The Union Blue http://www.theunionblue.com Fri, 19 Sep 2014 14:33:52 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 Everyone is Wrong and I Hate Everything http://www.theunionblue.com/2014/09/18/everyone-wrong-hate-everything/ http://www.theunionblue.com/2014/09/18/everyone-wrong-hate-everything/#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2014 17:19:41 +0000 http://www.theunionblue.com/?p=6822 So I’ve been on vacation the last little while. During a few minutes of downtime the other day, I took some time to catch up on the ongoing Ryan Johansen saga. I posted some of my thoughts on Twitter the other day, but this whole thing is just too complicated and nuanced to really do justice […]

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So I’ve been on vacation the last little while. During a few minutes of downtime the other day, I took some time to catch up on the ongoing Ryan Johansen saga. I posted some of my thoughts on Twitter the other day, but this whole thing is just too complicated and nuanced to really do justice in 140 characters (or even several continued 140 character segments). So here are my full thoughts on this ridiculousness: Everyone is wrong. And most of the thoughts, comments, and what not from those involved in this saga (and even those not) make me hate everything.

So this will most likely come off as a support of Ryan Johansen. Let me clear this up right now in caps and bold. THIS IS NOT A SUPPORT OF RYAN JOHANSEN’S CONTRACT DEMANDS. Hopefully that is now clear. Seriously, if anyone comments on this post or on Twitter directed at me about supporting him I will seriously flip out. His current demands are ridiculous. They are long term, UFA year desires for a non-arbitration RFA. His comments about a bridge deal offer made earlier in the offseason were also ridiculous and indefensible. He’s been quiet since, and his camp (primarily agent Kurt Overhardt) have been saying all the right things to the media. I have a feeling Johansen went off book for those comments and was since read the riot act. Also, I will not harp about Overhardt, or put any extra blame on him, or any of that nonsense. He is not the enemy or the problem or anything. He is part of the system and working within it as he should. From now on, I will refer to Ryan Johansen, Johansen, or some derivative of that when referring to the entire Johansen, Overhardt, or Johansen’s “camp” or “party” or whatever. I will not be singling out Ryan Johansen the person in those references. One more important point before I move on from Johansen. Their side is the only side to initially show any movement.The only major concession given by either side was Johansen agreeing to a bridge deal. Further, his initial long term demands were reasonable. They bought up UFA years. And they bought them up at a steep discount. Look at what good top line players get in unrestricted free agency now. It’s $10m or more to lock down a star forward. By the time Johansen hits unrestricted free agency, that will no doubt be higher. Buying up UFA years now on a $7ish million dollar contract could mean Johansen is underpaid by half during his first UFA eligible years (aka years 5 and 6 of a 6 year deal, which could be coming at a time when he’d be worth $12-14 million per season). That kind of per year figure is crazy right now on a bridge deal, but I assume Johansen thought giving a major concession like a bridge deal would have meant a fairly major concession in salary on said bridge deal. When it didn’t, this became a staring contest.

That is ultimately what it is right now. The Jackets refuse to budge upward, while Johansen waits for a concession in response to his concession. Ever have a staring contest as a kid? Some kids would snap their fingers at you, and wave their hands around, stick their tongue out, just do anything to distract you from that actual task at hand and get you to break. That is exactly what the Blue Jackets are doing right now. And their tactics here is what is driving me crazy. I just do not see the upside here for this team. It would be one thing if there were hard and fast comparables to string up alongside Johansen. But there aren’t. PK Subban keeps getting lobbed around, but he wasn’t quite the same player he is now when he signed that deal, he is a defensemen, the lockout had just ended, and the cap for that season was set for $60m. Nazem Kadri is close-ish, but he was a second liner, doesn’t have the measurables or near the upside of Johansen, was coming off a lockout shortened season, and was riding an unsustainable shooting percentage. Johansen is a little high in that regard, but he could very well have the talent of a 13% shooter. Kadri is certainly not in the range of 17%. That may not sound like a huge difference, but Johansen would have been a 40 goal scorer with those numbers last year. This is all besides the point, as the comps are irrelevant to my point. The real point is that there is no upside in the Jackets approach to this negotiation.

It’s the ultimate cut off the nose to spite the face. The best case scenario for the Jackets is to save a million or two for ownership. Despite what some people think, this will do nothing for other negotiations with players, it won’t mess up their salary structure, it won’t impact Johansen’s future contracts, it won’t impact Bobrovsky or anyone else’s contracts. Those will be influenced by their actual comparables around the league. The Jackets have oodles of cap space, supposedly don’t have a budget, but are refusing to get near market value for Johansen. Just when the reputation as a cheapskate, Mickey Mouse organization were starting to fade (and believe me they existed, especially among players), they management team pulls this crap. What purpose did any of their comments this week serve? They were simply to try and shame Ryan Johansen into signing. They were to turn the fanbase against him. How is that a good strategy? It makes you look terrible to other players, as they organization has shown they clearly value scrimping for pennies over the players. Everyone knows it’s a business, but it doesn’t need to be that much of a business. The difference between the Blue Jackets offer and what it would probably take to get Johansen under contract sound like a lot, but it really isn’t. The dollars involved are a fortune to me, and the difference alone is probably more than Ryan Johansen has earned in his career so far, but they are a rounding error to ownership. Saving money here helps some other teams next offseason, helps ownership save a tiny bit, and gets management some slaps on the back. That is it. That’s the upside of hardlining this. The downside is running Johansen out of town the first chance he gets, scaring off potential free agents, pissing off the other guys in the locker room (they are all probably wary about the team bringing their dirty laundry public when their negotiations come up), and turning this whole thing into a sideshow.

I have to board a plane shortly, so I’m going to wrap this up quick. Everyone points to the PK Subban situation as working out great. And it did for everyone. Canadiens got him cheap, PK eventually got his money. So say Johansen signs cheap (say two years, $7m total). The Jackets are happy. He’s in the lineup. But Nathan Horton nevers gets healthy. Murray starts having injury problems, or his development flatlines. Wiz can’t stay healthy. Johnson is Johnson. Foligno walks after the year. Bobrovsky’s play levels off. The promising prospects are never more than prospects. None of those are out of the realm of possibility. Even with Johansen knocking off two more 30 goal years, that team is probably not a playoff team. Johansen then goes to arbitration for his next deal, which will also be ugly. Then he walks. He’s just gone. That’s the downside of this approach.

So if I were the Jackets, I’d be moving my offer up and getting this thing done as soon as possible. They should have made this as painless as possible now, for the sake of the future. A little extra money coughed up now (when that money does not matter cap or budget-wise) would have probably saved them losing Johansen in the future (worst case) or paying out the nose for his next deal should he continue to trend up in his play (best case). If he becomes a consistent 30-40 goal, 80 point top line center, is he going to be friendly in his next negotiation? Of course not. He’s going to bleed the team for every cent he can get. There will be no hometown discounts for the Jackets from Johansen. That sucks. However, Johansen needs to drop his damned demands. It’s now time for some final offer negotiating. Tell the Jackets two years and $10m total, or I’ll go play in the KHL for a year. At least come down to a reasonable bridge deal. This is stupid and ruining hockey this season for me already. Both sides need to stop with the tantrums, get their crap together and get this done. Seriously.

[Editor's note, the long-term deals later offered by CBJ were not considered movement, as it is the author's belief that the CBJ should have moved on money, not term. More commentary on this to come.] 

UPDATE: So when I wrote this, I was furiously (in both senses) typing to get it down before I had to board a plane. In my haste, I skipped a paragraph I had in my head regarding the actual substance of the offers the Blue Jackets made public. The short term offer is slightly above what Nazem Kadri received, and Johansen should be more than slightly above him. It’s not an unreasonable starting point, but it’s absolutely unreasonable to refuse to budge from that point.

Regarding the long term offers, well those are just not particularly good offers. They are very damn close to matching Evander Kane’s contract. That doesn’t sound unreasonable, but Kane’s contract was signed two years ago based on similar career and nearly identical platform year performance (see the Kane subsection of the Johansen section here). The Jackets offer does not include a premium for being a center, or his importance to the Jackets (compared to Kane), nor does it account for salary inflation. Again, those offers would not be bad starting places, but that’s what they are, and I think the team thinks they are fantastic offers that Johansen should take in a heartbeat. Maybe two years ago that was the case, but Johansen knows about the massive Canadian TV contract that’s been signed since then, the coming jumps in the salary cap, and the movement the cap has made over the last few years. The Jackets are pretending these things haven’t happened, or hoping Johansen doesn’t realize them. The cap is expected to exceed $74m for the 2015-16 season, a $5m jump from this coming year that was already a $5m jump from last year. That kind of movement in the cap needs to be taken into account for any long term deals, and the Jackets haven’t done that. Johansen’s asking price of $7m per season isn’t crazy on a long term deal that buys up some UFA years. If he develops as hoped/expected, he could very well be underpaid by 50% if the cap keeps going up (and therefore star players salaries). I wouldn’t be shocked for top line 30 goal centers to be making around $14m per year for UFA years by then.

One other thought on this: I’ve seen it said that giving Johansen a little too much now will set the bar for his future contract negotiations. This is rubbish. Say the Jackets give him $5m per year for two years. If he scores 30 goals both years, he’s more than a $5m player and his old salary won’t matter. If he stagnates, and is worth $5m, well that’s fine he can have another short deal about where he is (i.e. will not have shown he deserves a raise). If he trails off in play, and refuses to take a pay cut, there is always team elected salary arbitration at that point. The Jackets can file for arbitration and get a reduced salary for Johansen.

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Quick Player Thoughts from Traverse City 2014 http://www.theunionblue.com/2014/09/17/quick-player-thoughts-traverse-city-2014/ http://www.theunionblue.com/2014/09/17/quick-player-thoughts-traverse-city-2014/#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2014 01:55:31 +0000 http://www.theunionblue.com/?p=6810 After spending the past week or so in Traverse watching the Blue Jackets battle to win the championship, I wanted to take a few moments and offer my summary thoughts on each of the players. So here we go:   41 Alexander Wennberg 4GP 1-2-3 +4 2PIM Despite battling a head cold, Alexander sill impressed […]

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After spending the past week or so in Traverse watching the Blue Jackets battle to win the championship, I wanted to take a few moments and offer my summary thoughts on each of the players. So here we go:

 

41 Alexander Wennberg 4GP 1-2-3 +4 2PIM
Despite battling a head cold, Alexander sill impressed despite not putting up big numbers. The smooth skating Swede played in all situations and was very impressive handling the puck. He was given a leadership role as an alternate captain throughout the tournament.

 

45 Lukas Sedlak 3GP 0-0-0 +1 2PIM 45
Lukas was the only Jacket draft pick to get scratched but was his usual strong two way presence when he did play. Lukas’ game is one of those when you don’t notice him its a good thing.

49 TJ Tynan 4GP 1-5-6 +2 2PIM
This was really the first time I got to see TJ play competitive hockey and the little guy really impressed me. Despite being only 5’8 he’s fearless and even got a little chippy at points. But it’s his skill that amazes you. TJ seemed to get even better once he had the duo of Josh Anderson and Kerby Rychel next to him.

 

52 Kerby Rychel 4GP 3-4-7 +4 0PIM
Kerby was a force up in Traverse City. He led the team in scoring and he threw quite a few big hits. Kerby showed he’s not afraid to get dirty – all off his goals were cleaning up the trash in front of the crease.

 

53 Josh Anderson 4GP 4-0-4 +3 2PIM
Off all the players that would be battling for a spot on the main club, Josh helped his case the most. He absolutely dominated –  tying for the team lead in goals and leading the tournament in game winners with three. Josh was a physical presence without having to drop the gloves, unlike last year.

 

54 Austin Madaisky 4GP 0-5-5 +3 0PIM
Austin was the Jackets top defenseman in Traverse City. He tied for the tournament lead for points by defenseman and assists overall. Hopefully Austin can use this tournament and a good camp to find a home in Springfield this season. Austin played in all situations and served as an alternate captain.

 

56 Marko Dano 4GP 3-3-6 +3 6PIM
Marko showed what he could do with actual first line ice time. He showed the skill and grit that made him a first round pick. Marko appeared to really take off once he started lining up with Oliver Bjorkstrand and Alexander Wennberg.

 

62 Thomas Larkin 4GP 0-1-1 +2 5PIM
Thomas was another of the Jackets top Dmen. He was physical and very solid  defensively again showing he’s not afraid to drop the mitts. Thomas, like Austin, will be trying to stick in Springfield after spending most of last year in Evansville. Thomas served as the captain for the Jackets in Traverse City.

 

64 Dillon Heatherington 3GP 1-0-1 +2 2PIM
Dillon continued to show he may be more than a defensive defenseman including his ability to skate with the puck multiple times. Dillon scored the Jackets only goal by a defenseman. Dillon missed one game due to an injury.

 

65 Oliver Bjorkstrand 4GP 4-1-5 E 2PIM
After starting last year on the fourth line and moving up to the first, Oliver was put on the first and stuck there all tournament. The Great Dane was probably the Jackets most dangerous forward in Traverse – in addition to his earned points he had multiple breakaways that he just missed on.

 

67 Nick Moutrey 4GP 1-0-1 +1 0
I think Nick was one of the Jackets most underrated forwards. Nick looked bigger and was a physical force along with scoring one of the prettier goals in the tournament when he worked a two on one with Julien Pelletier.

 

68 Markus Soberg 4GP 1-2-3 +1 2PIM
Markus was one non-first round pick I wanted to keep an eye on and he didn’t disappoint. Markus was the skilled player I expected, along with being a little more physical than I thought he would be. Markus  showed a lot of skill especially in practice where he rarely missed.

 

75 Peter Quennenville 4GP 2-0-2 -1 4PIM
Like TJ, this was the first time I’ve seen Peter play and he was very impressive. Like Markus, I don’t think I saw Peter miss the target once, he always hit either the net or the goalie. It was announced though that Peter has been returned to Brandon which really surprises me especially with him actually able to go to Springfield even without a contract.

 

78 Blake Siebenaler 4GP 0-0-0 +1 6PIM
I’ll admit the no points next to Blake’s name kinda surprises me but he was still darn impressive when he’d decide to skate up with the puck. You can tell Blake is a bit of a work in progress (only been playing D three years) but you can tell the skill is there. He was a bit more physical than I thought including his ability to haul down a Stars player driving the net.

 

79 Julien Pelletier 0-2-2 E 0PIM
Julien really didn’t make much of an impact other than a pretty assist to Nick Moutrey while playing on the fourth line as a skill player. Julien, like LeBlanc and Quenneville, have been sent back to juniors.

 

82 Olivier LeBlanc 4GP 0-1-1 -1 0PIM
I’m not going to lie, after the first game I thought Olivier would be scratched, but shows why I’m not a scout. LeBlanc moved up next to Thomas Larkin and stuck with the big fella the rest of the tournament. Olivier played in all situations and led the rush multiple times. Olivier, like Peter, has been already sent back to juniors but this is a good thing. Olivier will play way more in Saint John than he would in any preseason game.

GOALIES

I’m grouping the goalies together because they were similar and great after allowing an early goal except for the championship game. The battle between these two in Springfield will be fun to watch.  As I’ve said before, the starter at the end of this season will probably backup Bob next year.

Now you’ll notice I didn’t talk about Sonny Milano or any of the invites. Sonny was injured and only played half a game and as for the invites they were pretty meh outside of bruiser Mike DiPaolo, who earned a shot at main camp (even though I think it’s because he got hurt and the Blue Jackets may have him covered for longer).

The Jackets on-ice training camp begins Friday – watch for how these players (those who haven’t returned to Juniors) perform against the big boys of the NHL.

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Jackets claim third Traverse City Prospects Tournament Title http://www.theunionblue.com/2014/09/17/jackets-claim-third-traverse-city-prospects-tournament-title/ http://www.theunionblue.com/2014/09/17/jackets-claim-third-traverse-city-prospects-tournament-title/#comments Wed, 17 Sep 2014 13:40:37 +0000 http://www.theunionblue.com/?p=6803 The Columbus Blue Jackets are the 2014 Traverse City NHL Prospect Tournament champs after defeating the Dallas Stars 3-2 in overtime. The Jackets did something they hadn’t done all tournament and that is score first. Kerby Rychel took a pass from TJ Tynan in front to make it 1-0 4:48 in. Later in the first, Dallas […]

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The Columbus Blue Jackets are the 2014 Traverse City NHL Prospect Tournament champs after defeating the Dallas Stars 3-2 in overtime. The Jackets did something they hadn’t done all tournament and that is score first. Kerby Rychel took a pass from TJ Tynan in front to make it 1-0 4:48 in. Later in the first, Dallas would score when Radek Faksa took a pass in the slot to tie it at 1.

In the second, TJ Tynan hauled down Stars captain Brendan Ranford and earned a penalty shot. Ranford would score going backhand on Oscar Dansk. Late in the second, The Great Dane, Oliver Bjorkstrand struck when he took a pass from Marko Dano to tie it at 2.

The third period was very quiet as the referees really tucked their whistles away the whole game. They called only three penalties the whole game with one being a too many men call on Dallas. So into overtime we went. The tournament is using the new dry scrape 4 on 4 for four minutes and then going to 3 on 3 for the balance of the 7 minute overtime. The Jackets started with Alexander Wennberg, Marko Dano and its top D pair of Austin Madaisky and Dillon Heatherington. Nothing would happen until a stoppage with 4:50 remaining when the teams went to 3 on 3, with Kerby Rychel, Marko Dano and Thomas Larkin starting out. Alexander Wennberg drove around the net and got the puck to Austin Madaisky whose point shot was tipped by Josh Anderson for the winning goal. The score clinching the Jackets their third title in the event and first since 2006. Oscar Dansk would make 31 saves in the victory.

PLAYER NOTES
Kerby Rychel was a monster tonight playing his game, throwing big hits and just firing – he took a game high eight shots. Of the Jackets three D pairs, the one I said multiple times that “I wasn’t worried” when they were on the ice was its top pair of WHL draft picks Austin Madaisky and Dillon Heatherington. They were solid and played strong on both sides. Same Captains as the rest of the tournament and that means Thomas Larkin gets the trophy first.

THREE STARS
1. Josh Anderson
2. Kerby Rychel
3. Oscar Dansk

CBJ TOURNAMENT ALL STAR TEAM
Ok, here’s mine and CBJ guru Rob Mixer‘s picks for a CBJ All Tournament team:

CBJ Prospects’ Picks:

F Kerby Rychel- Kerby was a beast up here – finishing second in the tournament in scoring with seven points in four games

F Josh Anderson- The hero. Josh brought back what a London blogger and I called “Beast mode” dominating and not even having to drop the gloves once

F Oliver Bjorkstrand- The Great Dane tied for the Jackets lead in goals and could have had a lot more. He had at least three almost goals that he’s perhaps kicking himself for not finishing

D Austin Madaisky- Austin tied for the defenseman point lead and tied for most assists in the tournament.

D Dillon Heatherington- despite missing a game, Dillon was solid as always and scored the Jackets only goal by a defenseman

G Oscar Dansk- Ok this spot really could’ve gone to either of our goalies but Oscar won the Championship game

ROB’S PICKS:

F Josh Anderson: not only the tournament winning goal, but he showed a mature, two-way game with some added offense that had people talking. He’s going to main camp with a ton of confidence.

F Kerby Rychel: it’s pro hockey season #1 for Rychel and he’s off to a good start. He was involved and played with an edge, finding his way to scoring areas and mixing well with a variety of line mates.

F Marko Dano: he was very consistent and looked like a confident player. In really liked what he brought to the team this week.

D Austin Madaisky: he saw a lot of power play time but also played well at even strength. He had the presence of mind to just get the puck on net, leading to the tournament winning goal.

D Dillon Heatherington: despite some dental work early in the tournament, Heatherington came back and filled the role the Blue Jackets want to see him play: a steady, defending defenseman who makes a good exit pass. I thought he was very poised and made a lot of really nice plays.

G Oscar Dansk: he needed a big tournament after a disappointing showing here a year ago, and he delivered. Dansk was excellent against Detroit on Saturday and was again in the final. He made 31 saves last night and helped the Jackets keep it together. That battle for the #1 job in Springfield has officially begun.

TUESDAY’S LINES
Dano (0-1-1) Wennberg (0-1-1) Bjorkstrand (1-0-1)
Rychel (1-0-1) Tynan (0-1-1) Anderson (1-0-1 GWG)
Moutrey Sedlak Soberg
Hope Quenneville Pelletier

Heatherington Madaisky (0-1-1)
Larkin LeBlanc
MacLeod Siebenaler

Dansk
Forsberg

There you have it folks! Another fun trip up to Michigan – just a little more successful than my others. I’ll be back soon with some quick thoughts on every one who played up here – thanks for reading and following along – it’s officially hockey season folks!

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Jackets earn perfect record at Traverse – set sights on Championship http://www.theunionblue.com/2014/09/15/jackets/ http://www.theunionblue.com/2014/09/15/jackets/#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 02:40:02 +0000 http://www.theunionblue.com/?p=6798 The Jackets team of prospects took on the St. Louis Blues prospects today in the their final game of the round robin tournament with their spot in the championship game Tuesday already clinched. The CBJ continued the trend of giving up an early goal when the Blues top line got on the board with Ty […]

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The Jackets team of prospects took on the St. Louis Blues prospects today in the their final game of the round robin tournament with their spot in the championship game Tuesday already clinched. The CBJ continued the trend of giving up an early goal when the Blues top line got on the board with Ty Rattie and Robby Fabbri working together down low and then finding Yannick Villeux in the slot to make it 1-0.

Six minutes later Oliver Bjorkstrand scored his second of the tournament when he picked up the rebound of an Austin Madaisky point shot on the power play. Two minutes later Jake Chelios scored on the power play to give the Blues their final lead of the game. Mike DiPaolo did what he does best – getting into a marathon (lasted at least a minute) of a bout with the Blues Justin Gutierrez. After that, for some reason, Mike left the game and was in street clothes. I didn’t notice until the second intermission and I don’t remember if I saw him play in the second period.

The second period was quiet until midway through – that’s when the onslaught began. Peter Quenneville started the Jackets’ flurry of goals when he fired a shot while getting checked by two Blues players to tie it after back to back penalties by invite Kevin Ryan (not the best debut Kevin). But during the second penalty kill, TJ Tynan sprung Josh Anderson who finished to make it 3-2. Later, Dillon Heatherington scored the first goal by a Jackets dman in the tournament with the Blues’ Justice Dundas all over him to make it 4-2. With 41 seconds left, Oliver Bjorkstrand would strike from what I began calling “his spot” (left circle to the slot – he took 4 shots from there). Bjorkstrand took a pass from Marko Dano and Alexander Wennberg before notching the goal.

In the third, Kerby Rychel tipped a Markus Soberg centering pass to make it 6-2 after a slight kerfuffle that including Blake Siebenaler getting jumped by Justice Dundas (Blake ducked the hit along the wall, I’ll admit, but I wouldn’t call it a clip), Dunas got tossed for the play to go with a double minor. During the double minor Nick Moutrey who, despite having no points (yet) has had a solid tournament. Moutrey set off on a two on one with Julien Pelletier with Moutrey taking a centering pass from Pelletier to score the extra point. Anton Forsberg stopped 21 of 23 for his second win of the tournament.

PLAYER NOTES

If they did a all star team for this event, I’d hope Josh Anderson would earn a spot on it. He’s been a beast up here and is part of a six way tie for the tournament lead.  Alexander Wennberg, despite putting up only a goal and an assist, has been great with his play in all situations. The Jackets changed up its top six tonight and I really liked the change with Marko Dano joining Oliver Bjorkstrand and Alexander Wennberg and TJ Tynan centering the power forward duo of Josh Anderson and Kerby Rychel.

Same leadership group with Thomas Larkin serving as captain and almost getting a piece of Ty Rattie.  Wennberg and Madaisky served as alternates.

THREE STARS

1. Oliver Bjorkstrand
2. TJ Tynan
3. Josh Anderson

LINES
Dano (0-1-1) Wennberg (0-1-1) Bjorkstrand (2-0-2)
Rychel (1-0-1 7SOG) Tynan (0-3-3) Anderson (1-0-1)
Moutrey (1-0-1) Sedlak Soberg (0-1-1)
Pelletier (0-2-2) Quenneville (1-0-1) DiPaolo

Heatherington (1-0-1) Madaisky (0-3-3)
Larkin LeBlanc
Siebenaler Ryan

Forsberg
Dansk

So tomorrow is the big one as the CBJ take on the Dallas Stars in a rematch of last year’s 3rd place game. The Stars also went 3-0 but earned one win coming in overtime. We’ll have the recap and my thoughts afterwards so stay tuned!

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CBJ Social Media Day – Coming Thursday! http://www.theunionblue.com/2014/09/15/cbj-social-media-day-coming-thursday/ http://www.theunionblue.com/2014/09/15/cbj-social-media-day-coming-thursday/#comments Mon, 15 Sep 2014 21:20:28 +0000 http://www.theunionblue.com/?p=6793 What is going on in CBJ land? Not much you say? Well, not for long! Players return to Nationwide Arena Thursday to begin the 2014-15 campaign and, they want to talk to YOU. Before Training Camp even starts, Blue Jackets players are going to be available via social media to take your questions! As the players come […]

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What is going on in CBJ land? Not much you say? Well, not for long! Players return to Nationwide Arena Thursday to begin the 2014-15 campaign and, they want to talk to YOU.

Before Training Camp even starts, Blue Jackets players are going to be available via social media to take your questions!

As the players come back officially on Thursday, Bobby McElligott and Jody Shelley will be hosting a live interactive show and from noon till 1 pm they’ll be communicating your questions to the boys who will answer your questions right then and there!

How do you participate? Easy. On Thursday, check out the live stream and then, submit your questions via twitter using the hashtag #CBJSMDay

You can find a complete schedule and all the details HERE

Hockey’s back, friends. And the Blue Jackets are kicking it off in style come Thursday!

Carry the flag!

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Blue Jackets comeback to beat Wings http://www.theunionblue.com/2014/09/13/blue-jackets-comeback-beat-wings/ http://www.theunionblue.com/2014/09/13/blue-jackets-comeback-beat-wings/#comments Sun, 14 Sep 2014 03:51:38 +0000 http://www.theunionblue.com/?p=6788 The Jackets took on the host Detroit Red Wings in front of a packed house last night and pulled out a 5-3 win. The game started out ugly with the Red Wings taking a 2-0 lead into the first intermission including the first goal 35 seconds into the game. The lone CBJ highlight came when […]

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The Jackets took on the host Detroit Red Wings in front of a packed house last night and pulled out a 5-3 win. The game started out ugly with the Red Wings taking a 2-0 lead into the first intermission including the first goal 35 seconds into the game. The lone CBJ highlight came when tough guy Mike DiPaolo sent a Red Wing into the Jackets bench and then answered the call from Richard Nedomlel with Mike earning the decision.

In the second, Josh Anderson fired a shot top corner to make it 2-1. 1:30 later Markus Søberg banged home a TJ Tynan shot to tie it at 2.

Five minutes into the third, Josh Anderson was out of the play due to a broken stick from a slash (no call) and Detroit would score their third goal to great celebration from the mainly Red Wings-based fans. But the lead wouldn’t hold. Peter Quenneville tipped a Kerby Rychel shot to tie it at 3. Five minutes later Josh Anderson backhanded an Olivier LeBlanc point shot into the net – even though Detroit argued the net was knocked off (it was – by them). 20 seconds later Marko Dano would score his third goal when he skated around a Dman to make it 5-3. Detroit would play the last two minutes with a man and then two man advantage when they first pulled the goalie and then a Detroit player skated into Oscar Dansk‘s stick as he was trying to deflect the puck but Oscar did hit him and was called.

Oscar played the best game of his two tournaments stopping 31 of 34 in the win. Quickly – in stay classy Detroit news: every game I’ve ever seen in Traverse has ended in a playoff style handshake line. Until tonight. Detroit just skated off the ice to the locker room. A few Blue Jackets players were left to just wave goodbye to them as they left the rink.

PLAYER NOTES
TJ Tynan is the energizer bunny playing a high motor game and actually making you forget about his size. Markus Søberg was impressive – handling the puck and being a bit more physical than I had read he is. After allowing the two first period goals Oscar Dansk settled down and played well.

Marko Dano and Josh Anderson are tied for the team lead in goals at three apiece.

The Jackets appear to not be rotating leaders this tournament with Thomas Larkin serving as captain and Alexander Wennberg and Austin Madaisky serving as alternates. Quick injury update – it was announced that Sonny Milano would miss the rest of the tournament with two facial fractures. Dillon Heatherington would also miss the game with an injury from a hit he received against Minnesota.

THREE STARS
1. Oscar Dansk
2. Josh Anderson
3a. Markus Søberg
3b. Marko Dano

LINES
Rychel (0-1-1) Wennberg Bjorkstrand
Søberg (1-0-1) Tynan (0-1-1) Anderson (2-0-2)
Moutrey Dano (1-0-1) Pelletier
Hope Quenneville (1-0-1)

Madaisky-Siebenaler
LeBlanc (0-1-1) Larkin
McIvor Walters (0-1-1)

Dansk
Forsberg

Tomorrow is an off day for the tournament with it getting back into action on Monday. The Jackets have first place locked up no matter how they do against St Louis who have lost both games in overtime.

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Jackets win Traverse City opener http://www.theunionblue.com/2014/09/12/jackets-win-traverse-city-opener/ http://www.theunionblue.com/2014/09/12/jackets-win-traverse-city-opener/#comments Sat, 13 Sep 2014 01:09:14 +0000 http://www.theunionblue.com/?p=6782 The Jackets opened the 2014 Traverse City Prospect Tournament with a 7-4 win over the Minnesota Wild. The game wasn’t the prettiest but the Jackets will take the victory. The Wild took the first lead 7:49 into the first when Nick Walters and Brady Brassart had a 2-1 with Walters finishing. In the second, Oliver […]

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The Jackets opened the 2014 Traverse City Prospect Tournament with a 7-4 win over the Minnesota Wild. The game wasn’t the prettiest but the Jackets will take the victory. The Wild took the first lead 7:49 into the first when Nick Walters and Brady Brassart had a 2-1 with Walters finishing.

In the second, Oliver Bjorkstrand found Kerby Rychel in front to tie it at one. 56 seconds lasted Walters would strike again to make it 2-1. Later in the second the CBJ had a scare when 2014 first round pick Sonny Milano fell face first into the boards and needed help off the ice – he would not return to the game. Later in the period, TJ Tynan would get credit for a goal that would bounce over the Wild goaltender’s shoulder.

The third is when the Jackets started hitting and started scoring. Kerby Rychel scored to make it 3-2 until Minnesota struck again when Kurtis Gabriel scored just moments later. Then, Marko Dano scored two power play goals a little over a minute apart on a four minute power play. With just under two minutes to go, the Wild would score with their goalie pulled off a faceoff, but the Jackets would seal the victory with their top line working a tic tac toe play that Alexander Wennberg finished into an empty net to make it 6-4.

Anton Forsberg stopped 20 of 24 in the win. Two more semi-scary moments came when Olivier LeBlanc took a puck to the face but would return and Dillon Heatherington took a high hit with a stick. Dillon would not return but it did happen in the third period and he looked fine walking around post game. Thomas Larkin wore the Captain’s C today with Alexander Wennberg and Austin Madaisky wearing the As.

PLAYER NOTES
In watching two days of practice and a game, Nick Moutrey has impressed me – he looks bigger and played well. Thomas Larkin dropped the mitts with Kurtis Gabriel and, well, Kurtis chose poorly with Thomas earning the decision. Blake Siebenaler was the Dman I wanted to watch closely and he’s already impressed me – so smooth and at one point, he went end to end. Josh Anderson also impressed and really stood out leading the team in shots taken. He was physical throughout the game and even ran right through one defender.

CBJProspects’ 3 STARS
1. Kerby Rychel
2. Marko Dano
3. Ryan Walters (Minnesota) 2 goals

LINES
Rychel (1-3-4) Wennberg (1-0-1)-Bjorkstrand (1-1-2)
Dano (2-1-3) Tynan (1-0-1)-Milano
Søberg (0-1-1) Sedlák Anderson
Moutrey Quenneville Pelletier

Heatherington-Madaisky (0-1-1)
Siebenaler-Larkin
LeBlanc-MacLeod

Forsberg
Dansk

Tomorrow the CBJ take on the host/defending champs the Detroit Red Wings at 7:30. Detroit won 6-5 in overtime last night versus St. Louis. We’ll probably see Oscar Dansk tomorrow along with possibly some other changes in the lineup.

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2014 CBJ European Prospect Preview http://www.theunionblue.com/2014/09/12/2014-cbj-european-prospect-preview/ http://www.theunionblue.com/2014/09/12/2014-cbj-european-prospect-preview/#comments Fri, 12 Sep 2014 13:59:51 +0000 http://www.theunionblue.com/?p=6777 It’s hockey time so let’s get right to checking out what’s going on with some of the Blue Jackets prospects. Europe gets an earlier start than North America with all three of the Jacket’s European getting started this week. The Jackets have three prospects playing overseas: Daniel Zaar in Sweden, Joonas Korpisalo in Finland and […]

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It’s hockey time so let’s get right to checking out what’s going on with some of the Blue Jackets prospects. Europe gets an earlier start than North America with all three of the Jacket’s European getting started this week. The Jackets have three prospects playing overseas: Daniel Zaar in Sweden, Joonas Korpisalo in Finland and Elvis Merzlikins in Switzerland. Since it’s hard to see these players live, like I normally do with the CHL and NCAA, I’ve asked for some help from reporters who have seen these players live.

Daniel Zaar-Lulea (SHL)
2013-14 Stats 52GP 16-20-36 -5 28PIM
Daniel Zaar has been practicing the most of all the prospects – his new team Lulea took part in the Champions Hockey League (think the World Cup but with champions from all over Europe). Daniel has been a star so far. He’s currently tied for second on the team in scoring with three goals and four assists. I’d be happy about these stats but the four games played so far have been against teams from England and Germany (not hockey powerhouses obviously). Daniel did play his first SHL game since the 2012-13 season and scored the game winner in the shootout of a 3-2 win. Daniel spent last year with Rogle in Allsvenskan (Sweden’s lower league) so for a recap of last season, I’ll turn things over to Andreas Holm who writes for SvenskaFans.com.

“The 2013-2014 season was when Daniel Zaar took his next step in his career. He became one of Rögle’s most important offensive players. His control, precision, speed and nevertheless, his fighting spirit made him a threat for the opponents.

“He showed that he can combine his game with different players and also he had a season when he without injuries fully (and) could concentrate on performing at his best. He was close to bring(ing) Rögle to SHL with 14 points in ten games in the playoffs. Rögle was two goals from qualifying to the SHL, which would be more or less sensational. Daniel Zaar’s season of course made him an interesting player for the SHL clubs and it was early known that Luleå was his next destination. It is a big move, not only geographical (about 1600 km). It is also a step to one of the top contenders in SHL and a team which is known for playing a directly and tough hockey.

“There is no question Daniel Zaar is good enough to be on one of the SHL top teams, but now is the time to show what he got. Luleå is a good team with good players and Zaar will have to be at his best to get time on the ice. Though I, as have followed his career for five years, don’t expect anything else than that he will succeed. He is only 20 years but already a pro and I’m sure he will find his way to be a top player also in the SHL. He still got things to work on, so I would think he need a couple of years before he’s ready for the big room.”

As for how Zaar is doing in Lulea specifically, with preseason games and one regular season game we turn to Jimmy Stålnacke who covers Lulea for the local paper NSD.

“Now it’s early in the pre season but I think Daniel Zaar will have this role even when the regular season starts. In the first exhibition games he has played with Stephen Dixon and Lennart Petrell in the top line and his role is to contribute with creativity and goals. He has a good shot and in the power play he has played in the left circle, also in the top line. So I think he will get a lot of confidence from the coaches and he will be an important part of this team.”

Joonas Korpisalo-Ilves (Finland)
Stats 8GP 1.32GAA .957Sv%
Joonas bounced around last season between two organizations, multiple levels and at least four teams while also suffering an injury that probably led to him not being able to play on Finland’s gold medal winning World Junior team. This year Joonas is signed by the CBJ but has been loaned to Ilves where he finished last year. For Joonas, I’ll let Miika Arponen handle things.

“Joonas Korpisalo will get his first shot to be a legitimate starting goalie in the men’s league. He is the front-runner for the job in Ilves Tampere, because their other goalie is injured and won’t be back until mid-October. Korpisalo played eight games with Ilves last spring and had the best saving percentage and goals against average in the whole league, although obviously due to limited sample size. Korpisalo’s pre-season went well. He played four games winning three of them and posted solid statistics with .931 save percentage. His movements seemed to be calmer than last season and his stick-handling has also improved. He is considered as one of the biggest breakout candidates in Liiga this season.”

Elvis Merzlikins-HC Lugano (Switzerland)
2013-14 Stats 22GP 2.13GAA .925Sv%

A bit of a surprise pick in this year’s draft was Latvian goaltender Elvis Merzlikins who plays for Swiss club Lugano in the National League A (and as a teammate of 2001 draft pick Raffele Sannitz). Helping me keep track of Elvis over there is Maurizio Urech who covers HC Lugano for Hockeyfans.ch.

“Elvis started the last season with the junior-team of HC Lugano and he was supposed to be the third keeper of the team. Then one of the two keepers had health problems and had to fight against a virus and could even not practice.
“On the September 27th Elvis was on the bench during a loss to HC Davos and Lugano was 11th in the standings of 12. The day after, Lugano had to travel to play Lausanne HC (a) new promoted team in the LNA who was in the third place. When the team arrived in Lausanne Coach Patrick Fischer (first season as head coach, he played for Phoenix in the NHL) told Elvis that he’ll start the game and his debut in the LNA was impressive – after 95 minutes he had .947 % SVS and helped the team to win stopping 4 of 5 in the shootout. He played the next away game against Kloten and with another great performance .958% and Lugano won 4-1. Then he lost the following 4 games with Lugano. He earned his first shut-out on December 13th with a 2-0 win against Kloten before leaving the team to play the World Championships with Latvia in Poland.
“When he came back he led the team to three wins and became a fan favorite because of the special way he celebrates his wins. Then he went back to play for the Junior Team which he lead to the final against the SC Berne. Coach Patrick Fischer called him back with his team facing elimination against Genf-Servette, he played an outstanding game stopping 41 of 42 shots, unfortunately in the shootout all five players on Lugano missed, and Noah Rod with a great finish scored the only goal sending Lugano on vacation.
Elvis was elected the shooting-star of the season in Switzerland, significant because he was voted by coaches and player. During his first interview with the medias, Elvis told us that he was shocked after his debut to discover that he was capable to play at this level and that the most emotional game was the derby (rivalry) he played away against Ambri-Piotta, stating that during the first ten minutes it wasn’t him who stopped the puck. As for this season Lugano made some good transfers with import players Linus Klasen (SWE) and Ilari Filpulla (FIN) these two players should help the team to increase the scoring and the team has the potential to finish the league in the top four, and then hopefully to be able to win again a playoff-series and Elvis is expected to be one of the masterpiece of this team and he has the skills to become one of the best goaltenders in the league.”

There you have it – a look at how the Jackets three prospects in Europe stack up this season. I’ll be here all week with Traverse City updates along with a preview of how the Jackets nine prospects in the CHL should look this season after their sent back to Juniors from main camp.

 

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CBJ Art Contest! http://www.theunionblue.com/2014/09/11/art-contest/ http://www.theunionblue.com/2014/09/11/art-contest/#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2014 14:56:49 +0000 http://www.theunionblue.com/?p=6753 Hi! It’s Ashley Ware here!  Did you make it to Cannonfest?  Did you get a hold of the limited edition CannonfestV prints? No? Well never fear! The whole set can be yours! In collaboration with the wonderful folks at The Union Blue we’re holding an art competition.  Send in your best drawing of your favorite […]

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Hi! It’s Ashley Ware here!  Did you make it to Cannonfest?  Did you get a hold of the limited edition CannonfestV prints? No? Well never fear! The whole set can be yours!

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In collaboration with the wonderful folks at The Union Blue we’re holding an art competition.  Send in your best drawing of your favorite player and the winner will receive a FULL SET of Cannonfest prints.

Entries can be traditional (paint, watercolor, crayon, pencil, ink), or digital.  Be as creative as you can! The competition’s deadline is September 19th, and the winners will be announced on September 21st. All entries should be sent to AshleyStWare@gmail.com.

Good luck everyone!!

 

 

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A Taste of Tastes to Come http://www.theunionblue.com/2014/09/10/taste-tastes-come/ http://www.theunionblue.com/2014/09/10/taste-tastes-come/#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2014 00:04:14 +0000 http://www.theunionblue.com/?p=6758 Once again, the Columbus Blue Jackets were kind enough to allow members of The Union Blue to attend their annual preview of some of the upcoming season’s new food offerings. Being a foodie and knowing what Chefs Ed Kowalski and Chef John DiGiovanni have served up in the past, I’d been looking forward to this […]

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Once again, the Columbus Blue Jackets were kind enough to allow members of The Union Blue to attend their annual preview of some of the upcoming season’s new food offerings. Being a foodie and knowing what Chefs Ed Kowalski and Chef John DiGiovanni have served up in the past, I’d been looking forward to this event for a while. Some of the new and exciting things to keep an eye out for when strolling Nationwide Arena this year include:

 

 

Suite & Loge Tasting Event (1 of 6)

Crab Cake Sliders

Yes, you read that correctly. A lightly crisped crab cake with a delightful slaw in a finger-size munchable. The Union Blue contributor Ashley Ware described it as such:  The crab cake slider was amazing.  Super light, but really flavorful. Possibly the best crab I have ever eaten.  Ever.

 

Suite & Loge Tasting Event (2 of 6)

Bacon Dog with Barbecue Brisket and Onion Straws

OK, let’s just break down the ingredients on this mama-jama: Hot dog? Check. Bacon? Check. Brisket? Check. Barbecue Sauce? Check. Onion Straws? Check. Is the whole greater than the sum of its parts? Absolutely. This might be my new favorite food available in the entire arena. Nearly brought a tear to my eye.

Suite & Loge Tasting Event (4 of 6)

The Dessert Cart

OK, if you’ve ever seen this beauty being wheeled around I’m sure your jaw has dropped. Chocolate pucks, player jersey cookies, cakes galore! This year’s special addition (not shown) is a chocolate stout cake. If you’re a chocolate love that appreciates a high quality, bold bitter chocolate, this is the cake for you. While it was absolute perfection on its own, I can’t help but imagine upping the bitter factor by pairing it with a  hot cup of black Tim Horton’s coffee for the perfect intermission treat.

Suite & Loge Tasting Event (3 of 6)

Chile -Garlic Edamame

OK, on to a little healthier fare. Great balance between the chile and garlic in a nice fresh snack. This will be sure to make a lot of people happy who don’t want to have to walk off their trips to the arena after over-indulging.

Suite & Loge Tasting Event (6 of 6)

John Davidson, Bob McElligott and Jarmo Kekalainen

Guests were treated to hear the voice of the Blue Jackets, Bob McElligott speak candidly with John Davidson and Jarmo Kekalainen about the team’s performance, their participation in the upcoming Traverse City Prospects Tournament and the future of the club.

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