Peca a Jacket! ... now I vanish back into obscurity for another week.
Not that anyone here knows about said history, save for maybe one or two real-life confidantes. In any event, let's talk hockey. Let's talk Blue Jackets. Let's talk about THE MOTHERLAND!!
Yes, the Motherland of Russia, where now former Blue Jackets' player Alexander Svitov has decided to return to. Apparently even the Blue Jackets are not immune to this off season's exodus of players leaving for overseas, which includes Alexi Yashin, Oleg Tverdovsky, and Stanislav Chistov, just to name a few.
When this information first became public just around early Friday, it was hard to believe. Svitov, to most people's knowledge, wasn't in a position where if he had stayed with the Jackets he may have not gotten any ice time. Coach Ken Hitchcock had been leaning on him positively since around the middle of last season, when he apparently took a liking to the centerman's physical play. I remember even bemoaning that, too, because of my own personal preference for more spritely Geoff Platt. Regardless of that, Svitov brought with him someone who hit people hard, crashed into anything not in a Blue Jackets' uniform, and was ready to get down and dirty. He may not have ever become the draft pick Tampa Bay had thought he would be while still with them, but he was looking to be relied on in Columbus.
Then there's the fact that no more than a month ago or so, he'd signed a two-year, one-way contract with the Blue Jackets. That alone should have been enough for Svitov to understand that this team wanted to have him around, just based off it being longer than one year, and also meaning he would most likely be up with the team all season, barring a trade or injury.
Of course, without a transfer agreement between leagues in Russia and the NHL, nothing can be done about Svitov signing to two different contracts, and forsaking the one he agreed on with the Blue Jackets. The best thing to do now is to move on and hope for the best.
However, Scott Howson has to decide how to move on. And therein lies two trains of thought:
1) Going with the fact that the Blue Jackets' already have a low ceiling when it comes to their personal salary cap, as dictated by ownership and the financial arm of the team, even with the $1m - $1.25m that Svitov was going to make off the books now, might it be better to just step back, take a deep breath, and see what plays out at training camp when both regular players and prospects from Syracuse and elsewhere come to camp? If the team is losing money, and most people -- both in and out of the organization -- have written off this year as a rebuilding one, maybe it is better to tuck that extra million and a quarter away for next year, or for a possible mid-season or trading deadline move in the off chance that the Jackets are actually in the running by that time.
Players such as Platt and Derrick Brassard deserve a chance to show their mettle at training camp, and there may even be others out there in the prospect camp such as generally unknown Kirill Starkov who could surprise the coaches and hockey operations staff.
Of course -- and this is something Blue Jackets' fans have a right to be concerned about after seeing what Doug MacLean did during his tenure -- the possibility of rushing a prospect too fast should be considered as well. Brassard, as some may recall, was injured pretty badly during last year's training camp, which resulted in his sitting out a fair amount of last season with his junior team. That could have stunted potential growth, and could also mean if he was brought up too fast, the team could just have another Gilbert Brule on their hands; tons of potential, but possibly and permanently hindered due to too much pressure too early.
2) The other option is to go in to the free agent market, which is what Howson and the Jackets appear to have already done. No later than a day after Svitov's defection was reported, Michael Arace mentioned in his blog that Michael Peca had been contacted by the Blue Jackets about the possibility of signing him on to the team for a year.
Given, Peca's been in negotiations with the New York Rangers for at least a couple of weeks now, and has practically been taken off the market by them if you believe most reports on how close Peca and the Rags are to finishing up a deal. But the truth is, it's been dragging on for quite a while, and Peca is still a UFA, whether or not they are 'close' to a deal.
Even though the Rangers are up near the ceiling when it comes to the league-wide salary cap (got to love being able to spend every single penny when you have the cash to), they could probably still throw Peca a little more than the Jackets may be willing to muster up. So this could all come down to a matter of Peca's personal preferences, or if he is willing to go to a team with a more chaotic year in store than a team pretty much favored to make the playoffs this season.
At the very least, he's saying the right words. As quoted from The Columbus Dispatch:
"The most intriguing thing about Columbus -- if a scenario presented itself for me to sign there -- is there aren't many coaches I hold in higher regard as Ken Hitchcock," Peca said. "And I have a lot of respect for Scott Howson and the things he did in Edmonton that a lot of people don't know about.
"I think there's a lot of great hockey left in me. I think it'd be great to come in and contribute to a team like that."
Aw, you big galoot. You're making us blush over here in C-Bus!
But in all seriousness, so long as the price is right, this might be the best option. Prospects such as Brassard are given time to better hone their skills over with the 'Cuse, while Peca brings a bevy of experience. Although he was injured for much of last season, he still has averaged just a fraction over 69 games played per season over the last 10 seasons, 2006-07 included. So for the most part, this old war horse can be considered reliable.
That, and with four Selke trophies between him and Sergei Fedorov, who knows? Maybe that'll help make our defense just about average overall, right?
Anyway, I am off to study now.
Lifestyles of the modestly well-off and vaguely notable.
Your favorite Blue Jackets' blogger is now comfortably and happily settled in to his new stately residence, known as Chateau de Lune. Here, at this 3 1/2 star apartment at the magnificent Bradford at Easton, you'll find him wining and dining on the finest orange juice and chicken nuggets known to man, while reclining on his concrete patio (OH MY GOD I HAVE A PATIO!!).
First, let us take a stroll through the bedroom, where our swanky bachelor has made extra sure that his place of nighttime leisure is as comfortable as can be!
Nothing like a queen-sized bed to greet you as you walk in from Chateau de Lune's one hallway, complimented with a lavish nightstand, self-hung drapes, and miniature hockey sticks.
Our blogger, a bit of a pack rat, loves to keep memorabilia from his life, as can be seen by the numerous trinkets placed upon his book shelf, coupled with plaques, postcards, posters, and other things that also start with the letter 'p'!
What's this? Double allegience?! What a shocking discovery in the halls of Chateau de Lune! Nonetheless, Mr. Turner will never be able to give up the fact that the Devils own his soul after living much of his life in New Jersey, even if the Blue Jackets own his heart!
Ah yes, Chateau de Lune's base of operations, where Mr. Turner takes care of his daily classwork responsibilities, as well as surfs the Internet (also known as a "Series of Tubes") whenever he has free time. His family, lovers of the island of Nantucket off of the Massachusetts's mainland, made sure that even he had a piece of Nantucket memorabilia in his home that suited his love for hockey.
Besides the bedroom, how does Michael live in the lap of semi-luxury while in his living room? Let's take a look!
Nothing screams luxury quite like a beautiful (p)leather couch, filled to capacity with several pillows for maximum comfort. Side tables at either side ... and is that a plastic jar of animal crackers we see on the right? Looks like someone has a dirty secret even while he's been losing weight!
Here at Chateau de Lune, a flat-screen TV with PS2, X-Box, and a surround sound stereo system are what make this fine establishment all the rage for parties! Alas, without HDTV, Mr. Turner's hockey offerings are just not up to snuff.
This is where our courteous host of Chateau de Lune makes his various delicacies, ranging from spaghetti with meatballs to chocolate chip cookies, and even the occasional chicken parmesan! Unlike his previous living arrangements, this fine kitchen also has the added benefit of automatic dining ware and cutlery cleaning (a dishwasher!), meaning you won't be finding any spots on this man's plates or spoons!
And what Chateau would be complete without a beautiful dining room? With a trio of Target-bought chairs, bamboo and rubber plants for atmosphere, and hockey-related books alongside a few of the owner's own hockey sticks for a taste of Mr. Turner's personal passion, you'll be quite comfortable whenever you sit down to chow down!
Now that my horrendous mockery of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, as well as playful ribbing of IPB Manor is out of the way, you now see what I've been busy with for much of July, getting ready for my move and taking care of a variety of other things. I only got settled in just this weekend, and Mr. Turner Sr. is currently here, so I won't be making any new updates until at least Wednesday, when he heads home and I have the rest of the week to myself before my classes start at Ohio Dominican next Monday.
If anyone has sent me an e-mail over the past couple of weeks inquiring as to link exchanges or asking for my opinion on this Blue Jackets' situation or that Blue Jackets' scenario (and I know I've seen them floating around my totally overpacked e-mail box), send again or just comment here. I'm awful at responding to such things whenever I'm in the middle of something as big as all of this.
Oh, and for a few more Chateau de Lune pictures, click here! The 'Lune' part is a reference to my online handle, by the way ... Chateau de Ohio just didn't sound right, and Chateau de Army sounded even worse.
But that isn't the big story here. No, the big story -- as I found out first sometime yesterday when I saw this post by Sarah over at The Neutral Zone Trap --is that Assistant General Manager Jim Clark has been asked to relocate to Syracuse, where for the final year of his contract with the Blue Jackets he will run the Syracuse Crunch organization. After that, you can just as well assume that that is it for Clark's time with the Jackets.
Ultimately, this is for the best. Putting aside my like for Mr. Clark from a more personal perspective of having bumped in to him once or twice, there was always the nagging feelings out there -- not just my own, but from many Jackets' fans -- that Clark only got his position based off of his connections to Doug MacLean. Now don't take that the wrong way and assume I am saying that Clark doesn't know anything about hockey. If he didn't, he would have never even broke in to the National Hockey League in the first place as an executive.
But as I had stressed time and again, he all but followed MacLean from Detroit, to Florida, to Columbus. It smacked of cronie-ism, without any sort of legitimate rationale beyond friendly connections.
Still, despite my contentment with this move, I can't help but feel surprised that it happened so soon. As was mentioned, Clark only had one year left on his contract. Maybe there was pressure to move Clark out?
That question is rhetorical, by the way. Howson, in the article by Portzline, goes on to say that the new Assistant General Manager is someone who was going to be moving on very soon if he did not get new responsibilities, or a new challenge. Who is that person?
Meet Chris MacFarland. Head of the team's hockey operations since back in 2001, MacFarland has been around the team since the very beginning, first coming on to the scene sometime in 1999, a year prior to the 2000-2001 inaugural season.
Sadly, I lack a lot of information on Chris, leaving me to just go off of what I know from seeing him around. In my personal opinion? He's smart, and he knows what he's doing. He wouldn't be getting this promotion if he didn't, after all. He's a friendly guy, which makes sense since -- as his biography on the Blue Jackets' website states -- he handles so many things for the team already, which include volatile issues such as salary arbitration, and negotiations and communication with the league over the Collective Bargaining Agreement. If those were his responsibilities, I have no doubt that he's ready for a shot at Assistant GM.
I'm sure either Portzline or Michael Arace will have something more fulfilling on MacFarland sometime during the upcoming week. I'd like to hope so, since I am sure many people, including myself, are hoping for something a bit more in-depth concerning his time involved with the Jackets, how sources in the organization view him, and the like.
There's a party over here, so you might as well be here, etc. etc. etc.
Why do I assume that he has such a train of thought, you ask? Because Veebs has gone from standing firm on his decision to play out his contract (done after the 2007-2008 season), to agreeing to pursue a new long-term contract.
We could go on and on with rampant speculation about why Vyborny is deciding to stick around, but the fact of the matter is that the one remaining original Blue Jacket still playing for the CBJ is willingly coming forward to see if he could stick around longer. While Vyborny has never worn the 'C' for the Jackets, he still could be considered something of a team leader due to his seniority on the team.
But beyond his seniority, it's the fact that Vyborny is the team's best playmaker, completely unselfish with the puck (though any Jackets' fan will admit that sometimes we want to just strangle him for not shooting the puck!!). That's one reason why he is the franchise scoring leader.
As for that 'speculation' I mentioned before, my opinion is that he sees something happening within the organization that perhaps us, as fans, can't always see since we're not privy to behind-the-scenes details. But the changing of General Managers, coupled with a "slow and steady" approach to the team building process by Scott Howson -- partially by necessity and partially by Howson's own volition -- can only help to make the draw of staying on for something big all that more appealing to Veebs.
A new post will be coming a little bit later tonight, so sit tight, readers. While you're here, why not check out Skraut's newest Blue Jackets music video over in the media box to the right? I finally had time to put something new in there.