How are things? No, seriously. How are things? Saw you were in Columbus recently. It was pretty cool to see the training you’ve been doing. You look trim – fifteen pounds off your frame, eh? That’s impressive. You also sounded a bit more serious in your on-camera interview. No more cocking your head to the side, voice raised a bit. Great step forward.
I’ve always liked you, Mase. I watched your Calder year – I remember standing through entire games to watch you win. There is even a Mason Blue Jackets jersey in our household based on that year. But the last two years? Man, they have stung. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t put everything on you. You were rushed through the early years of your development after London, rewarded perhaps a bit too early with that big contract and have played behind some porous defenses sometimes with only 2-3 names from our opening night roster. And what makes it worse is that sometimes, even with all that, we see glimpses of the 2009 Mason. Two years ago, we ventured to DC to watch you take on the Caps. You stood so tall in goal that night – it was a sight to behold. And then last year, there were wins against Vancouver at Nationwide, and against Detroit – 31 saves! Sometimes, you’re so so good.
Continue reading An Open Letter to Steve Mason…
One of the major questions surrounding the Blue Jackets heading into the 2012/2013 season is goaltending. Returning goalie Steve Mason appears to be the secondary option to newly acquired Sergei Bobrovsky. This is assuming the young Russian netminder can find his way back to his rookie season form, which he finished with a save percentage of .915. While I am optimistic that we will see a quality goaltender in Bobrovsky, my limited knowledge of him as a player leaves me waiting for training camp to see what he can really provide Columbus.
Mason on the other hand reads like an open book. An extremely promising rookie season was followed by a number of disappointing years for the young goalie, not unlike the rest of his team. His compete level, his conditioning, and his confidence all seemed questionable, especially when a couple of bad breaks worked against him during games. A common opinion notes the lack of success of Columbus directly relates to their goaltending situation, and with that, Mason.
Continue reading Mason/Bobrovsky Depth Chart Offers Plenty of Intrigue
Looking forward to the 2012-13 schedule, there are a few games that already are drawing the attention of the fan base so we’re putting these together into a “Schedule Showcase”. The optimist in us has us believing in the schedule as defined (no lockout) and looking towards the first Friday night game at Nationwide against an in-conference opponent. October 26th against the Minnesota Wild. Last season had the Jackets going 2-1 against the Wild, and with the off-season acquisitions of Ryan Suter and Zach Parise, the Wild certainly became a “team to watch”. Consider also that Minnesota is the former home of our head coach, Todd Richards, and winger, Colton Gilles, and this match up looks to be one that will not only be entertaining, but also a good benchmark for what these new Jackets will bring to the ice.
Here at Union Blue, we’re going to take a quick look at what to watch for, what new players are on the horizon for this match-up in the form of a prospect spotlight, and the game experience. So let’s get on with it!
Continue reading 2012 Schedule Showcase – The Blue Jackets Take on the Wild
Well, the Rick Nash trade has happened and as usual, many people had a problem with the deal. Seems like most wanted a prospect like either Derek Stepan or Chris Kreider (or both if you were feeling greedy). Notice how I didn’t say top prospect because THAT is who we got in defenseman, Tim Erixon. While he was not their top offensive prospect, according to The Hockey News future watch issue, Tim was the Rangers’ top prospect and the 17th best in hockey. When I asked Hockey Prospectus and ESPN prospect expert Corey Pronman, he said Erixon is now our top prospect and he likes Erixon a little more than 2012 top pick Ryan Murray. Continue reading Meet Tim Erixon
A lot of digital ink has been spilled over the last six months regarding the Rick Nash trade. It seemed every time a new piece of information became public, many in the media decided to take shots at Scott Howson. When it came out he asked for Logan Couture and Jeff Skinner, he was ridiculed. Nevermind the fact that you never start a negotiation by asking for the expected return, but with the best case scenario. Howson was further mocked when it came out that he was looking for two young NHL roster players and two prospects. This continued again last week when it was leaked that two NHL forwards were the pieces Howson wanted in return. After it was announced that Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Tim Erixon and New York’s 2013 1st round pick would be headed to Columbus, the same people who mocked Howson earlier mocked him again. What the hell? Howson ended up with what he was looking for. He got a good young top six forward (Dubinsky), another solid NHL player with upside (Anisimov) and two prospects (well Erixon and a 1st). I honestly don’t understand how any respectable member of the media can mock Howson for asking for “too much”, then when he makes a deal for the EXACT price he was asking for, they mock him for making a bad deal?
Continue reading Rick Nash Trade: How the Pieces Fit
As hockey fans know, Rick Nash was traded yesterday from the Blue Jackets. The trade officially brought the Nash era to an end in Columbus; however, since the original announcement that a trade was asked for in February, we’ve watched the slow removal of Nash from the franchise. It was subtle – no more Nash on the official website, his voice no longer implored us to follow the team during radio advertisements, #61 didn’t loom large over Nationwide Arena or the Columbus Airport. By the time Nash was officially “gone”, it seemed like he’d been gone for a long time. But this was Rick’s way. Quiet, under the radar. It was Rick’s blessing and curse:
Continue reading Rick Nash Has Left the Building
After months of anticipation, a Rick Nash trade was finally completed by Blue Jackets General Manager Scott Howson. What was shaping up to be another standard Monday turned into a guessing frenzy as parts of the deal began to form on social media outlets. As is common on Twitter, frustration mounted as parts of the were shared over the course of the next half hour, thanks mostly to Darren Dreger of TSN (and his inability to convince his Blackberry to type ’4′ instead of ‘s’). While the trade did not generate the ‘crazy high return’ everyone seemed to be expecting, the results of the trade were very much fair market value for Nash. It provided Columbus with the necessary pieces to continue the reshape of the team throughout the roster, along with a highly touted prospect.
The deal was as follows:
To Columbus: Brandon Dubinsky, Tim Erixon, Artem Anisimov, and a 1st round pick (2013)
To New York: Rick Nash, Steven Delisle, and a conditional 3rd round pick (2013)
Continue reading A Weight Lifted: Nash Trade Continues Reshape
Around 1AM Thursday morning, news hit the hockey scene that Shea Weber had signed an offer sheet with Philadelphia that runs for 14 years and amounts to $110MM. After we picked our collective jaws up off the floor, more details were released and we learned this contract is insanely huge, and insanely structured with $26MM alone being due in year 1 in salary and bonuses.
Predominant themes quickly arose from hockey-land. Many were shocked by Holmgren’s brazenness and creativity; others were stunned by Weber’s willingness to leave Nashville; and yet another group wondered if Poile would have the guts – and the pocketbook – to match the offer. As Jackets fans, we’re used to being the target of jokes and potshots. We’re used to suffering through situations such as “Nashpocalype”. I found myself in a position of not having a horse in the game of “who can we poke fun at for poor hockey dealings”. I watched as Nashville fans went through “accepting that you’re about to lose…something”. My curiosity led me to the weekly chat hosted by The Tennesseean. I read along with the comments in the wake of the Weber bombshell, and those Nashville fans? Well, they sounded a lot like Jackets fans.
Consider this. Read the phrases below and tell me which one was written by a Jackets fan:
[A] “At what point do you have to start holding [the GM] responsible? It seems that from last [significant dealing on major player], he’s really losing the public perception battle. Fair or not, he is seemingly losing the confidence of his players…”
[B] “…losing [all-star player] would really make it seem like the [NHL team] simply cannot compete. Would make me think long and hard about cancelling my season tickets.”
[C] “Bottom line I think they ask him if he wants to be here even if we rebuild or will he be disgruntled, if he wants to be here i believe he stays if not i think they let him walk.”
[D] “[young hot player not on your team's roster but possibly available via trade] is still young. He can still blossom. You just have to wonder if he can blossom with those coaches. Kinda like how [current/former young hot player's] blossoming has been a little stunted because of [NHL team's] coaches.”
[E] “Players that spend a significant amount of time in [your NHL city] seem to love it here. Players in the twilight of their career looking to establish a location for their families love it.”
Did you guess correctly? Continue reading Of Hearts and Minds
Many of our esteemed blogger colleagues have already ruminated long and poetic on the many complexities of the pending Rick Nash trade. What has been interesting to watch is the changing perspectives on this scenario from the non-CBJ affiliated fans and media. The headlines have long been “Rick Nash Deserves Better than Columbus”, “Trade Rick Nash”, “Rick Nash is Held Back by Everything in Blue Jackets Land”. But, in recent weeks, we’ve seen a new story line… “the price is too high”, “Nash isn’t that good”, “Nash is overpaid”.
Many Blue Jackets fans – even those who have long demanded Nash’s ouster – have seen this as a rallying cry. How dare we consider Nash to be less than the All-Star we’ve long heard him to be. However, battered as we are by last season, doubt has started to creep in and now, people are considering the possibility that Nash stays in Columbus. Maybe he just wasn’t that good after all, maybe we can’t get anything of value back.
So let’s strip the fandom, and the record, of our team away for a second and consider this situation. And let’s be careful to consider what has been shared as fact versus conjecture. What do we know?
- Rick Nash has approached CBJ leadership about being traded for the purpose of “bettering the team”
- Rick Nash has an NTC/NMC in his current contract and has submitted a list of teams for which he would waive said clause
- Offers have been made & teams have expressed interest
- Scott Howson will stand by his pre-determined standard for what is acceptable return for Rick Nash
- The Blue Jackets organization has an almost historic reputation for being tight-lipped about any movements and has often been known to zig when everyone is expecting the zag
Continue reading Thoughts on Rick Nash…and the Trade that Isn’t (Yet)
I was able to attend Blue Jackets development camp on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. In camps like this it is very difficult to really get a read on a player as a whole. What you can see is various individual skills, what players need to work on, and a frame of reference for comparison between players who play in different leagues. Practices like this are not the time to make snap judgments on someone, more to flesh out prior opinions, or provide the framework for what they could possibly bring to a game situation. So after the jump, check out my notes on all 25 players who skated in the Blue Jackets development camp (Tynan & Blomqvist were in attendance but not on-ice).
Continue reading Development Camp Notes