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Blue Jackets: 4 ... Hurricanes: 1

Friday, September 29, 2006
And with that the pre-season draws to a close for the Blue Jackets, who finish with a surprising 4-3 record.

It was just a wonderful feeling to see the Jackets on TV once again, exhibition game or not. And this one was actually a pretty good match with some strong rosters on both sides, too. I counted Staal, Cole, Brindy, Commodore, and several other notable Hurricanes. Cam Ward also played half of the game, coming out at around the 10:03 mark of the second period to let John Grahame get some play time in as well.

The whole telecast had a bunch of little gems. First and foremost? No commercial breaks! Well, with the exception of intermissions, of course. But beyond those, whenever there was a television time-out, instead of going to commercials, Danny Gare and Jeff Rimer had lined up nearly a dozen different interviews with current Blue Jackets players such as Nasher, Chimera, Malhotra, Foote, Brule, and others. There was also an interview with new goalie coach Clint Malarchuk.

Interesting side-story of the moment? When Vancouver rolls into town next Friday, Clint's new student -- Pascal Leclaire -- will be facing off against his old and prized former student, Roberto "Yo!" Luongo.

In any event, there are several things to touch on that range from the good to the bad to neutral. Let's start with the bad, since it's best to get that out of the way.

- SHOOT THE DAMN PUCK ON THE POWER PLAY!! For the love of [insert your favorite deity here], it was like a comedy of errors when the Blue Jackets had any of their six power plays, including a 5-on-3 which was about 1:10 in length. Nasher, who was a healthy scratch and in the booth with Gare and Rimer during the 5-on-3, spoke about how the focus has been on moving the puck to the slot or point and looking for a shot. Frankly, it's not working. All it's doing is causing a lot of nothing going on, and there were several dangerous moments when turnovers either did occur or almost occur to give the 'Canes shorthanded chances.

- There still seems to be a lot of discombobulation concerning both the last line for the Jackets forwards, and the defense as a whole. One thing that stood out for me, for example, was the pair of penalties Mark Hartigan got one after the other, which led to Carolina's lone goal on the night. There's still some sloppy play going on when protecting the net. It's getting better, but it's still a far cry from playoff caliber teams.

As for positives ...

+ If Geoff Platt isn't on the roster for opening night, I'll choke whoever comes up with that line-up. Seven points in seven games, for one. The fact that he just appears out of nowhere scares the frick out of me at times (it's probably due to his 5'8" size) also helps. And it's just amazing that he's able to do so much stuff despite never being drafted! Platt is probably the ultimate diamond in the rough for the Jackets right now, considering he's been playing at a level equal to, if not greater than, heradled first round picks Gilbert Brule and Alexandre Picard. Which isn't to say they haven't played good, either.

Okay, done gushing.

+ Last week when I did my interview for Christy at Behind the Jersey, I mentioned how I really liked Jason Chimera, and how he reminded me of a more rough around the edges John Madden in terms of their strengths in speed and breakouts. Watching him score that shorthanded goal on Cam Ward tonight and beating out a surprised Erik Cole to the puck as he did so pretty much cements that opinion, too.

+ Pascal Leclaire once again showed off those flashy and fast legs of his, only letting in one goal on 26 shots.

+ Another shootout exhibition post-game, and this time the Jackets won it (this time it was just the average best of 3 and not best of 5 like the previous exhibition game). And who scores on the first shot by the Blue Jackets? You guessed it ... Jaroslav Balastik.

As for some general things?

= Ty Conklin has been placed on waivers, and barring another team picking him up will end up in Syracuse. You almost get the feeling that it may be a combination of his exhibition play and something else, since he was more or less on par with Norrena, stats-wise this pre-season.

= Anson Carter was slated to play tonight, but after the opening skate around opted against it due to the tendanitis in his foot, which was mentioned in a previous post. It doesn't sound like it's too big a deal, though, and he will be ready to meet the Canucks next Friday. Also out was Rick Nash, who was simply being rested. He spent a bit of time in the booth with Gare and Rimer in the second period.

= Berard apparently has not yet gotten the MRI that was mentioned to be happening earlier in the week. Or if it has, nothing has been mentioned publicly yet on the results. You get the distinct the feeling that he'll probably not be ready for opening night, considering how serious of an injury this was back when he was operated on.

= On the flip side, both Fedorov and Svitov are ahead of schedule in their rehabilitation, and are already working on bikes and have the green light to get back on the ice! Awesome news right there. Don't expect to see either Russian ready and suited up for opening night, though. Good shape or not, there's no need to go rushing either of them back just to appease an opening night crowd. That'd be the worst thing that can be done.

= Zherdev could very well be back by Wednesday of next week at the earliest, all depending on how quickly things are processed in terms of getting permission to come back to the United States. Here's hoping our wonderful American government and federal system can get this taken care of quickly.

All in all it's been a pretty long day for me, so I'll wrap things up here. It was just great to see with my own eyes the Jackets back in action again after that last game in April I went to. For people in the FSN Ohio region, don't forget that the best four games of last season will be aired between October 2nd and October 5th. So if you want to see the one win the team got against the Red Wings in the shootout, the OT winner against the Stars in the final game of the season, or the shorthanded goal that Foote blasted on Nashville to stop their early season winning streak again, be sure to tune in!

And just a few hours later ...

Thursday, September 28, 2006
Zherdev reportedly accepts 3-year, $7 million-plus deal

There you have it, folks. Begin speculating what the top lines will look like. Thanks to a fellow fan from the Blue Jackets' LJ community for mentioning that a local TV station here first reported this during the noon news.

More in-depth analyzation of what this means later this evening. For now, I've touched on a couple points in my previous post when this was all hopeful speculation.

Some bad news, and then some (hopefully!) good news.

Let's get the bad news out of the way first, since it won't take up as much time to go into. First off, word out of The Columbus Dispatch is that off-season acquisition and Zherdev insurance Anson Carter is sore and hurting with a case of plantar fasciitis.

... "plantar what?" is the first thing that popped into my head, confused by this new term I had never before heard when it came to injuries. So being the intrigued person that I am, I hopped on over to Wikipedia! And here is what the article on plantar fasciitis states at the beginning:

Plantar fasciitis is a painful inflammatory condition caused by excessive wear to the plantar fascia of the foot. The pain usually is felt on the underside of the heel, and is often most intense with the first steps of the day. It is commonly associated with long periods of weight bearing. Obesity, weight gain, jobs that require a lot of walking on hard surfaces, shoes with little or no arch support, and inactivity are also associated with the condition. This condition often results in a heel spur on the calcaneus, in which case it is the underlying condition, and not the spur itself, which produces the pain.

Definitely not painting a pretty picture here. Come to think of it, this was the exact same sort of inflammation I was feeling weeks ago before I got some new shoes for my daily exercising. But that's neither here nor there.

Despite how bad this sounds, Carter still hopes to play in the last pre-season game on Friday down in Carolina. The last thing we need is to add even more of our better players on the injured list.

Speaking of which, in that same article, Aaron Portzline goes on to mention how defenseman Bryan Berard is still considered out indefinitely and now is going to get an MRI concerning the pain he's feeling in his back.

Sigh. The more time that passes, the more it seems like deja vu from the start of last season all over again. But it's best to keep a stiff upper lip and just wait for some more concrete information. Although it's been stated that Berard is out indefinitely, as recent as last week there was no word that he'd miss opening night. There's still eight days to go before then, so plenty of time left before it's time to start worrying about the already shallow blue line.

But let's talk about something more positive! Something like Nikolai Zherdev!

Yeah, "positive" and "Zherdev" in the same phrase? That's a twist. But 'lo and behold, as first blogged on by Paul Kukla at Kukla's Corner yesterday, referenced from The Doug MacLean Show on 1460 The Fan, and then confirmed by Portzline at The Columbus Dispatch, there is definitely a lot of movement in the past day or two. Both Rolly Hedges -- Zherdev's head agent -- and MacLean are pretty much talking the same sort of talk, and saying that while nothing has been written in stone, that they're now just a couple dozen yards from each other in terms of what each side wants, instead of the miles apart attitude which hung drearily over earlier negotiations.

I'm not going to get ahead of myself here and start heralding the return of Czar Zherdev of Ukraine, though. Until it's reported that they've officially signed on to a new deal, who knows what could happen. Even so, I took a page from Jes Gőlbez's magic Microsoft Excel roster spreadsheets, and tried to figure out how, exactly, Zherdev would fit in to this new roster scheme with Carter here in Columbus. It's really not that pretty, to be honest ... there's practically a glut in terms of forwards, in large part because of the breakout pre-seasons that Geoff Platt and Alexandre Picard have been having, and how they've yet to be sent back to Syracuse, meaning there is a good chance they may very well be here at the start of the season.

Awkward, is what this is. I really had a hard time trying to decide whether or not I thought Vyborny would make the better second liner, and Carter doing better placed on the third line. On top of that, suddenly you got guys like Picard and Platt in the wings, and possibly Mark Hartigan as well. With Alexander Svitov and Sergei Fedorov both injured this isn't a big deal at the moment, and won't be until between 4-10 games into the season when one or both return.

I think this is one of those sorts of situations where you want. Where you actually have more forward depth than you even know what to do with. The fact that at the end of the day we're going to have at least one 50-60 point scorer on the third line because of how deep that right wing is looking is actually a very scary thought.

But again, this all depends on if Zherdev returns. Cross your fingers, folks.

Klesla gets the ban hammer dropped on him, and's total ignorance.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006
So Rusty Klesla is suspended for two regular season games for the supposed knee job he did on Turomo Ruutu of the Chicago Blackhawks during a pre-season game last week. With no video replays, and nothing but my memory of the radio commentary to go off of as well as the bare bones news articles, it's really hard to say whether or not the suspension is justified, or if the 'clipping' penalty looked intentional, or anything of that sort. Drew at EoB does a much better job at touching on this situation, and so I'll pass the torch over to him to cover this situation. All I know is that this won't help the Blue Jackets' already rather thin blue line at the start of the season. Two games isn't a lot, but a good beginning means a lot to this team and the fans.

With the Klesla suspension taken in to account, here is who will be missing from opening night ...
-Sergei Fedorov (injury/shoulder)
-Alexander Svitov (injury/shoulder)
-Rusty Klesla (suspension)

And then there's concern recently about Bryan Berard and some soreness he's been feeling. If Klesla's loss at the blue line isn't scary enough, Berard's questionable status should be a dose of soberness to anyone having any expectations for opening night. But let's just hope for the best, since it's all we can do here in Columbus.

Moving on ... okay, what cracked out sport's writer wrote the season previews for No mention of Anson Carter, and Radoslav Suchy -- as much as I like the guy -- being talked up as though his loss to free agency means a coming of the apocalypse for the Blue Jackets' defense? Oh, and don't forget the no-mention of Pascal Leclaire's save percentage and instead going only with the goals-against average. Then pretty much dismissing every single player besides Rick Nash as worthless. Since when was our weakness this season our forwards, anyway? I mean, yeah, it's no Atlanta Thrashers offense, but it's far from what we had last year going by what's on paper.

(Edit (7:04 PM EST): Just as an aside, and to show that I'm not getting on their cases for homer-ish issues only ... they also outright fail to mention the Zherdev dispute. Now understandably this was just a capsule-type prediction for all teams in the Central Division, but even so, they sure as frell went out of their way to talk up the Predators right at the beginning with quite a bit of content. So it isn't like they were lacking in space to go in-depth with some of the other teams.)

Obviously I've yet to take kindly to any op-eds on the Blue Jackets' hopes or possible finish this year, as can be seen by my snarky entry on Robert Picarello's predictions last week. But for God's sake, get your information right. Don't go pulling stuff out of your ass magic hat and trying to pass it off as a professional prediction on a site like It's obvious that the person who wrote the predictions for the Central Division there in is really not in the know.

With that, I have some evening exercising to go get out of the way before I start winding down for the night.

Upcoming graphical changes to AotO, and random thoughts.

Monday, September 25, 2006
Amidst the joy in seeing the Blue Jackets win last night, I must have completely forgotten or not noticed this. As reported by Michael Arace at The Columbus Dispatch, Alexander Svitov suffered some sort of shoulder injury which will sideline him for a while, it's assumed. Isn't that just our luck? And he went down in the third period, at that. This can only mean one thing ...

We lose a player, we win a game. That has to be it! We better start marching out sacrificial lambs from Syracuse, huh?

But in all seriousness, here's hoping that the injury isn't too serious, and that Svitov will recover quickly.

Besides the injury, let's talk about Army of the Ohio. One of my artistically-gifted friends is in the process of working on a little commission for me, and hopefully sometime soon I'll be able to use it here. What'll it have? A new banner, for one. There'll also be some images for each category in the sidebar, instead of that jumbo text thing I got going on. She's pretty busy, but here's hoping it might even be done before the first game of the season, right?

Not much else going on today, so here's a couple of gripe-y and a couple of thoughtful questions for me to ask you, the reader ...

-Is it just me or is ESPN actually showing a little more acknowledgement of the NHL recently? Now understandably it's almost the start of the regular season, so that's to be expected. But you get the distinct feeling that they seem to be doing a little more this time around than they did last season, in terms of covering the sport, actually showing articles involving hockey on the front page, and what have you.

-Does Chris Berman think he's funny by referring to the AFC North as the "Norris Division"? Or is that some sort of football thing I don't understand, and am just assuming he's joking about the old NHL Norris Division?

-How long until we can officially stop calling the NHL the "New NHL"? Anyone know? Anyone?

Blue Jackets: 4 ... Hurricanes: 2

Sunday, September 24, 2006
Remember the other day when I said ...

I tend not to make predictions, as they're usually something I like to avoid. But in this case, I'll make an exception. If the Blue Jackets manage to win on the road against the Blackhawks tomorrow night? Then I say they split the two-game series against Carolina. If they lose? Get ready for a long end to this short pre-season, as I would then foresee a couple of crushing defeats at the hands of the 'Canes to wrap things up this month.

Well, if you kept track of tonight's
4-2 win over the Hurricanes, now you see why I don't make predictions. Trust me, I've never been good with them. I'm not sure if I should be happy or sad that my predictions always go awry!

But in any case, this was a good game. Both teams had generous amount of their main, prospective regular season players coming out to play tonight, but with exceptions on both sides. Berard, Foote, Fedorov, Chimera and Malhotra all were out for their respective reasons, while the Hurricanes played former Lightning starter-turned-Hurricane backup John Grahme in net instead of wonder boy Cam Ward. Other 'Canes scratches included Eric Staal, Oleg Tverdovsky, Scott Walker and at least a few others.

But looking beyond the scratches, this game was pretty well evenly matched all in well, with a lot of back and forth between the teams as the game went on. The Jackets were heavily beaten down with penalties, up until the third period however, which set a rather staggered tempo throughout for them. It also allowed the 'Canes to get on the board first in the second period.

Nasher scored a couple of goals, both times practically flip-flopping on the ice (you can see the replays in the above link), and both Geoff Platt and Alexandre Picard worked their asses off the whole game. I do want to make a comment about how people seem to feel that there is a lack of depth on the team ... and I'll admit it, if someone on the top two lines goes down, there's a real danger. In that sense, the team is lacking depth. But looking at the third and fourth lines, where you got guys like walk-on Platt and previous 1st round pick Picard stirring things up almost all the time, you have to admit there is a real glutt of younger players in the Jackets' organization. Here's hoping one of them is able to step up in the future if they ever have to, due to another Fedorov-like injury during the season.

Pascal Leclaire finally played his first full game of the pre-season, and in the process stopped 27 of 29 shots on him. Even so, it definitely was looking like it'd be a shutout before the third period and Dan Fritsche's goal in the first three minutes of it. John Grahme, though being the backup and facing 28 shots, still made some pretty slick saves and kept the 'Canes holding on to that one goal lead up until things started to fall apart in the third period. He definitely deserves credit, even though he did seem to flub playing the puck at one point, which allowed for the first Nash goal.

So what now? Well, both the Hurricanes and the Blue Jackets have a week off! 'Canes head back to that basketball heaven in Raleigh, and the CBJ stick around here and get some more training camp in before their final pre-season game on the 'Canes' home turf. With how close that game will be to the regular season, I think most everyone expects nearly finalized rosters and teams on either side. So here's hoping for an exciting game then!

One final note ... after the end of regulation, both the Blue Jackets and the Hurricanes took part in a five round shoot out, just to get a little exhibition practice in.
Jes Gőlbez will probably be happy to hear that the CBJ's first shooter was Balastik, and that even if it won't even count on the pre-season records, he once again showed just why he's such an awesome shootout guy, tallying the first of two shootout goals for the Jackets.

Incidentally, the Jackets lost the shootout 3 to 2 in the 6th round. You win some, you lose some.

Edit (7:52 AM EST): Yoinked a roster with scratches on this morning. Accordingly added that information in.

Blue Jackets: 2 ... Blackhawks: 4

On the bright side, at least this time it was just a two-goal differential.

I went to sleep at the start of the 3rd period again. It's hard to stay interested when your only option is the radio, and it's the pre-season. I have a good feeling once games start getting television coverage, it'll be infinitely easier for me to shake off my early to bed sleep schedule and stay up along with the game, as well as others on NHL Center Ice.

So what was I able to draw from this game? Well, Alexandre Picard scored yet again. To be completely honest, if he doesn't make the cut at the start of the regular season I'm actually going to be a little surprised. The kid's scored in three straight games now, and he just seems to keep getting better with each game.

As for negatives, it was once again in net as Fredrik Norrena gave up all four goals on 28 shots. Now we're stuck with a pretty bad situation concerning if it is either Norrena or Ty Conklin who'll be taking the backup role. It's almost as if absolutely nothing has been solved here ... when Norrena has a good game, so does Conklin (a la the 4-1 win over the Sabres where they shared net duty). But if one has a bad game? The other also does, thus keeping the whole contest close.

Don't expect to see either of them in net anymore this pre-season, either. Pascal Leclaire is finally being put in net as of tonight against the Carolina Hurricanes. We'll see how that works out, since this will be his first full game in goal, and second time since the opening pre-season game against Nashville where the Blue Jackets won 2-0.

Edit (4:25 PM EST): Aaron Portzline's article in The Columbus Dispatch on last night's loss is a Godsend, as it allows me to see a couple of goofs I made. In particular that one of the goals against the CBJ was an empty netter, and that another of the goals was deflected in on a defenseman's skate. So I want to take back a little bit of the heavy handed criticism of Norrena over last night's game.

Blue Jackets: 2 ... Blackhawks: 5

Friday, September 22, 2006
Now yesterday I could at the very least use the freshness of a majority of the blue line and a lack of star power on the forward lines as an excuse for an 8-1 beatdown at the hands of the Nashville Predators.

Tonight? Not so much. With Westcott, Nash, and Klesla -- among others -- in the mix tonight, and the opponents being the Chicago Blackhawks with a goalie with a mere two games of NHL experience overall -- Corey Crawford -- they really should have had a good chance at winning tonight.

But they didn't. In fact, they didn't even come close.

Now, sure ... the Blue Jackets did manage to go ahead by a goal sometime in the 2nd period, and tallied a power play goal in the process. But that was far from enough. Why? Because the penalty kill imploded. Three goals against on the PK, along with a four-on-four goal against them while Nash was in the box for a double minor. Then there was the fifth goal in the waning couple of minutes in the game, just around the time you'd consider pulling the goalie.

To add insult to injury (pun not intended), Rusty Klesla got hit with an 'intent to injury' via a Clipping major call in the latter half of the third period, adding a sense of bush league-ness and sad desperation from the Blue Jackets. Definitely not a good night down at Nationwide Arena.

With this loss, the Jackets are now 2-2 in the pre-season. One win against both Nashville and Buffalo, then a smearing by the Preds followed by tonight's loss to the lowly Blackhawks.

I tend not to make predictions, as they're usually something I like to avoid. But in this case, I'll make an exception. If the Blue Jackets manage to win on the road against the Blackhawks tomorrow night? Then I say they split the two-game series against Carolina. If they lose? Get ready for a long end to this short pre-season, as I would then foresee a couple of crushing defeats at the hands of the 'Canes to wrap things up this month.

Beyond predictions and general game reaction, let's talk about Ty Conklin. Five goals in the game, which is one goal more than Fredrik Norenna gave up yesterday against the Preds. The difference, of course, is that Conklin was in it for the long haul, playing the full 60 minutes tonight. Norenna, meanwhile, played only half of his game. So it's hard to say who has the advantage in this backup goalie battle right now. It doesn't help that since none of these games are on TV here, comparisons can't be drawn concerning how the goals got in, or how the goalies played, outside of what is described over the radio.

Either way, something needs to be done concerning the final three pre-season games. As for what that is, who knows? All that seems to be confirmed right now is that for the last two games, Pascal Leclaire will most likely see all 60 minutes of each of those games in preparation for the start of the regular season. Well, at least that's something to look forward to.

Blue Jackets: 1 ... Predators: 8

This one turned pretty nasty pretty quickly. By the time I had finished my evening exercising and tuned in to the game on the radio, the Jackets were already down 4-0 in the middle of the first period. I managed to sit through this slaughterfest until about midway into the second period before I decided I was feeling pretty tired and went to bed.

Anyway, James Mirtle immediately moves to point out just how thin the Jackets are without Sergei Fedorov in the line-up. I get the distinct feeling that he may not have considered that even if Fedorov was healthy today, he may not have played. A good chunk of star talent and regular blue-liners were not in the line-up for last night's game. Nash and Malhotra didn't make the trip to help out the forwards, and the defense line-up was a total hodgepodge that lacked Berard, Foote, Klesla, and Westcott. Like I mentioned in my previous post, this team that played was pretty discombobulated and lacked a lot of the better talent the team has, only playing less than a handful of players with respectable NHL experience. The reason for this, most likely, is because this was the first game in a set of four games in four nights. And with a home game happening tonight against the Blackhawks, I can only presume management wanted to keep the better players fresh for a Friday night crowd, as well as not make them travel as much as they would have had to had they gone to Memphis.

Remember, Fedorov went down first thing in the second period last night, yet the Jackets still scored four goals against a Sabres team which was using Ryan Miller in net, all coming after his injury.

This isn't to take away from the Predators' win, though. They came ready and revved up for this game, and Vokoun was on his game. They skated circles around the Jackets' thin-skinned defense, and as a result were able to have their way with them from start to finish.

In any event, Fredrik Norenna and Tomas Popperle both got shelled for four goals apiece in this game, throwing a lot of things up in the air. Popperle had been the best goalie coming out of the rookie tournament as I mentioned prior, and Norenna had done a damn good job a few nights ago after relieving Ty Conklin midway through the Sabres game. It's hard to tell how this will affect the backup goalie race. Popperle already only had an outside chance and is expected to go to Syracuse. Meanwhile, this could harm Norenna's backup aspirations, and give Conklin an edge. If Conklin plays tonight (and I am going on the presumption he will be playing half of tonight's game while Leclair plays the other half), this will be his chance to take advantage of Norenna's hiccup in net down in Memphis.

And now I'm going to go get an early start on things I need to do this morning. This early morning waking up is definitely throwing me out of whack. Ugh.

Michael Vick loves anime, and other assorted tales of intrigue!

Thursday, September 21, 2006
Before I get in to the nitty gritty details of what's going on with the Blue Jackets, a little doozy of a picture I stumbled across on one of the forums I frequent daily:

Michael Vick, that feisty and nimble quarterback of the NFL's Atlanta Falcons, apparently likes anime. That pretty much makes my day. My best guess is that he must have been at Dragon*Con, which is a large comic book convention down in Atlanta which happens at the start of September.

With that little chuckle-worthy point of interest out of the way, let's get to what's happened in Columbus, where everything seems to be moving at a whirlwind pace ever since the end of that 4-1 pre-season scrubbing of the Buffaville Prebres.

First off is the big news, which concerns Sergei Fedorov and his sprained shoulder (I bet Christy at Behind the Jersey could come up with a better description of shoulder spraining than the Dispatch has). All signs point to no surgery being required, but Fedorov is still pretty down and out about it, as he talks about in The Columbus Dispatch:

"Unfortunately for me, it’s very upsetting at the moment. All this hard work is gone to nothing. I’m not very happy with that turnout. I was surprised there was no penalty called on the play."
Regardless, he'll be out between four to six weeks. Drew at End of the Bench is quick to point out that while this might seem like a dark beginning to the season which begins on October 6th for the Jackets, Fedorov will miss only four games at the least, and nine games at the most, so long as he returns in that timeframe. Godspeed, Fedorov!

Meanwhile, there's a little conflict of reporting going on, as despite Michael Arace reporting that MacLean is standing pat and saying he isn't going to start brokering a deal for any new players -- or try negotiating again with Nikolai Zherdev -- with Fedorov going down for a while, Aaron Portzline reported earlier that scouts from the New Jersey Devils and Anaheim Ducks -- two teams looking to make some cap space -- were seen skulking about Nationwide during the game against the Sabres. So now the question is what were they doing there? Anaheim you can pass off as just checking out the competition, but the Devils only have one game (in New Jersey) against the Jackets this season, so scouting at this point in the season seems rather silly.

Lastly, 2006 1st round draft pick Derrick Brassard has been given a three-year contract with the Jackets as of today. I guess ol' Dougy doesn't want him slipping away even though he's now got a surgery-requiring injury that'll keep him on the sidelines for at most half a year. The surgery will be this week in Cleveland, by the way. Considering it's your typical entry-level contract, there really isn't much to be bothered about, even if common sense might leave some people scratching their heads at signing Brassard while he's injured. Then again, MacLean did sign Steve Mason in the 3rd round of this draft, despite the fact he also got hit with the injury bug, which left him unable to show his full potential before the draft.

In any event, tonight the Jackets are down in Memphis -- not Nashville -- to meet their Central Division rival Predators for a little Elvis-style rock'n'roll. Checking the roster for tonight, it looks like the team is going to be a little on the fresh side, with only a total of 3-4 players having at least three seasons worth of games apiece under their belt. Norrena and Popperle will be backstopping the Jackets tonight. Popperle definitely earned some brownie points with his hard work at the NHL Rookie Tournament a few weeks ago, so this is probably the team's way of rewarding him. Popperle also had an outing last week in the first pre-season game for the Jackets, also against the Predators, where he stopped 23 of 23 shots after relieving Pascal Leclaire mid-way through the game. Let's hope that mojo of his is as ready as ever for tonight's game.

Blue Jackets: 4 ... Sabres: 1

Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Even though it is only two games in to the pre-season, you can't help but be pretty excited about things after how tonight's game went. Once again I was only able to follow so much due to the game being on the radio and not on the television (I am a much better visual guy than a verbal guy), but I was able to draw from several things just from listening:

-3 for 6 on the Power Play. After an abysmal 0 for 10 or so the other night against the Predators, this was definitely a pleasant surprise. Rick Nash scores on the 5-on-3, followed by a 5-on-4 tally by Jaroslav Balastik. The two other goals were by Syracuse staple Geoff Platt, and new top six forward Anson Carter (I think it was Carter with the third PP goal).

-Ty Conklin and Fredrik Norrena are going to be fighting neck and neck for the backup role for the rest of training camp and the upcoming pre-season games. To be honest I had some serious misgivings about the two of them working the tandem during tonight's game, mainly because of the stigma concerning Conklin, and then Norrena having no NHL experience. But as it turned out, despite the Jackets being severely outshot (26 to 41), the goalies were who stood on their heads and kept them in this one.

The shot differential is still a concern. Last season the Jackets had the same problem, where they would simply not shoot the puck. Ironically it seemed like when they did shoot the puck, it actually hit home. So the question is if they can start putting more shots on the net.

-Fedorov went down early in the 1st 2nd period, and never came back. Definite concern there. There's been no word on anything new since he left, but apparently it involved an injury to the shoulder. Here's hoping we don't find ourselves down an injured, key player at the start of the regular season. Lord knows we don't need that happening yet again.

With this win under the Jackets belt, they're now 2-0 so far this pre-season, and tomorrow training camp resumes. After that, the team heads down to Nashville to play the Preds, as they begin a four games in four nights bum rush that sends them to Nashville, back to Columbus for the Blackhawks, then to Chicago, and once more back to Columbus to meet the Hurricanes. This'll definitely be an exciting long weekend!

Behind the Blog, and wises up!

Monday, September 18, 2006
First off, I wanted to thank Christy of Behind the Jersey immensely for letting me take part in her Behind the Blog segment. :D It was fun taking part in it! I really should think about doing something like this myself, actually. All sorts of things go on in the blogosphere to help show off fellow bloggers to other readers, such as Paul Kukla's and Alanah's "Around the Blogosphere" coverage, and then the Carnival of the NHL which a few bloggers in particular take part in such as Off Wing and Jes Gőlbez, among others.

Moving on, though, Kukla came out with a pretty interesting entry today concerning Remember a while ago when I made that post comparing the different websites for the big four sports leagues in North America? It looks like there was some rumbling at the main office in New York City, as starting on October 3rd -- the start of the regular season -- is going to be given a major overhaul!

This excites me, people. The NHL's website has been behind in so many ways compared to the other sports leagues for a while now. Honestly, I think that most anything they do has to be better than what is the current website for the league. So let's just cross our fingers and hope for the best here.

Blue Jackets: 2 ... Predators: 0

Here's a fun little fact at 6:24 in the morning (by EST standards) ... as of yesterday's 2-0 exhibition game win by the Blue Jackets over the Preds, I'm now blogging this blog for the first time while the Jackets are playing. When I had started in May the Jackets were already dead as a doornail, and the Oilers made it to the finals two days later.

I was only able to follow so much of last night's game as I listened over the online webcast done by WFAN. If there is one sport that has a hard time transitioning to the radio, it is definitely hockey. After that comes basketball. Football and baseball you have the luxury of pauses between each throw, rush, hit, out, whatever. But it was still great to finally be able to hear the Jackets in action again, and with a win no less. One of the things I noticed was Tomas Popperle's rock solid play in goal after he came in to replace Leclaire in the middle of the game, along with what I think was three or four fights. The broadcasters were definitely having a ball with the apparent saves that Popperle was making last night.

The team has off from any exhibition games today before they go on a five games in six days tear between Tuesday and Sunday. Up next? The Buffaville Prebres (Buffalo Sabres). I think I read somewhere that they won't be playing in their new jerseys until the official start of the regular season. Ah well. I probably won't be going to this game either due to financial issues. But just a few more weeks and I'll be going to opening night against Vancouver!

Good times. With that, I'm going to take a morning nap. It's really too early for me to be up when I have nothing to do today class-wise or anything else-wise.

This is my obligatory "immature" post of the month.

Sunday, September 17, 2006
Dear Robert Picarello,

When you start making power rankings that don't revolve around a team's overall record alone each week (if I wanted that I'd just sort the standings page to show league standings), I'll start taking your team reviews seriously. Until then, you can take your 14th place Blue Jackets finish and shove it.

With Love,
Michael D. Turner

P.S. Try working in statistics. That's all your cruddy power rankings are, anyway. All numbers, no commentary.

Sabres unveil new jersey.

Saturday, September 16, 2006
Well, apparently an outcry from Buffalo Sabres' fans (and probably a lot of hockey fans in general) didn't stop the Sabres from unveiling the feared and generally disliked "Buffaslug."

Yesterday, Sabre Ratting commented on how he was glad he waited to pass judgement until he saw the full jersey himself. And it's true, the jerseys as a whole look fine. But I couldn't help but feel that it looked familiar. A little too familiar ...

Listen, folks. Obviously I am no jersey designer, but the shared colors just seems a little too obvious to disregard here. If that wasn't enough, consider that both of these jersey designs are by the wonderful people at Reekbok (or RBK). The only real difference I can see here is Nashville's mustard yellow line across the bottom of the jersey, as well as an emphasis on more silver along the shoulder and arm sections of the jersey.

But, hey, whatever. You get what you pay for. Maybe I'll start calling them the Nashville Sabres, or Buffalo Predators. Or the Buffaville Prebres (wtf?). Maybe the Nashalo Sabators?

Okay, okay! I'll stop. Maybe it's just the bad angle of the picture taken of the new Sabres' jersey. Either way, I'm not impressed.

Missing the bus, among other things.

Friday, September 15, 2006
So I went to sleep early last night with hopes of getting up early enough to miss the rush hour on the public transportation buses (COTA), and get to Nationwide Arena to see the start of training camp. The only time I've ever even been to a training camp was when I was 17 and living back in New Jersey, when I went to South Mountain Arena to see the Devils.

(Incidentally, one of the drills that really stood out to me at that camp was where the players put their sticks on the ice, and then had to jump over it, back and forth. Definitely something I couldn't do nowadays.)

In any case, not only did I not wake up early enough to avoid the hustle and bustle of people getting to work, but I also realized that I had way too much on my plate in terms of classwork due today. So alas, I was training camp-less!

But as always, The Columbus Dispatch was on the scene, with coverage concerning team opinion on the acquisition of Anson Carter, as well as the team doing their best to move on without Zherdev. Carter was not at the first training camp of the season, as he had to attend a funeral elsewhere. Even though the presumption is he'll return either Saturday or Sunday, I'm guessing if he did return Saturday it would not be in time for the second day of training camp.

Meanwhile, our veteran of a rookie -- Fredrik Norrena -- was out on the ice and as expected was doing his best to show that he was the man to be Pascal Leclaire's backup this season. While there are definitely reservations about the fact that he has never played in the NHL and yet is 32 years old, I think the consensus is that he's going to win the backup role over Ty Conklin.

Closing up, I wanted to get back to Drew from EotB and the couple o' questions he tossed out yesterday in comments:
Here's the million dollar question: With the addition of Carter probably finishing up the roster moves for the pre-season (with the outside possibility of a Zherdev miracle), do you see this team as having a shot at the post-season? On the flip side of that, do you think they would have had a chance with Zherdev?
Well, I already know your answer to that question after seeing your seeding predictions this season, don't I? :D Okay, but seriously. Do I think the Blue Jackets have a shot with Carter? I'm going to go against the odds and say that, yes, the Jackets do actually have a chance. In fact, I'm going to say that they probably have a better chance with Carter than Zherdev.

Zherdev's the sexy pick because he's young, he's explosive, and he has many years ahead of him to grow and become a superstar, obviously. But in the past couple weeks I've been putting this into perspective, and I realized that even with last year's 53-point season, I still am bothered by Zherdev's inability to try and be a "team player" (I know, that phrase is so played out). Though it's been mentioned by pundits ad nauseum, Zherdev has yet to make any sort of strides towards learning to be valuable when having to play defense. He still has issues with sharing the puck with others. He hasn't taken strides towards becoming a better communicator with other team members and the coaches, as can be noted by his lethargic attitude towards learning more English. If we had Zherdev now, and Carter was elsewhere, I would have to say the Jackets would finish out of the playoffs, on the grounds that he is still too one-dimensional. Worse, he's more than likely going to stay one-dimensional because he'll be playing in Russia this season, where he won't be challenged in any way, shape, or form.

Do I hope some sort of miracle contract is worked out before the start of the season? Of course I do! But I'm not holding out hope, and I'm ready to put my faith in Carter, even if the opinions on him vary from "leftover premiere free-agent scraps" to "solid, two-way veteran."

Local boy Fritsche and Blue Jackets come to terms.

Thursday, September 14, 2006
Amidst the hullabaloo around Zherdev and the recent acquisition of Anson Carter as a stop plug for any hemorrhaging the Blue Jackets might face without Nick, the Jackets and Doug MacLean have finally hammered out a two-year deal with Dan Fritsche, who was the other notable Jacket without a deal and holding out.

It looks like there was middle ground between the two camps, when you consider the specifics of the deal. The first year of the deal, Fritsche is given $475K if he sticks with the Jackets, or a consolation $60K if he is assigned to the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL (so a two-way deal). At the moment specifics aren't really out there yet, so I'm not sure how that works. I'm going on the assumption here that it'll all depend on just how much he plays for either the Jackets or the Crunch, since "if he's assigned" is very ambiguous.

Regardless of what happens the first year, the second year of the deal is what Fritsche's camp had been looking for: a one-way deal. At $750K, Fritsche won't have to worry about being sent down to Syracuse.

All in all, I get the feeling this was something that was done for the fans, what with Fritsche being an Ohio native. MacLean wasn't under any pressure to re-up Fritsche, and as much as I like the guy, he's currently not shown himself to be an important or key part of whether or not the Blue Jackets succeed this year or in the future.

As an aside, TSN is saying that regardless of this duo of signings yesterday, the Jackets are insisting this will not impede negotiations with Zherdev. Well, either way, at this point I think most people have resigned themselves to the notion that he'll be playing in Russia this season.

Meet Anson Carter! ... the Nikolai Zherdev replacement?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Haha! Oh, wow. I'm not sure what to think here. With Zherdev's time winding down before the start of training camp, MacLean continued to talk more and more about the possibility of going back into the free agent market in search of someone who could plug the hole that the Blue Jackets would have if a deal was not made with our feisty Russian forward.

Of course with MacLean's history in the free agent market this off-season, no one really expected he'd do anything big. He'd probably find some random forward who hadn't played for a year, or some minor league player who hadn't had a chance in the NHL yet, and throw him to the lions.

But, no. What did Dougy do? He signed Anson Carter.

The contract (which for once actually has terms disclosed) is for one year, and amounts to $2.5 million. This is actually $500K less than what was being bandied around the league that Carter was looking for. Much of that difference in what he wanted and what he got most likely has to do with just how close to the start of training camp it is right now, and Carter's desire to play at the start of a season, let alone at the start of the pre-season.

Now let's put Carter's accolades into perspective. He's had a bit of an on again-off again history with his season points output, with the difference between his 2003-2004 and 2005-2006 seasons being a decent example of how he can reach the some pretty high levels of output, but can be shut down as well.

Another issue to keep in mind is that he's only been able to finish one season back in 2001-02 with all 82 regular season games under his belt, as well as a near-perfect 81 game attendance record last season. Does this mean he's a liability? Well, it's a possibility, but I wouldn't say so.

The one-year deal that Carter will be getting makes sense, as well as cents. What we see is most likely what we get from Carter, seeing as he is 32 years young at this point in his career. I'm not so sure that I would have seen any better output from Zherdev this season than I saw last season, in large part because of his inability play defense when needed, as well as a lack of rounding in his game. Carter, meanwhile, is nearly 50/50 when it comes to his points being dispersed between goals and assists.

I do know one thing, though ... when I go down to the start of training camp this Friday, I can't wait to see him in action with the other guys.

Edit (5:17 PM EST): I do want to add, concerning the comment about Zherdev and his kind of output. Even though Zherdev does actually have more assists than goals (48 to 40), it isn't so much what amounts for most of his points, but the way in which he plays. One of the key issues last season (and Rick Nash was also guilty of this often enough) was selfishness with the puck. Carter, to my knowledge, does not have this sort of issue. And if he does, it isn't as detrimental or noticable.

Additional commentary on the dope-induced DiPietro deal.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006
I don't know if anyone else has seen this yet, but something that caught my eye tonight was the interview between TSN's Rod Smith and the Islander's former-goalie-turned-GM Garth Snow. Right now it's currently the top most sub-link on the article splash on TSN's site concerning the deal.

To me, it looks like Garth Snow is just about ready to fall out of his chair and faint. And if that interview had gone on any longer than it did, I swear he would've become more and more like Porky Pig in his conversation skills, stuttering all the way from start to finish.

You can almost see the nervousness that seems to be dripping off of Snow. As if he knows that Charles Wang is ready to drop the axe on his neck if he makes even the slightest out-of-line comment in the eyes of "the committee."

Wanging it up on Long Island!

Okay, wow. Is this really happening?

New York Islanders sign Rick DiPietro to a 15-year contract

So let me get this straight. The total amount of this contract is $67.5 million, with the yearly salary being $4.5 million. And if he has to retire due to a career ending injury, he's still guaranteed the money?

Looking beyond the shocking -- and I mean shocking -- length of the contract, the yearly salary is still modest ... but that all hinges on if DiPietro actually becomes a better goalie. So far, his best season consisted of 50 games in 2003-2004, and racking up a .911 save percentage. His overall save percentage is an even .900 over his four seasons playing any games at all with the Islanders.

Adding to that, the guy is virtually untested in the playoffs. With the exception of one game in 2002-2003 where he was injured (stopping all of 3 shots he faced before going down), and then five games in 2003-2004 (he racked up a .908 save percentage and 2.17 GAA), he has had no chance to show if he can pass muster when put in the playoff pressure cooker.

So why do this? What is it that the Islanders' "GM by committee" knows that the rest of us don't? Look at amazing goalies such as Nikolai Khabibulin, who everyone thought would continue to be a "Bulin Wall" all his career, only to become roadkill between winning the Stanley Cup and then signing with the Blackhawks.

Of course that is a bit of an extreme example. Nonetheless, 15 years? While at the moment we can say the yearly salary is definitely a good deal, it's much too risky to go making such a long contract, not knowing what to expect from DiPietro in even the near future.

It seems at the moment that just going by the comments left on TSN's article concerning the deal, people are actually pretty split on ths matter. Honestly, this makes me head spin.

Brassard injured, and 'Between the Pipes' antics.

Monday, September 11, 2006
Well, originally when I read the news about Derick Brassard and his recent shoulder dislocation, I just short of shrugged my shoulders and figured it probably wasn't too big a deal. Dislocations, for all intents and purposes, usually aren't as dire as some of the other injuries out there that a hockey player must deal with.

But as luck would have it, this injury that Columbus' 2006 1st round draft pick got near the end of last week is turning out to be more than just a simple dislocation. In fact, it appears as though something may have torn in the muscles.

So now word on the situation is that Brassard may very well need surgery that could sideline him from training or his junior team for at least half a year. Brassard was supposed to be coming to Columbus sometime during the course of this week (or the weekend that just passed) and get checked out by Blue Jackets medical staff and doctors to see if surgery really is needed.

It's sort of sad. I mean, there was most likely very little -- if any -- chance that Brassard was going to crack a spot with the team this year, and was going to return to the Drummondville Voltigeurs. But even so, he was also set to take part in the ongoing NHL Rookie Tournament in Michigan, which would have been a great way to show off his talent not just to the Jackets, but also to other people in the league.

Either way, I hope he recovers quickly. We can't go and start having every last one of our rookies or draftees getting hurt, you know? Brule and Nash last season still haunt me quite a bit. Ugh, gives me the heebie jeebies, or something.

Also, as I touched on in the last entry, 'Between the Pipes' -- the weekly Blue Jackets hour-long show on 1460 THE FAN started up again on Sunday with interviews with GM DougMacLean, Coach Gerard Gallant, and third-line grinder Jason Chimera.

... only problem is Gallant and Chimera turned out to both be no-shows, and so after MacLean's interview over the phone was over (he was up in Michigan to see the rookie tournament), this left hosts Mark Wyant and Bill Davidge ad-libbing the whole darn thing, just sort of prattling on back and forth. No phone calls, no e-mails, no nothing. Not that it wasn't great to hear hockey talk on the radio once more for the first time since the draft, but you got to admit that when you're excited about hearing from Chimera and Gallant, the show doesn't really hold much of a flame compared to what you were expecting.

Something of interest, though. Davidge mentioned in the show that when tickets went on sale Saturday, and both team and media personalities for the Jackets were showing up at the different ice rinks around the area to help sell them, who did they spot?

Mario Lemieux.

That's right. Lemieux was at the Chiller Easton. Can you believe it? Apparently he was there coaching his daughter's hockey team, and there was a tournament going on. So no one even had a clue that this was happening!

Now I wish I'd gone. [Insert sad face here]

Meanwhile, in other less stressful Blue Jackets news ...

Saturday, September 09, 2006
We've got entry level contracts, rookie camp wins, and the return of hockey to the local radio airwaves! Finally!

Trevor Hendrikx - the drafting, the redrafting, and the signing

Well, second time's a charm, I guess. But actually taking a look at his numbers, I like the kid. He looks to be a rough and tumble defenseman who not only seems to be a pretty good assist getter, but isn't afraid to stick up for the team (I'm going on the presumption that a lot of those penalty minutes are for fighting, after all). The concensus is that he'll probably be in Syracuse this coming season, but considering both his age and his good minor league season last year, it might not be too much of a stretch to see him come up for a game or seven with the Jackets in the event of an injury, or someone else's lack of good play on the blue line.

Rookie/Drafted CBJs win in Traverse City, MI

Yesterday a plethora of prospects, rookies, and drafted players for the Blue Jackets played in the first of several games in the Annual NHL Prospect Tournament, beating the Minnesota Wild's own prospects 4-2. It's nothing too big, but at the least it's a nice thing to mention when thinking about the future of the team. Steve Mason and Dan LaCosta backstopped the prospective CBJs in the game. I remember watching them at the little rookie training camp a month or two ago, and liking what I saw of them. Then again they were all I could focus on, since none of the other players were recognizable (no numbers except for some very tiny ones on their helmets).

'Between the Pipes' back in action starting tomorrow at 10-11 AM

I'm so happy to finally have Between the Pipes back ... even if it is at an ungodly hour on a Sunday. Sundays are my sleeping in days, man. Cut me some slack!

In any event, a trio of special guests will be in the studio. MacLean, Gallant, and Chimera. Considering the whole thing is only going to last an hour in all, I'm betting they'll all be in there at the same time. I'm going to do my best to get up early enough to listen, since I want to try and send a call in, or even just an e-mail if they're also accepting those. I got a feeling me and about several dozen other people will be wanting to call and ask about anything new with Zherdev, so I'm going to try and think of something else to ask if I can get through.

So they finally decide to resume contract negotiations ...

... and nothing comes of it. So far, at least.

As first reported by Michael Arace at the Dispatch, there is quite the range difference in what Nikolai Zherdev wants compared to what Doug MacLean is willing to give. Let's compare the respective offers that have been bandied back and forth:

1-Year Deal
MacLean: $1.25 million
Zherdev: $2.75 million
Difference: $1.5 million

2-year deal
MacLean: $3.9 million
Zherdev: $5.75 million
Difference: $1.85 million

3-year deal
MacLean: $6.9 million
Zherdev: $9 million(!!!)
Difference: $2.1 million

You know, I could have sworn that earlier on in the negotiations, Zherdev and his agents were touting a lower salary if they were given a longer contract, compared to just a one- or two-year contract. Now all of a sudden, the longer the contract the higher the price tag they want? Well, that doesn't exactly make much sense. In a salary cap world, a margin of $600K can still be a real difference, especially if you want some wiggle room later on in the season or in the coming year.

I also want to know what happened with that "one week" deadline that was thrown down on the table about ... what, three weeks ago? I get the feeling that MacLean is starting to flinch. He might not be outright blinking as he tries to stare down Zherdev and his agents, but he's definitely flinching. Does this mean that soon enough we'll see Zherdev flying back to the United States and suiting up for the pre-season?

I'm tempted to say that unless a deal is done by the start of training camp Friday -- as is mentioned in the article -- Zherdev will be playing in Russia this season. But then again you never know. Parallels have already been made between Zherdev and Thrasher's 2005 hold-out Ilya Kovalchuk, and how he came to terms with Atlanta mere moments before negotiatons were going to end.

Let's consider Zherdev's contract demands from a salary cap standpoint, using Jes Golbez's table on the Jackets' salary that was made back in July, along with whatever has on any newer contract and salary figures. With about $6 million in wiggle room (actually, probably even less due to undisclosed contracts and the possibility of any two-way contract players making it up to the big show this season), I don't know if MacLean could even give Zherdev $3 million a year (the 3-year deal) if he wanted to. As it is, I seem to recall MacLean trying to avoid being so close to the salary cap ceiling before the season even started.

If he's going to buckle under the pressure and give in to any of the deals? I'd say go with the 2-year deal. It just seems the best route to go without breaking the bank on a player who -- while amazing -- still has much to work on.

Alive and well ... just very bored.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Forgive the lack of activity lately. I've decided that with nothing more than Zherdev/MacLean posturing going on here in Blue Jackets' Country, that I'd be better off doing things besides writing long-winded, fluff rants. For example, I'm working my tail off to get back into favorable physical shape, and have been at it for about two weeks in all now. It's definitely a shock to the system when you hit the ground running (both metaphorically and literally), let me tell you. I've also been busy with other personal ventures, but that's neither here or there.

I did notice something of great interest while I was browsing today, though. Something new on the OLN (soon to be called VERSUS) coverage. You can see it here.

In any event, the jist of it all, after you get passed the fluff and the "We're so happy to be with VERSUS! Please watch us on VERSUS!", is that they've managed to get another 7.2 million households into the VERSUS fold since the start of the year, putting the total households around 70 million in all.

Before I continue, let me share a conversation I had in IMs with a friend of mine over this:

Mike: So, VERSUS. They added another 7.2 households to their distribution across the country.
Molly: Wow!
Mike: ... wait, crap. I meant 7.2 million!
Molly: ::Laughs!::

A total freudian slip right there, folks. And come on, you know it's funny!

But gags aside, I've stood by OLN/VERSUS so far. I'm definitely in the minority when I say that, sadly ... but I'm of the opinion that until they're given at least a pair of years to get things rolling, judging should be reserved ... or at least kept tame. It's already been stressed by bloggers and pundits far and wide that they had hardly any time to be ready and set up for the NHL season when they won the deal, so cut them some slack.

The article on VERSUS at Wikipedia (onoz! Wikipedia!) also points out interesting key facts, such as their very determined drive to grab something -- anything -- away from ESPN. While they have yet to actually succeed beyond the NHL, there are still opportunities coming soon, such as an MLB package among other things.

I'll continue to give VERSUS the benefit of the doubt. It might be painful at times, but damnit, at least they give hockey coverage!

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About Me

Name: Michael
Home: San Tan Valley, Arizona, United States
About Me: A mid-20s male who feels much too old even before he's 30. Has a degree in Sport Management and after branching out and trying a few other things in the job market, has finally decided to go back to his first love of hockey and hope he can break in with a team, big or small, somehow.
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