think it’s not all just about the coach, and I’m not convinced that firing Hitchcock is going to bring about some magical overnight turnaround. But I’m more and more of the opinion that a shake-up and a change of direction are needed. Playoffs are probably impossible for this season no matter what. But it just feels like this tailspin has gone on too long and next season could be lost too if something doesn’t happen soon. So with some reservations, I think I’ve moved over to the pro-coaching change side.
It is true that a lot of the comments on Puck-Rakers and elsewhere calling for Hitch to be fired have been short on suggestions for who should replace him. No one seems too excited about any of the current assistant coaches, so I can’t see one of them being promoted, except maybe as a temporary measure. And I don’t think anyone wants Howson behind the bench. I am intrigued by Kevin Dineen, a named that has been tossed around. He’s young, had some background with the organization, has had some success in the AHL. And he comes from a coaching background, his father having been a long-time coach. He could be a good fit in Columbus.
You know, if you took out the first ten minutes of last night’s game, the Jackets didn’t play badly at all. Unfortunately, the Avs scored four times in those ten minutes, putting the game out of reach. The Jackets scored a couple in the second to make it look respectable, but they were done when this one was just beginning. At least it’s a new spin on losing — we were all getting sick of watching them take the lead and then give it up late in the game.
Jackets are sitting in 13th in the West. “Only” six points out of a playoff spot, but only two points from the basement (currently occupied by St. Louis, another young Central Division team from which more was expected this year). It’s true that they’ve looked somewhat better of late, so there’s some hope they could turn the corner, but with each loss that piles on, the playoffs look less and less likely. Or even if they do manage to make the climb up to eighth, unless they start moving up the standings soon, they’ll once again deplete their physical and emotional reserves just making it to the postseason, and go out with a whimper. So something needs to happen soon in order to salvage this frustrating, maddening season. Gets no easier this week, with three straight road games.
Meanwhile, this Arace column in today’s Dispatch has got everybody all het up. I think there’s some sense in what he says, especially with respect to some of the more crazy suggestions bubbling up from the Puck-Rakers comments (I assume the column is mostly a reaction to those). But the use of the word “imbeciles” seems to have thrown gas on the fire.
What a joyous holiday season we’re having here in Columbus!
Hit a new low last night…I gave up after two periods of watching the game on TV (1 1/2 of which were in HD, thanks to someone being asleep at the switch at Time Warner). Went up to take a shower and check some e-mails between the second and third periods and decided, whatever, I don’t feel like watching the rest of this game. Watching a minute of five-on-three hockey in which the Jackets don’t even register a shot will do that to a person.
Jackets play again tonight in Minnesota. The game is (perhaps as a humanitarian gesture to the people of Columbus) not on TV.
Really, how many different ways are there that I can say a CBJ game was disappointing?
Once again, Jackets came out flat and played passive hockey in the first, and as a result, wound up going behind. They were somewhat better in the second and third periods, although again, while they outshot the opposing team, not many of those shots seemed to make Hiller work all that hard. So it was a bit of an illusion. Not scoring on a minute-long five-on-three in the third was a backbreaker. And yet again, the defense gave the opposition too much time and space — Bobby Ryan was able to walk right in on Mason to score what turned out to be the GWG for the Ducks late in the second. For his part, I thought Mason looked sharper than he has for much of this season. Hopefully he’s turning the corner — and if so, hopefully the rest of the team will follow his lead. Because this is getting old.
Freddy Modin showed some rust after being out all season. He picked up his play in the second and third, but you could tell he was just a tad out of sync with his teammates.
Jackets lost Dorsett again. He fought Mike Brown (the hockey player, not the Bengals owner, nor the former spokesman for Mayor Coleman) in the first and left with what was later reported to be a broken hand. That’s a bummer, after he had just come off IR. Especially with the Preds coming up, since that tends to be a chippy match-up. I assume we’ll see Andrew Murray or Mike Blunden back in the lineup Monday against Nashville.
Another not-great weekend crowd, although I’ve seen worse. They were pretty quiet most of the night, no doubt lulled to sleep by the first period. Although they did wake up long enough to start booing the Jackets’ PP in the second.
Jackets now twelfth in the conference, and eighth looks more distant all the time.