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Blue Jackets Links

A little cup of humor this Thursday morning ...

Thursday, September 20, 2007
Jackets won 4-3 last night in Chicago. From what I've read and heard, it was a rousing game, and apparently Jared Boll is Clubber Lang on skates. It makes me very sad that it wasn't broadcast anywhere, and I was only able to listen to the 3rd period on the radio.

Anyway, as I was checking my mail before going to bed last night, I got an automatic e-mail from the NHL Hockey Jobs Board that they send out whenever something pops up with one of the teams, or the league offices:


Hey, awesome! The Blue Jackets are looking for a new Human Resources Assistant! I should get my resume out right no-- ... hey, wait a minute. What's this? Camera three, zoom in over to the right.


No, no. I said right! More right!


Just a little bit more ...


... ... ...



The truth's revealed, folks. The NHL is -- and every team are -- all just a front for COBRA's takeover of the world.

My nostalgia and joke quota for the month is taken care of now. Next update on Saturday evening!

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Pre-season game #02: Blue Jackets vs. Blackhawks

Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Okay. I have class in a half of an hour, so I'll need to make this pre-game post quick. Apologies in advance for the lack of links, and the horrendous appearance of the post itself, as I am once again posting from one of the Ohio Dominican computers. I swear, I'm going to try and bring a USB memory stick with a copy of Firefox someday, and see if I can't get it to work on one of these pieces of junk.

This will be Chicago's first game of the pre-season. As most people know, the 'Hawks had an extremely rough year last season. Despite showing some major promise when Denis Savard took over coaching duties early in the season, and managing to creep within arm's length of a playoff seed sometime around Christmas, the Blackhawks would spiral out of control after that, finishing in the Central Division basement. In the long run, that turned out to be the best thing that happened to them, as they then received the #1 overall pick in the most recent NHL Entry Draft.

Some burning questions for the Blackhawks this season? Can Nikolai Khabibulin finally return to his Stanley Cup-winning form, a whole three seasons after? Can Patrick Kane and Jon Toews not only make the team straight out of training camp, but also bring immediate results to the team? Also, how much longer until Bill Wirtz finally realizes that the NHL is not the NFL, and so blacking out any and all non-sold out games is just plain ludicrous?

Meanwhile, in Jackets' land, prepare to see a bevvy of players tonight who did not play on Sunday. Out of the roster I saw posted at The Dispatch's new blog hosted by Michael Arace and Mr. New Guy (I swear I'll memorize his name soon), only Rick Nash seemed to be playing in both tonight's game and the one on Sunday. Nash can use this game to hopefully shake off whatever cobwebs seemed to be draped over him against the Preds on Sunday, since even with the strides that the Blackhawks are making with incoming players, they're still only projected to battle for the basement along with the Jackets. By most MSM pundit's opinions, that is.

Anyway, time for Sports History in America. If I don't return, assume I just killed myself from an overdose of baseball, football, baseball, baseball, and then more football, since that's all we've seemingly spoken about the past five weeks.

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Blue Jackets: 1 ... Predators: 3

Monday, September 17, 2007
Five thoughts on last night's game:

1) Although I had missed the full first period due to getting to the arena late (a technician from my cable provider took a day and then some to get to my house to figure out what the frack was wrong with my digital cable, and I couldn't very well leave until he came), I heard all about the injury to David Vyborny. Fortunately, as was reported on The Dispatch website later this morning, Veebs is only going to be out of commission 2-3 days with a knee sprain.

No word on whether or not Predators' forward Martin Erat will receive any sort of suspension or fine for his role in the hit. He was assessed an interference major (a new NHL rule as of this season allows for interference majors to be called now), and ejected from the game with a game misconduct.

2) Pascal Leclaire, as much as it pains me to say this, looked largely ... average. Despite a pair of fabulous saves that I was able to spot, he really flubbed communication with Jan Hejda in allowing that first shorthanded goal, and although Jed Ortmeyer's shorthanded goal -- during that same penalty -- was on a breakaway, something just didn't seem right. Possibly a result of so much time since the last time he played against anyone not in a Blue Jackets' uniform? Maybe. If he and Fredrik Norrena are being split in to separate groups for each pre-season game, he still has three more games to prove his mettle.

3) Ever the pest, Dan Fritsche drew a high sticking penalty, and also scored shorthanded on a great combined effort between him and Manny Malhotra. Fritsche looks to be back to his usual self, which is a good thing. Although Jason Chimera will be playing with the other group that is rolled out on Tuesday -- and presumably Malhotra and Fritsche will not since they played Sunday -- the combination of those three on a line is tempting, considering the tenacity those three have when it comes to grinding and staying on the puck. Additionally, Chimmer is also known for his ability to pour the pressure on during the penalty kill. Put him and Fritsche together on the PK, and you have two cautious yet highly persistent forwards who can cause havoc.

4) Without Vyborny around for the 2nd and 3rd periods, Fritsche was the replacement on the line with Rick Nash and Nikolai Zherdev. Nash looked to be sort of somewhere between on his game and sort of slogging around, while Zherdev really looked to be taking the body whenever he could and had no qualms about sharing the puck. However with Fritsche on the other wing instead of Vyborny, it just didn't seem to be clicking for them.

Zherdev did, however, seem to abstain from any desire to pull a toe drag from out of his magic bag of tricks. And honestly, that was a good sign. While certainly that sort of move has its place, it's when it is overused that you become predictable. So don't go wiping that move from your repertoire, Z ... just don't overdo it.

5) Jared Boll likes to beat the everliving crap out of people, and also check them as though they were rag dolls.

I'm off to ice my arms ... both of them. The exercises I did yesterday morning came back as I woke up today with a total vengeance.

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Pre-season game #1: Blue Jackets vs. Predators

Sunday, September 16, 2007
You know what's been awesome about this weekend? The weather. The past two days have been perfect pre-season hockey weather. Waking up to low- to mid-40 degree mornings, and the temperature for the day only peaking around the mid- to upper-60s. Frankly, I thrive off of cold weather. Muggy, humid weather ... and anything over 80 degrees makes me disgustingly uncomfortable in my skin. The wait for the first pre-season game has been far too long, and five months between last regular season game of the 2006-07 campaign and now has been torture.

The late afternoon match-up against the gutted Nashville Predators should certainly be interesting, if only because I would expect the Predators to be coming out with a whole assortment of prospects they would like to get a good look at, what with the dismantling they went through during this off-season. The Preds have honestly been through Hell thanks to the ownership issues plaguing the team right up to this very moment, and while I'm certainly not about to show any sympathy towards the team itself after the heaping amount of embarrassment they piled on top of the Blue Jackets last season (0-7-1), I can certainly show sympathy towards their fans.

And no, I'm not going to make any cracks such as "All five of their fans" or something lame. Moving along.

Their new team captain, it was revealed in the past few days, is former Devils' E-A-S-y line guy Jason Arnott (IPB might be the only bloggers I know who'd even recall that line). The memories I have of Arnott are only from my time back in New Jersey, when he, Patrik Elias, and Petr Sykora led a then-dominant Devils team to the Stanley Cup in 2000, as well as a seven game Stanley Cup Finals in 2001.

But those are some damn old memories. Either way, the best of luck to Arnott in Nashville as the team's captain; he's going to need it to rally that team, after losing quite a few key parts.

Meanwhile, over in Blue Jackets' camp, expect to see some fresh faces and prospects out on the ice tonight, as reported by The Dispatch. In all, just about half of the forwards have little to no NHL experience, while on the defensive end you have maybe two out of six players with limited experience.

Between the pipes, you're going to have Pascal Leclaire looking to get a quick start out of the gate to prove that he isn't just an injury-prone yet talented netminder, with Tomas Popperle trying to show that his poor showing at the Traverse City Prospects Tourny was merely a fluke. So a lot of players with a lot to prove.

Be sure to keep an eye out for the Rick Nash, Nikolai Zherdev, David Vyborny line tonight. It'll be exciting to see how they do when they're up against players not on the same team as they are, even if it's just a pre-season game.

What I'll be looking for when I go down to Nationwide and watch the game tonight? Besides the NZV Line, and my own personal hopes that Pazzy comes out stronger than ever, I want to see just how well Geoff Platt does. Lost in the logjam that is the center position now that Zherdev may be making a transition there, the stature-challenged but super-gigawatt charged Platt needs to do something -- and something amazing -- this pre-season if he wants to stay up here instead of going back to the 'Cuse again. Here's hoping for the best.

And with that, I am off to start my exercise regime at the fitness center! I found out the hard way last week that a personal trainer over four months would cost something like $4,000+, so after managing to pick up my jaw from off of the floor, I decided I'll just figure things out on my own at the fitness club. Wish me luck!

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In Zherdev we trust?

Friday, September 14, 2007
Don't worry. Unlike Jay Mariotti on Around the Horn, I can honestly admit when I am flip-flopping. In this case, I'd like to say I'm just about thoroughly flopped more than flipped, but that all hinges on whether or not this experiment that Scott Howson and Ken Hitchcock have cooked up with "enigmatic" Russian (did any one besides me notice the excessive use of "enigmatic" last season?) Nikolai Zherdev.

Reported on this morning in The Columbus Dispatch, and even prior to that touched on by fellow blogger Bethany at Bethany's Hockey Rants, the newest news to come out of Blue Jackets' camp is the attempt to put Zherdev at the center position.

Apparently the first day of this experiment was today, when the team that Zherdev has been assigned to for training camp took to the ice this morning. Sadly, by the time I had arrived from classes down at the arena to scope things out, the other team -- consisting of other Jackets' staples such as Freddy Norrena, Mike Peca, and Sergei Fedorov among others -- were already on the ice and doing their own thing.

Still, I was able to gleam at least a smidgeon of first-hand coverage from browsing the HFBoards. Take it away, Willien:

"I heard they were basically unstoppable and scored 10+ goals. It is different in practice than in games, but apparently there was nobody who could play with them."


Of course, take this with a grain of salt, as this was merely the very first day of training camp. And while even though, from what I saw, the kiddie gloves were off when it came to running drills, it's still not yet been seen if this combination of Zherdev, along with David Vyborny and Rick Nash on the wings can work when put to the test in pre-season games, or even regular season games.

Michael Arace, ever the insightful Dispatch writer, brought up an interesting point in the Dispatch article:

"After poring over Zherdev tape this summer, the thought occurred to Hitchcock: Why relegate Zherdev to the wall as a winger and restrict his space? Howson had the same thought. Why not try Zherdev at center? Give him the middle, where he's comfortable. It seems he can handle the defensive responsibilities of the position."


If both Hitch and Howson had the exact same thought, then there has to be more to this.

From my own perspective, though? Well, it's definitely worth a shot. Let's look at this line on a player-by-player basis ...

Rick Nash: Hitchcock has been attempting to mold Nash in to something of a rough, tough, and hard-hitting power forward since the first day he arrived. While Nasher certainly has his own type of finesse, and he can definitely run people over like a freight train if he puts the effort in to it, this gives Nash the ability to play that power forward role that Hitch is looking for out of him. With Zherdev handling a majority of the ice and able to use his creativity with that center area all to himself, Nash can get to work causing a ruckus in the slot and also in front of the goalie. Some goals might not be the prettiest, but all that matters are the goals, and not how they look.

Nikolai Zherdev: With all of center ice at his disposal, Zherdev can use all of that pent up energy of his without feeling stymied by where he is on the ice as a winger, such as being crammed up between the boards and an opposing player, or two. Zherdev, prior to his poor results last year, was known for some unique creativity. Need I remind anyone about Nikki's ol' toe-drag? No? Yeah, I didn't think so.

But in any event, as Hitch points out in the Arace article, Zherdev has shown flashes of proper responsibility in the defensive zone, as well as hustling back to defend when he has to. By giving him the center position, he's being given that extra bit of responsibility, and Zherdev should be both grateful and appreciating of that kind of trust.

David Vyborny: The team's leading point getter the past two seasons, Vyborny is just about the perfect set-up man. Put him alongside both Zherdev and Nash, and he'll be able to take advantage of either a hovering Nikki, or a scrumming Ricky, wherever they happen to be in the offensive zone. He never wastes time in moving the puck around, and he knows what to do with it.

Additionally, with both Zherdev and Nash on the same line, he will not have to worry about feeling pressured in to trying to tally goals to make up for any overall team shortcomings in the point production department. Remember that Vyborny has always been someone who will pass first, and seems to shoot only if he absolutely knows he can score. This isn't to say that Vyborny no longer has to try slipping the biscuit in to the net ... but now he can focus on setting up two players in their respective comfort zones within the offensive zone.

And that's all I got. Mind you, this is all just my personal analysis and speculation. And until I see these three on the ice tomorrow morning (I'll be heading down to scope things out again, as I'm just too excited not to watch training camp this season), I only have hearsay to work off of.

Until Sunday, folks!

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Traverse City Trounce, and miscellaneous stuff.

Thursday, September 13, 2007
One more day until the start of training camp, folks. Can you feel the excitement!?

I'm going to be heading down to catch the 2nd half of Friday's start to training camp, thanks to my music class not meeting that day. Who knows, if I am feeling thrifty enough, maybe I'll grab one of those new jerseys. The replicas will finally be available, so it might be worth checking them out and seeing how they compare to the authentics. Given, the authentics aren't out until tomorrow, too, but they've been viewable and on presentation since the draft down at the arena and the Chillers.

Anyway, I'm posting something small today, as I am currently down at Life Time Fitness, and frankly I'd be better off, you know, exercising at a fitness center instead of being on their wi-fi.

For anyone who has been keeping track, the Prospects Tourny in Traverse city, MI came to a close two days ago, with the Baby Blue Jackets representing the West, and the Baby Rangers representing the East. Led by Derrick Brassard, Tomas Popperle, Dan LaCosta, Jakub Voracek, Adam Pineault, and along with a cast of a dozen and a half or so more, the kids went 2-2, soundly thrashing thrashing the Minnesota Wild and Dallas Star prospects, and being thrashed by the Blues and Rangers prospects.

Voracek, who is hell-bent on proving that he doesn't need no stinkin' time back down in juniors or the AHL for that matter, led the team with 6 points (4g, 2a), followed by Adam Pineault, Derrisk Brassard, and Philippe Dupois with 5 points apiece. While those are some dandy point tallies for a 4-game mini-tourny for prospects, we'll have to see just how a few of these youngsters put up when the pre-season exhibition games start up.

Meanwhile, The Columbus Dispatch has really been ramping up their Blue Jackets' coverage in the last week, with near-daily articles and then some coming out on things such as Rick Nash's rebound, Voracek's impressive play, and the uplifting changes throughout Nationwide Arena and the Jackets' locker room.

Personally speaking, even if the team is being written off from the get-go by your mainstream media and more notable bloggers -- not naming names -- I still am looking forward to this season. I've resigned myself to the fact that this season could very well go the route of rebuilding and not playoff contending, and I'm okay with that. What I want to see the most is this team do their damnedest to win, from the very first puck drop on October 6th against the Anaheim Ducks, to the final(?) horn sounding against the Blues on April 6th.

With that said, I'm now off to stretch my muscles, do some treadmill running, and get beaten in to a bloody, pulpy, but hopefully more in-shape mess!

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It's become as cliche as going to Disney World ...

Saturday, September 08, 2007
"Alright, gentleman, let's pray. Heavenly Father, thanks first and foremost [...]"

And so begins the ESPN video article on Division I-A football's newest member, Western Kentucky.

Before I begin my entry, I want to precede it by disclosing here and now that I was born and raised Roman Catholic. At the same time, however, my upbringing was highly liberal and open to a variety of lifestyles, in large part because of my own family, as well as how much I traveled as a teenager.

With that out of the way, I think most of you can assume that this entry isn't going to be related to hockey, per se. It's also not going to be directly related to any other specific sport either, though. The focus of this entry is religion in sports, and how much I, personally, wish it would take a hike.

Playing sports from elementary school to high school, I can definitely say I consider myself fortunate that none of the coaches I ever had tried to impose upon me the need to pray before, during, or after games. No holding hands in a circle, shutting our eyes, and quietly "thinking" (see: praying), either. The focus of the team was on, pure and simple, the game. Not on asking God, Vishnu, Loki, Zeus, or whatever deity you believe in to help me "find the strength to win."

To me, forcing a team to pray together is tantamount to forcing a certain belief on them. The moment the team's coach, or even a lead player on that team, make any sort of reference to some sort of heavenly being, you are tempting the possibility that not every one you play alongside, or coach, has the same beliefs as you. Yet you leave them in an awkward position; one where if they try to say something, they could very well be frowned upon by the rest of the team or subjected to unfair judgment. And considering that most people in an American locker room setting will believe in some form of Christianity, it's a reasonable thing to consider happening.

Now, before any one makes any presumptions, I have no qualm with players or coaches praying, or doing whatever they want, in the confines of their own personal space, be it an office, a locker room stall, or whatever. And if other players want to join that person in prayer, then they can as well.

But I don't know. Perhaps I'm simply jaded to the use of "God" in sports. We've all seen how in pretty much every sport's championship -- though I admit, I've seen it less in the NHL -- the moment that a team has won and the exuberant star of a team is being interviewed, they like to take a moment to thank God for their success. For their win. For being able to outplay the players on another team who -- ironically -- were probably also considering praying to God, and could have very well done so just before the game.

Ultimately, it feels like such a thing has become cliche. It's become about as common as saying that one is going to Disney World after they've won the Super Bowl, the Stanley Cup, or whatever other sports trophy in North America you can think of. The sincerity behind saying such a thing seems to have been all but entirely lost, which to me just proves that there is no longer any need for such a thing in sports.

In any event, I had been considering bringing this topic up, after a similar topic was brought up in my History of Sports in America class, when every student had to write an autobiography, and was asked if sports had any religious impact on them, among other impacts (financially, socially, etc.). It wasn't until I saw this clip of Western Kentucky's introduction in to Division 1-A football that I suddenly felt enough of a pull to write about this topic.

All in all, I'm sure this may offend a few people, as I know at least a few fellow bloggers -- some who I do consider friends -- who seem to strongly associate themselves with Christianity. But that happens sometimes when you speak your mind. And honestly, my desire for secularism within the confines of the locker room and the sports field is something I feel very strongly about.

Now if you'll excuse me, I am off to brave the thunderstorm outside, and get a Nintendo Wii.

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To all the ladies out there in the hockeylogosophere!

Thursday, September 06, 2007
This goes out to all you dandy ladies, who just love pink.

I forgot to mention that during my recent excursion to The Blueline during the locker room sale, I came across these magnificent things of beauty. Made with the most prettiest of girly pink, I said to myself as I gazed, wide-eyed at this newest creation by the wonderful folks at RBK and the NHL, "Wow! I know so many people who would just die for these with their team's logo on them!"


Just marvelous! Isn't it awesome how not only is RBK catering to our wonderful female fanbase, but also took the time out of their busy schedule to make sure that those beautiful, fashionable pink jerseys would also be made in a similar manner as the EDGE jerseys? I'm telling you, I need to use my overage funds from college to get one for Sherry, and Jordi, and Caps Chick, and the residents of IPB Manor, and the ladies at Hot Oil, and especially every single lady at Hockey Ladies of Greatness. And probably many others who I've simply forgotten to mention! :D


See!? They're even adding that gorgeous cursive of each team's name to the sleeves! Chicks dig that cursive, glittery writing!

(By the way, before one of the many females who I've slighted tonight kills me in my sleep, I leave all of my blogging belongings to Drew in my will. It's been a good life!)

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The forgotten team: the Ohio Junior Blue Jackets.


Outside of perhaps myself, readers in and around Columbus, and my fellow Blue Jackets' bloggers, there are probably not all too many people out there who have heard about the Ohio Junior Blue Jackets. Part of the United States Hockey League, the OJBJ are going to be starting their second season down at Nationwide Arena this year.

Suffice it to say, there is a good reason that probably half of the city of Columbus doesn't even know that the team exists. Besides the abysmal record of 13-40 (amazingly better than the Chicago Steel's record), the team was given the short end of the publicity stick. Don't believe me? Check out this attendance average comparison from the very short Clark Cup Playoffs:


It's a little squished, but what it says is that the Junior Blue Jackets had an average attendance of 776 over the 30 home games that they played in the regular season. That's over 1,000 less than the second worst drawing team -- Chicago -- and they even fared better in the standings than the Junior Blue Jackets did!

Believe me when I tell you that the attendance for pretty much every game seemed even worse than that, if it is even possible. They didn't play in the adjacent Dispatch Ice Haus, but instead inside of Nationwide Arena itself, where the fact that there wasn't even 800 fans out of a capacity 18,136 for hockey games became depressingly apparent.

Let's get back on focus, though, and talk about publicity for this team. The Blue Jackets', for the most part, left the OJBJ for dead after just a few weeks in to the season. It was all but impossible to find anything on the team in local papers such as The Columbus Dispatch as well, meaning that the only way you could even follow the team was to go online and and check out the OJBJ's website.

I understand that the first year for teams such as this are usually pretty rough. The Junior Blue Jackets' didn't catch any breaks, as a majority of the players had to commute from places such as Cleveland, and were unable to simply stay season-round in Columbus. When you're just a U-18 kid, trips all over a state just for your home games can be annoying, frustrating, and downright ridiculous, among other things.

Financially, I'm sure the business arm of the Blue Jackets probably considers the OJBJ to be a money sink, too. Mind you, that is just my opinion, but when you have a team that loses even worse than the Blue Jackets, costing you all sorts of money to keep the arena open for just a gaggle of people, you're really not going to make even a penny off of them. It got to such a point last season that one didn't even need a ticket at times to see a game. I'm sure that doesn't sit well with certain people in the organization. Fortunately for them, the team is being unceremoniously relegated to the Dispatch Ice Haus for all but 9 games this season, unlike last season where all of maybe 3-4 games out of 30 (plus two playoff games) were played there. Those 9 games that will be at Nationwide, by the way, are in conjunction with the Blue Jackets' playing that same day, as per the press release I received from the team.

But enough griping. The reality is that things need to change, and for the most part, positive changes are being made. While the move to the Ice Haus may seem like a demotion -- and it is -- it's still a good idea. Give the team a chance to build its fanbase, let alone build a competitive team, before you go and start rolling out the red carpet into Nationwide Arena itself. The last game of the last season, for example, drew around 800 - 1,000 fans for an exciting win at the Ice Haus, and the smaller environment made that more respectable crowd seem even bigger and better.

Additionally, the Blue Jackets need to do a damn better job at promoting this team. You can't just drop a USHL team down in your arena, or your adjacent rink, and say "Here's a hockey team! Now let's just sit and wait for every one to see them!" Believe it or not, you're going to actually have to spend a little money to make a little money from them, especially with them being so new and full of probably inexperienced junior players, compared to the other USHL teams. By promoting the team outside of giving free tickets to their games to PSL holders and on certain Blue Jackets' game nights, you'll do a better job at making the team appear more like some sort of legitimate group, and not just some sideshow hanging off of the coattails of the Blue Jackets and their giveaways (even if that is what they seemed like when Ex-GMDM was around).

I don't know about any of the other CBJ bloggers, but I feel almost obligated to try and give this team at least some attention and coverage this season, in conjunction with normal coverage of the Blue Jackets. If papers aren't going to cover them, and the Blue Jackets aren't going to give them the essential marketing tools that they need to even be successful, then I say we make a concerted effort to cover them. They deserve better than this, even if they were MacLean's creation for allegedly selfish reasons.

So I'm going to try and at least make it to, or watch, a quarter of the OJBJ's games this season; 15 out of 60. It might not seem like a lot, but it's something.

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"Triumverate"? More like crap-umverate! Haha!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007
... okay, kidding. But as anyone who has End of the Bench, Bethany's Hockey Rants, or The Neutral Zone Trap on their feeds has seen in the past day, these three Blue Jackets' bloggers will be doing their own previews of the team and the Central Division as a whole in the near future. Drew/Truth, Beth, and Sarah are more than capable in doing such a thing, and I wish them the best when they're coming up with witty and/or thoughtful things to say when it gets to be their turn.

Sadly, although I'd received an e-mail from Dave at Gorilla Crouch asking if I wanted to take part, I never got back to him in time to take part. Ultimately, it's probably for the best, as I just have so much on my hands at the moment as it pertains to classes, classwork, and real work. But that's just how it goes sometimes, right?

A few things before I partake in my article critique of something in my SPM book, though.

1) As was first noted by someone over at the HFBoards, the TV schedule for the Blue Jackets is now official. 75 games will be aired on FSN Ohio, along with one game against the Dallas Stars on Versus. Although I know I'd seen somewhere else that the Jackets were supposed to play one game on NBC against the Red Wings, NHL.com's team schedules has yet to make mention of it. So for now, just assume 76 games will be aired on TV in some form or another.

Compared to last season, this is down by 4 games. There's two less games on Versus, and one less game on NBC, while FSN Ohio has stuck with 75. It's unfortunate, but the reality is that Columbus is probably a pretty horrible draw on national television. It's sad, because two of the most amazing games last season on Versus actually came from the Jackets: that early season and hard-fought win over Detroit, and then that amazing comeback win over the Boston Bruins in December.

2) Last week, I decided to head down for the Blue Jackets' locker room sale. Given, I don't exactly have the cash to go buying game-used hockey sticks or some of Pascal Leclaire's goalie pads, but the fact that I was able to actually go inside of the locker room and see what it was like was reward enough for heading down to the Arena District. The two biggest things that stood out to me were some of the things I saw in the locker room, and then something out of the locker room.

First, I was able to catch a glimpse of the fully finished ice at Nationwide. And let me tell you, it's beautiful. That star/Ohio flag logo right at center ice is made of awesome and pride-inducing emotions. Additionally, the center ice line has stars on it instead of just white dashes, something which a friend had told me was originally tossed out as an idea as far back as one or two seasons ago, but until now was soundly rejected by whoever controls that thing.

Secondly, the locker room itself was just cool to be in. The TV in there is giant, and the stereo system they have in there is quite nice. Something else I noticed was how other people who were going in there were quite ... well, quiet. It was almost like you were walking in to a church. And honestly, I liked that. Try going in to an NBA or an NFL locker room, and you'd probably get nothing like that. It isn't so much that I shun people who are loud and raucous in places like that, as much as I think the reverence of being in an NHL hockey locker room just seems to come over NHL fans more than most people who are fans of the other sports.

And third ... On my way out, I happened to bump in to quite a few different people. Let's see ... first up, Dan Fritsche happened to stop by the locker room, and gave some teen one of his sticks, free of charge. Pretty cool of him to do. Then there was Jeff Rimer, who was definitely friendly enough. I got to admit, he did look a little bored whenever he wasn't talking to anyone and just lounging on one of the benches, however the fact that he was probably going there to mingle of his own voalition means that shouldn't be held against him.

The meeting of the day, though, was seeing Scott Howson. Although I didn't say much outside of "Hello, Mr. Howson" as me and several other fans shared the elevator back to The Blueline, it was just being around him that struck me with a bit of awe. It was a little embarassing when, after exiting the elevator, one of the fans who was asking for his autograph said how much he was looking forward to him "saving the team" or something similar. I am sure that Ken Hitchcock probably felt a little sheepish when El Owner John McConnell said something like that when introducing Hitch last season, too.

On one final note, I was speaking with some of the people at The Blueline who were working that day to help run the sale, after they spotted me looking at the new Blue Jackets' jerseys. Considering where I am, I just asked on a whim if they'd be sold at a Dicks' or some other sporting store once they're released, since that is closer to me than the store itself, or even the Chiller Easton, which is still somewhat close to me now.

They told me that if I wanted to get a jersey right away, my best bet was to go to The Blueline on September 14th, or to one of the Chillers. Apparently they'll be the first to sell the jerseys in-person for a full week, before anywhere else is able to sell them. Besides, that's probably for the best, as getting personalizations through them is a lot more efficient than dealing with some other groups out there (shop.nhl.com, I'm looking at you).

And that's about i-- ... no, wait. Actually, now that I think about it, there is one more thing I should mention, only because there's been such a clamor about this both on the HFBoards as well as other places for a while now.

While at the locker room sale, being escorted on down to the locker room itself, it's worth mentioning that there was something coming from the seating and ice area that caught my eye. Loud, loud booms.

A cannon, as most Blue Jackets' fans know, is something that there's been quite the fervor for, for at least a year or so now. Now, given, it could have very well just been someone playing around with some sounds in the SFX booth, to see how a cannon-like sound would ... well, sound like, when played during a goal.

But it's worth noting that I also took note of a yellow flash coming from behind some of the pulled back drapes which led in to the lower aisles. I don't know of many sounds that also come with visuals, people.

And that's what I got. Take that as you will, as I have to now get to my studies.

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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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