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Blue Jackets Links

Harsh realities; harsher comments.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007
If Ken Hitchcock doesn't know what is wrong with this team, then don't expect me to do much better when trying to come up with any sort of logical conclusions, either. After watching the Blue Jackets get felled by the Coyotes as easily as taking the trash out to the curb, I feel stunned. Crestfallen, even. Once again the Jackets are at the bottom of the Central Division, and I really can't begin to fathom what the team should do next.

One thing that seemed surprising to me was not something that happened during the game, but what I read in today's edition of The Columbus Dispatch, when in the post-game article by Michael Arace, Hitchcock is asked if there might be something more to what's going on; something involving the team personnel.

Hitchcock was quick to dance around the question, and understandably so. While most fans in Columbus consider Hitch to be the team's savior -- if not now, then in the near future -- that doesn't mean that he won't get ousted by an angered Doug MacLean if he steps too far out of line. Keep in mind that MacLean, within the past year, has treated himself to a contract extension that adds an additional three years.

Maybe I'm reading too much in to the question, though; perhaps the question pertaining to team personnel related more to the Assistant Coaches, who I have not been merciful with as of late due to the horrid penalty kill (which actually managed to go 5-for-5 on the night) and the discombobulated power play, which since the game in Calgary has begun to creep itself right back in to the "suck" level.

Back on the topic of MacLean, however, I am mildly perturbed by the inactivity by the McConnell clan when dealing with his apparent inability to properly manage this team. The team has now been playing for just shy of six whole seasons, and has yet to even make it anywhere near the bubble of the playoffs. To put this in to perspective, consider the condition of the other three most recent expansion teams (Thrashers, Wild, and Predators).

The Predators will be making their third appearance in the Playoffs this year, and could even vie for the Presidents' Trophy for the best record in the league this season. The Wild have a "Cinderella Run" to their name from the 2002-2003 season when they made the Conference Finals, have at least stayed within the playoff hunt the past two seasons, and currently are hanging on to the 8th spot tooth and nail this season. Lastly, the Thrashers are going to make the playoffs this year no matter what it seems, as they hit the ground running at the start of the season and have managed to take advantage of that early momentum to stay ahead of a gruesomely rough Southeast Division. Don't forget their near-miss with the playoffs last season as well, which would have been in the bag had Kari Lehtonen managed to stay healthy and the team didn't have to rotate more goalies than a pickup game at the Chiller Easton.

These other three teams have held on to their General Managers from the very beginning as well, but they all at least have something to show for it. Each GM has managed to do at least one great thing with the players and the personnel they brought in, ranging from Presidents' Trophy runs to top division seeding to magic Conference Finals runs.

That leaves us with the Blue Jackets, who are now seven games below .500, 15 points out of the last playoff spot with just 28 games to go. Minnesota isn't going to stay at 62 points forever, and due to the fact that the 8th seed to the 10th seed are all in the Northwest Division, there is always going to be the sober reality that either Edmonton or Colorado will just push that minimal point requirement higher if Minnesota can't cut muster. If there was ever a time to hate the unbalanced schedule and its continuation next season, now would be the time.

Think about it this way, folks; once the Thrashers make the playoffs this season, there will be only one team in each of the big four American sports leagues that has never made the playoffs in their histories. Do you know who the other three teams are?

Major League Baseball: Tampa Bay Devil Rays (est. 1998)
National Football League: Houston Texans (ext. 2002)
National Basketball Association: Charlotte Bobcats (est. 2004)

Charlotte and Houston are no more than three and five years old respectively, so they at least get a pass. But let me ask you, fans of the Blue Jackets:

How does it feel to be considered the Tampa Bay Devil Rays of hockey?

Let that sink in a little bit.

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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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