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Blue Jackets Links

Retaining the baggage.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Aaron Portzline reports in The Columbus Dispatch this morning that both Gord Murphy and Gary Agnew are close to being re-signed by the Blue Jackets for an additional two years, as well as goalie coach Clint Malarchuk.

As some of you might recall, I took Murphy to task just after the All-Star break, when the Blue Jackets had that embarrassing string of games where the penalty kill was about on par with a Tier-III junior hockey team. During that time, they managed to give up a disgusting amount of goals on the PK against some of the league's worst power play units, causing many a Blue Jackets' fan to cringe and close their eyes from that point on whenever the Jackets were hit with a penalty during a game.

While I certainly respect Hitch's desire to see both Agnew and Murphy return, I don't agree with this decision. This team had one of the lowest ranked power play and penalty killing units, and was also shut out the most times in a season in the modern NHL era while scoring one of the lowest amount of goals. To me, this screams that whatever the coordinators of both the offensive and defensive aspects are doing, is not working.

Obviously part of the blame should also be levied on the team and the players themselves, and not just on the coaching staff. After all, the blue line really was a patchwork of players all trying to piece something together, Rick Nash should have had a more productive year, free-agent acquisition Anson Carter turned out to be a bust of astronomical proportions, and Nikolai Zherdev apparently forgot how to even play hockey after he got his wad of cash from Doug MacLean.

But a good coach, be it the head or assistant, should know how to take what he has and turn it into something good ... or at least something respectable. And frankly, I don't think either assistant coach was capable of it.

Notice how I've left Malarchuk out of my criticism of the assistant coaches. Well, that's because I do believe he earned his salary, by helping Fredrik Norrena transition from international play to NHL-style play, on his way to giving the Jackets their first ever goalie with a winning record in a season. Let's not forget that Malarchuk is also who impenetrable and near-unbeatable Canuck's goalie Roberto Luongo had demanded continue to be his goaltending coach during his attempts at working out a deal with the Florida Panthers. And honestly, who am I to disagree with disputedly the best goalie in the league at the moment when it comes to what (or who) helped to make him as good as he is now?

On that note, I leave you with your daily Dis or Dat!

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Name: Michael
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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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