by professor ggrib
Preseason game coverage for us “out of towners” [now 1100 miles] has consisted of app radio coverage, so there is no ability to form opinions other than provided by the play by play. But one of the other “benefits” of this coverage is that we get to hear commercials. One of the most irritating/hokey ones is for Conns potato chips. This features “a young boy talking to his dad”. The boy is obviously directly reading a script and we slowly/laboriously go through his lines. BUT the boy’s last script statement is “Great hockey teams play like the Blue Jackets”. This simple statement made me think a bit. Just how do the Blue Jackets play? And is this how great hockey teams really play.
As fans, we are pretty much ingrained by the media and management that the Jackets are a hard working, blue collar team. Even quotes from opposing players seem to bear this out. Statements like “Columbus is a blue collar town and the Jackets are a blue collar team abound. Let me go back a few years and think out loud. [ I’ve only been a CBJ fan since 2007, so my reflections are more “recent history” flavor.
A few years ago, R J Umburger was one of the most popular players. While Nash was the star, R J, was hard working support staff. R J has medium hockey talent, so he worked hard, fed off the attention given to Nash by opposing teams and had pretty good success. This was also in the era when Columbus had a hard ass coach in Ken Hitchcock who has a “black and blue” coaching style. Using R J as it’s poster child, the term blue collar was applied. All this while the undercurrent assessment was that the Blue Jackets secretly had a country club attitude.
Then GM Scott Howson had made a few trades and drafts that had not worked out so well. [perhaps a bit of an understatement] So an outside consultant was engaged. As the effects of his wisdom reached the public, it was reported that in his prior success, he considered talent only one of the desirable qualities. Reports were that his advice was, you gotta get skill/ability AND character. Now we have to remember, trades both coming and going as well as drafts all depend of availability, so turning a magic key is not an option.
But low and behold, a few “different” types of players started showing up. One of the first was a guy named Foleigno…. you get the picture. And a few players departed….. you might also get this picture. The Blue Jackets hired one of the best hockey PR and talent minds in John Davidson. And fast forwarding a bit he hired the present GM, Jarmo Kekäläinen. It seems they both believe in hard work, effort, and character. Thus, players coming to the Blue Jackets are partly identified as “our style of player”.
Now Kekäläinen has made a number of trades/drafts a number, in fact most, of which are under the TBD listing. But a strong effort is being made to make the Blue Jackets a team with character, grit and determination. [aside– One of the strangest trades is obtaining David Clarkston. David has only played 2+ games for the Jackets before being injured. But he spent the summer, moving to Columbus and jumping in with both feet to the community and its charity activities. Character? It would seem so]
Now, back to the original question. After watching the Stanley Cup I can say those teams show grit determination and great effort. Players sacrifice themselves in an all out effort to do their best for both themselves and their team. The Blue Jackets have not “been there, done that”. YET. But it appears they are on the right path.