Thursday, December 8, 2016

Columbus Blue Jackets: A Long December

The Columbus Blue Jackets are enjoying the best start in franchise history, and it has made Jackets fans everywhere optimistic. We put together a little parody of Counting Crow's Long December for your enjoyment! Hope you like it. If you forget how the original song goes, we have linked up the video at the bottom of the page!

Great Band! Great Team! Let's Go Jackets!

The Columbus Blue Jackets: A Long December

A long December and there's reason to believe
Maybe this year will be better than the last
I can't remember the last time that the Jackets were leadin'
Now the wins come by so fast

And it's one more day up in the weight room
And it's one more night in Nationwide
If you think the losses could be forgiven I wish you would

The sound of a cannon in winter
And the feeling that it's all a lot of seasons, but no cups
All at once you look across a crowded arena
To see the way red light attaches to a goal

And it's one more day up in the weight room
And it's one more night in Nationwide
If you think you might come to see the Jackets I think you should

Turned on 97.1 sometime after two a.m.
And they talked a little while about the year
I guess the past makes you trust a little slower,
Makes you talk a little lower about the progress the Jackets have shown ya

And it's a long December and there's reason to believe
Maybe this year will be better than the last
I can't remember all the times I tried to tell my myself
To hold on to these moments as they pass

And it's one more day up in the weight room
And it's one more night in Nationwide
It's been so long since I've seen the playoffs, I wish they would

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

Credit: A Long December by Counting Crows

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Vegas Golden Knights: Logo Breakdown

The NHL has added their 31st team and last night they unveiled their mascot, the Golden Knights. I hope that they do well in Vegas. I am kind of nervous to see what teams I cheer for will have to give up for the expansion draft. At the end of the day, I think you have to be excited for the hockey fans that live in Vegas, and the ones that need an excuse to go to Vegas.

The NHL succeeded in the expansion effort to Vegas where other sports have failed. You talk about the NFL and their plans to go to Vegas but nothing has really materialized. The NFL has talked about the Raiders moving there but it seems like the Raiders just moved back to Oakland.

UCF's new logo
The Golden Knights will give Vegas back the hockey that it lost at the end of the Wranglers existence. The Wranglers were an ECHL team, that played in the Orleans Arena. Started in 2003, the Wranglers played until 2014. Outside of UNLV's club hockey team, it's safe to say that hockey is back in Vegas.

Let's dive into some analysis of the logo and the mascot name. When you think of the name Golden Knights, there's really not that many that come to mind, which is a good thing. The University of Central Florida is the Golden Knights, and they have a similar color scheme to the Vegas Golden Knights.
Florida Panthers

Another college that uses the Golden Knights as a mascot is Clarkson University. To my knowledge, best know for hockey, Clarkson uses more of a green and yellow color scheme. So, a little different than the black and gold but the same mascot name.

The shield behind the helmet is like the Florida Panthers logo, which the Panther head is placed in front of a shield. It's a nice look, makes people think of soccer logos but I like it. Maybe this a trend, is the NHL trying to move to logos in front of shields? The Florida Panthers debuted their new logo at the start of last season.

The helmet itself is similar to the one worn by the Senator in the Ottawa logo. Its a very similar style in helmet. Looking something straight out of a Roman legion. Maybe a little inspiration or influence came from that historical period.
Ottawa Senators

Overall, I like logo, it's definitely "Bold in Gold." Very professional looking, it will be interesting to see how it looks on the jerseys.

The secondary logo is a star in front of crossing swords. This would work well as a shoulder patch. I am not sure that you could use it for an alternate jersey.

Like I said, the Golden Knights puts the NHL at 31 teams, you have to think that they would not want to keep an odd number of teams. The question is, who's next?
Golden Knights Secondary Logo

More information on the Golden Knights:

Vegas Golden Knights' Website

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Columbus Blue Jackets Hot Start

The Columbus Blue Jackets, who are notorious for bad starts are off to the hottest start in franchise history. The team is currently riding a four game win streak, and an eight game home win streak. Leaving many people in the NHL saying, "Who would have thought?"

The season started a little bit rough, they had a good thing opening night against Boston. They were up 3-1 in the second period, and the Nationwide faithful were ready to start the season right. The Bruins exploded for five straight goals and won 6-3.

Two nights later, it was more of the same, the Blue Jackets found themselves down 2-0 until Zach Werenski scored a power play goal in the 3rd period. The Sharks quickly answered and it was 3-1. A late goal from another Lake Erie Monster, Josh Anderson, made it 3-2. Another game, another loss at home and it looked like it was going to be another long October.

The Blue Jackets had almost a week off before they played the Chicago Blackhawks. Something, clicked for the Blue Jackets during that time. Werenski opened the scoring for the Jackets. The Blackhawks answered for a tie in the second period, but the Blue Jackets had other ideas. The Jackets two goals in the second period would be enough, as the Blackhawks could only muster one goal in the third. The first win for the Blue Jackets on the season, and they started home streakin'!
Blackhawks vs. Blue Jackets

The Western Conference road trip we all feared, started with a bang. The Blue Jackets easily handled the Dallas Stars, 3-0. It was the first shutout for the Blue Jackets on the season.

A small hiccup in the trip was an OT loss to the LA Kings and another loss to the San Jose Sharks. It's a good thing the Blue Jackets do not have to play the Sharks anymore this year.

Things got back on track with a 4-0 win against the Not So Mighty Ducks! ;) It was the second shutout of the trip. The Blue Jackets finished the road trip with 5 points in 4 games, which in my opinion was better than expected. Especially, the way that the team rebounded in the final game against the Ducks.

Enter November, the Blue Jackets welcomed the Dallas Stars to Nationwide Arena. It was the first home game since the win against the Blackhawks. It look a late power play goal from Sam Gagner to force OT with the game knotted at 2. Seth Jones had the game winner in OT.
Hey Habs, scoreboard!

Next, came the Canadiens to Nationwide Arena. The Canadiens up to that point had not lost a game in regulation thru ten games. The Blue Jackets took no mercy that the Canadiens started the back up goal, as they pounded the Habs 10-0. The league took notice as one of the best teams had no answers for the Blue Jackets offense.

The next day was a quick trip for the Blue Jackets to St. Louis. The Blue Jackets lost in OT, not much to talk about when your team loses to the Blues. Facepalm.

The Blue Jackets returned home with a OT winner against the Ducks by the score of 3-2. The Blue Jackets finish the season with two wins against the Ducks, not too shabby.

Another home/away back to back found the Blue Jackets in Boston. The Bruins had the Blue Jackets number again. The Bruins had a huge first period and the Jackets just never got back into the game. The final score was 5-2. The Blue Jackets have one win and two losses in home/away back to back so far this season.

The bounce back came against the Blues, and it was beautiful. It was almost like the game against the Canadiens, the Blue Jackets could not miss the goal. The Jackets got the win 8-4, and a bit of sweet revenge against the Blues after the OT loss a week before.
A hug after a win is nice!

The Blue Jackets finished out the home stand with an OT win over the Capitals and a 4-2 win over the Rangers. The win against the Rangers was the 8th win in a row at Nationwide.

To bring you fully up to date, yesterday, the Blue Jackets beat the Capitals 3-2 in Washington, D.C. It was another one of those games where the Blue Jackets found themselves down early but did not give up. Two goals in the third period completed the rally for the win. It was the Blue Jackets second win against the Capitals in six days.

  1. The Blue Jackets are bouncing back when they are down. They used to fold and just take the "L" that is not happening. Whether it be during a game or during a road trip, this team is showing resolve early in the season. It is very refreshing to see.
  2. The Rookies are showing up. Lake Erie Monsters like, Anderson, Sedlak and Werenski are having great starts to the season. They are out playing some of the regulars and it is challenging the team to play better. They know how to win, they won the Calder Cup last year.
  3. Bob, the goalie, is giving the team a chance to win every night. The reason they are able to come back in many of these games is because they are only down a goal or two. Bob is playing great between the pipes and it is giving the team confidence they need to win

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Loss to the Blue Jackets Sparks Blackhawks' 8 Game Point Streak

Since losing to the Blue Jackets three weeks ago the Chicago Blackhawks have been getting much better results, and winning more games after a rough start to the season.

The worst part of the start for the Blackhawks had been the power play. They were giving up a power play goal 50% of the time. The normal percentage of penalty kill is usually in the high 80s or low 90s, to give you an idea of how bad the Blackhawks' penalty kill had been.

Since the loss, the Blackhawks have won seven of eight games. The only loss came in a shoot out against Calgary. They are currently riding a six game win streak.

The Blackhawks' point streak started with a comeback win against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The game ended in a shootout win for the Blackhawks.

Following the loss to Calgary, the Blackhawks came back with other OT win, this time against the New Jersey Devils. It was another comeback win. Hossa's goal at the 17:49 mark in the third period tied the game. Anisimov scored the game winner in OT.

The Blackhawks came back to the United Center to face off with the Kings. It was the Blackhawks best effort of the season to that point. They won the game 3-0 and it was Crawford's first shutout on the season.

Next, the Blackhawks welcome the Flames to the United Center. They got a bit of revenge on the Flames with a dominating 5-1 win.

The Blackhawks closed out the home stand with another dominating effort against the Avalanche. The final was 4-0 and it was Crawford's second shutout in the last three games.

The Blackhawks flew to Dallas for the start of a home and home with the Stars. The Hawks were down 2-1 after the first; goals from Hartman and Kane in the second period sealed the victory.
Darling kick save

The second game against the Stars started in a similar way. After one period, they were down 1-0. Kane's goal in the second period made it 2-1 Stars.

The Blackhawks got the first two goals of the third period. The Stars were able to tie the game late in the third period. Luckily for the Blackhawks, Darling made a huge kick save in OT. Hossa scored the game winner with 28.7 second left in the OT for the Blackhawks' sixth straight win.

Center of Attention

During the current win streak, the Blackhawks have aided greatly by the play of former Blue Jacket, Artem Anisimov.

Currently, Anisimov leads the NHL in points (17) and goals (8). It helps playing with Kane and Panarin but you still got to put the puck in the net. Anisimov is making the most of his opportunity to play with two of the best players in the NHL.
2010 Stanley Cup Champions

We've Been Here Before

Towards the end of the 2009-2010, the Blue Jackets beat the Blackhawks in two straight games 8-3 and 4-2. Over the next seven games after the two losses, the Blackhawks won 6 of 7 games. That run also included a six game win streak. That season ended in the first Stanley Cup for the Blackhawks in 49 years.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

A Moment in the Sun: Steve Rohlik

The Ohio State University will always be a football school but this year the men’s hockey team has started the season with a five game unbeaten streak. Much of the recent success of the hockey program can be traced to one guy, the head coach, Steve Rohlik.
Steve Rohlik has been a winner where ever he has been around hockey. Whether it be coaching or playing, success has followed him throughout his career.
Rohlik was a four year letter winner when he played at Wisconsin. Twice named the captain, he helped the Badgers win the 1990 NCAA Championship. He played 166 games during his time at Madison, compiling 34 goals and 47 assists. He was named the most competitive player on the team in 1990.
He started his coaching career at his high school alma mater, Hill-Murray High School, which is located in St. Paul, Minnesota. His coaching record was 107-2-1. In his five year with the program, the team made the Minnesota State High School Tournament twice. The tenure highlighted by a runner up finish in the 1993 Tier 1 event.
After two 1 year assistant coaching jobs at Wisconsin and Stillwater High School, Rohlik took over the upstart Nebraska-Omaha (UNO) program. He coached three seasons with the Mavericks. His time in Omaha was highlighted with the team’s first trip to the CCHA Championship Final in 2000.
From UNO, Rohlik spent the next ten seasons on the Minnesota Duluth coaching staff. A team known for its gritty and physical play, it was perfect match for Rohlik and his personality.  The Bulldogs made the tournament twice and all the way to the Frozen Four once.
In 2010, Rohlik joined the Ohio State staff. He coached under Mark Osiecki, who was a former teammate of Rohlik when he was at Wisconsin. This lasted until 2013 when Osiecki was let go and Rohlik became the head coach.
The 2013-14 season was the first for Rohlik and the first for the Big Ten Hockey conference. Ohio State’s biggest win of the season came in the Big Ten Tournament when they upset #1 seed Minnesota. The Buckeyes almost won the championship but a furious comeback by the Badgers ended the dream.
The 2014-15 campaign started with a bang as the Buckeyes upset the eventual National Champions, Providence, 5-4 in OT. The team finished strong, going 7-4-1 in the last 12 games. The Buckeyes made it to the Big Ten Conference semifinals before being bounced by the Minnesota Golden Gophers.
Last year, Rohlik and the Buckeyes had a tough start to the season but they did not give up hope. The team got things on track with a trip to the Florida College Classic. The Buckeyes upset Boston College 3-2 and then destroyed Cornell 8-3 to win the tournament. They finished the year undefeated in eight of their last nine games. They also were 3-1 on the season, against a highly ranked Michigan team.

Success has continued into this season, as Rohlik and the Buckeyes have a five game unbeaten streak to start the season. They started off with a huge upset of #3 Denver, who made it to the Frozen Four last season. They have added a shootout win over Miami (OH) and a sweep of Bowling Green to the 2016-17 resume. They are on the road against Niagara this weekend.

As you can see, Steve Rohlik has been a winner wherever he has coached. I believe at some point with his coaching, Ohio State will become a top ten hockey program. Right now, the sky is the limit for the Buckeyes, and hopefully that means an NCAA tournament appearance this year!
Steve Rohlik's Offical Bio - A great resource, used in the formation of this blog post.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Widespread Panik in Chicago

Panik Scores!
While the start of the NHL season has not been all that the Chicago Blackhawks have hoped for, there has been one bright spot and that is the play of Richard Panik.

Richard Panik is currently leading the NHL with 6 goals. He has scored in 4 of 6 games, including a hat trick against Nashville on 10/15. He also has points in 6 of the 7 games.

He had another good game against the Columbus Blue Jackets in a 3-2 loss for the Blackhawks. Panik scored a goal, and assisted on the other Hawks goal.

He had the game tying goal against his former team the Maple Leafs in the Blackhawks’ last game. The goal was huge in the comeback effort by the Hawks, which resulted in a shootout win. The goal was scored late in the third period at the 18:32 mark, just what the Hawks needed to force overtime.

Panik is playing his second season with the Chicago Blackhawks. He played in 30 games for the Blackhawks last year.  Panik was acquired in a trade by the Blackhawks for Jeremy Morin. Panik had been playing with the Toronto Maple Leafs’ AHL team the Toronto Marlies.

He had a breakout with the Toronto Maple Leafs during the 2014-2015. Panik played 76 of the 82 games, compiling 11 goals, and 6 assists. The 11 goals were a career high for the right winger with only three years of limited NHL experience under his belt.

He was expected to make the team the next season however he failed to make a roster with the Leafs. So he was sent to the Marlies. This was not the first time that Panik had been sent down to the AHL after struggling in the NHL.

Before being claimed off waivers by the Toronto Maple Leafs, Panik had spent a couple of seasons in the Tampa Bay Lightning organization. He started in 2012-13 with the Syracuse Crunch because of the NHL lockout. He finished the 2012-13 by playing 25 games with the Lightning. The next year he saw his play with the Lightning cut and he ended up back in Syracuse to finish out the season.

Panik has experienced success in the AHL, amidst being sent up and down from the AHL to the NHL in his short professional career.  He was part of the 2011-12, Norfolk Admirals that won the Calder Cup. The team also set a professional, North American record of winning 28 games in a row.

Hopefully, this success will continue for Panik. The Chicago Blackhawks need all the help they can get right now. They have had to start a bunch of rookies this season so Panik’s scoring has greatly boosted the team.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

How the Chicago Blackhawks Saved the NHL

When Sports Illustrated put on the Chicago Blackhawks on the cover, after the lock-out of 2013, claiming they brought hockey back, one had to pause on that motion. I, for one, was a little skeptical that the Blackhawks could save the NHL. Though three years after the lock-out the ratings don't lie, the Blackhawks are running the show, and Chicago is loving it.

The NHL has enjoyed higher viewership when the Chicago Blackhawks have been in the Stanley Cup finals. Five of the ten most watched Stanley Cup Finals games have featured the Blackhawks. This includes the top rated Stanley Cup Finals game, Montreal vs. Chicago, from 1971.

Outside of the Boston -Vancouver series of 2011, in game clinching Stanley Cup Finals games, the NHL has struggled to get a rating above 7. In the years, that the Chicago Blackhawks have been in the finals ('10, '13, '15), the rating in similar games has not been below 8. What this means to the bottom-line is that, on average, one million more people are watching the Blackhawks' Finals compared to the rest.
Toews vs. Crosby

Not even Sidney Crosby can pull better rating than the Blackhawks. The 2016 Stanley Cup Finals lost out to the 2015 Stanley Cup Finals in every game except one. The clinching Game 6 rating for 2015 was 8.0, and the rating for 2016 was 5.4. That means that more than 2.5 million more people watched the Blackhawks get the Cup, then the Chosen One get his second cup in 2016.

The nay-sayers will tell you that the NBA Finals brought down the Stanley Cup Finals ratings in 2016. They won't tell you that the same teams played in the NBA Finals both years (2015 and 2016). Personally, I think the hockey fans chose not to watch because they did not want to see the Penguins win the cup.
Stanley Cup Rally Chicago

It has not always been this way though. When the Chicago Blackhawks were not as good in the early 2000's, their attendance was near the bottom of the league. As the Blackhawks struggled, so did the ratings for the NHL. During the early 2000s, the Stanley Cup Finals struggled to get ratings better than 4.

Things began to turn around in 2008-2009, the Blackhawks were getting better and the league decided to push all their chips behind Crosby. The Stanley Cup clincher rating finally got 8 million viewers in 2009 with the Pens - Red Wings Final. They were topped the very next year though with 8.3 million viewers in the game clincher between the Blackhawks - Flyers. Crosby was no match for the machine that was the Chicago Blackhawks.
Taking Over Soldier Field

So why does this happen? Chicago is a sports town. The people love their teams especially the Cubs. Chicagoans show up for Cubs games even when they are terrible. Other big cities like New York and LA have their teams but the support is not always there. Example, the 2014 Stanley Cup Finals (Rangers vs. Kings) game clincher only drew six million views. This was two million less viewers than the 2015 and 2013 game clinchers. The numbers don't lie, Chicagoans show up and the rest find something else to do.

It doesn't stop there, this fall for the 2016-17 season, the Blackhawks will be featured in 21 nationally televised games which leads the league. They will play in their third Winter Classic, which also leads the league. The Chicago Blackhawks drive the ratings right now in the NHL. It is safe to say that a team led by Captain Serious and that kid from Buffalo, NY did save the NHL.

Stanley Cup Finals Ratings

2015-2016 NHL Attendance

Chicago Blackhawks Yearly Attendance

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Columbus Blue Jackets: Hunt For Green October

In the financial world, being in the green is where you want to be. Green means that your bottom line is showing a profit. Red on the other hand, means that you are at a loss. Clearly, if you want to stay in business being in the green is where it is at, and that has not been so easy for the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Blue Jackets routinely struggle out of the gate, but they manage to play better over the rest of the season. This makes hardcore Blue Jackets' fans frustrated.

The last time the Blue Jackets had winning record in October, you have to go all the way back to the 2010-2011 season when Ken Hitchcock was head coach. He was fired mid-season, but he went on to coach the St. Louis Blues, made the conference final last year. Yet, the Blue Jackets were still last in their division. Just food for thought.
Todd Richards

Claude Noel served as the interim coach until he was replaced by Scott Arniel for the 2011-2012 campaign. That season turned out to be a disaster with a 2-10 record in October. Arniel would be replaced by Todd Richards, and the Blue Jackets coaching carousel continued to spin.

In the lockout-shortened season of 2012-2013, play started in January. The Blue Jackets stumbled out of the gate again with a 2-6 record. They rebounded very nicely and just missed out on the playoffs due to a tie breaker. So, even in the team's first season without Rick Nash, there was hope for the future.

The 2013-2014 season had a better start for the Blue Jackets, and they went 2-2 over their first four games. A three-game road trip sunk their record to 2-5. They rebounded with a three-game winning streak at home. Then they dropped the last game in October to go 5-6 for the month, and the hunt for a green October continued.
John Tortorella

The Blue Jackets won their first two games of the 2014-2015 season. By mid October, they sported a record of 4-2. Then, a West Coast road trip killed all the momentum. After beating the Sharks, they lost games to the Kings and the Ducks. It was followed up by losses to Ottawa and Toronto at home. The Jackets finished 4-6. It would be a long season for the team; they set a record for the number of games lost due to injuries.

October 2015 was a mirror image of October 2011. The team started October with a 2-10 record, which included losses in the first eight games of the season. Todd Richards was fired and replaced by John Tortorella.
Blue Jackets October Schedule

The upcoming season looks hopeful, even though their October schedule looks tough. They open against Boston, then face San Jose and Chicago at home. On a road trip to the West Coast, they play Dallas in the second game of a back to back (Chicago at home, Dallas away). From Dallas, they go to LA to face the Kings and wrap up October with dates against the Sharks and the Ducks. All games except the Boston game are against last year's playoff teams.

It's going to take a bunch of effort for a green October this year. The Blue Jackets have a bunch of young talent they can pull from to get wins. They also have veteran leadership that can help the youngsters along the way. A long West Coast road trip can be what this team needs to bring them closer together. As long as they can stay healthy and work together, the Blue Jackets could make this a season for the ages.

Columbus Blue Jackets Season Game by Game

Columbus Blue Jackets Coaches

Sunday, July 10, 2016

A Moment in the Sun: Jared Boll

Jared Boll
Last week, Jared Boll was waived by the Columbus Blue Jackets. A ten year veteran of the team, the writing was on the wall for Boll. He was not getting much playing time, and was scratched in many games during the 2015-16 season. When he was given the opportunity to play he made the most of it, bringing the energy and the fight to a team that sorely needed it. He finished his time with the Blue Jackets as the guy with the most penalty minutes in team history.

Jared Boll was born in North Carolina but grew up in Crystal Lake, Illinois. He was originally drafted by the Kingston Frontenacs, but he never played for the team. Instead, he chose the college route starting in the USHL with the Lincoln Stars. He was named the captain of the team, and after a successful couple of years he was offered a scholarship by the University of Minnesota - Duluth. Though his style would have been great for the Bulldogs, he passed on that as well.
Boll vs. Voros

Boll found a home with the Plymouth Whalers of the OHL (Ontario Hockey League). The Ontario Hockey League is where many players go if they choose not to play NCAA college hockey. Boll was chosen as an alternate captain and quickly became a fan favorite. He spent two seasons in the OHL, and the Whalers won the title in his second season with the team. From early on, Boll was a fan favorite and took on a leadership role on both teams.
Boll vs. Parros

Boll was drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2005. The Blue Jackets selected Boll with the 101st pick. He would not start with the team until the 2007-2008 season. Unless you are a great player, you are usually drafted a couple years before you actually start with the team. It's sort of like the baseball draft, and unlike the NBA draft; where players are going straight into playing in the NBA. This helps the players get ready for the physical and mental demands of playing NHL hockey.

Jared scored his first goal on October 10th, 2007 against the Phoenix Coyotes. He would not be known as a scorer during his time in Columbus. He would be known for his physical play and dropping the gloves. He brought energy to the table and a willingness to stick up for his teammates. When it was called upon, he would wear the alternate captain "A".
Boll vs. Tootoo

Boll's presence was not only impactful on the ice, but as well as off the ice. He was always out and about in the community. He was a common figure at Columbus Blue Jackets' Open Houses and Draft Parties. I have met him a couple of times, and I think he one of hockey's good guys.

I am sad to see Jared Boll go, he was a great player for the Blue Jackets in his ten years in Columbus. Hopefully, he will get a shot somewhere else. He was class act where ever he has been. He has been a fan favorite on every team he has played for, taking on leadership positions when necessary. His energy has been just as high on the ice, as it has been off the ice. Personally, I think the Blue Jackets should do him the honor of retiring his jersey.
Boll at Krumm Park 

Jared Boll Wikipedia - I found most of the information on Boll from his wiki-page.

Jared Boll Fighting Stats - From; stats on all of Boll's fights throughout his career.

Jared Boll Player Stats - Stats from Blue Jackets website.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Chicago Blackhawks: More Soup Please!

The Chicago Blackhawks have signed Brian "Soupy" Campbell to a 1 year deal just north of the $2 million mark. Campbell played for the Blackhawks from 2008-11. He became a cap causality and was sent down to the Florida Panthers. He had made it pretty clear in the last couple of weeks that he wanted to return to Chicago. He stated that, "his heart was in Chicago." The Panthers offered him a $5 million deal but he passed it up to become a Blackhawk one more time. There are a lot of people happy to have him back in Chicago.

Campbell got the primary assist on Kaner's goal that won the Stanley Cup in 2010:

Campbell's return will definitely help the Blackhawks on the blue line. Though Van Riemsdyk is up and coming, it will be nice to have more veteran leadership. Once Oduya was traded to the Dallas Stars, the Blackhawks were definitely lacking some leadership back there.
Soupy's Cup!

Not only will Campbell be able to provide some extra leadership, he will be able to save some minutes from top line defensemen, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. Both of those players have logged a ton of minutes the past couple seasons. Having Campbell back will cut down on their minutes especially on the power play, if Quenneville does not want to play the younger players.

So, the Blackhawks got a veteran piece at a super discount price. The haters will say they only got a discount price because of his age. As I mentioned before, the Florida Panthers offered 5 million, and the Blackhawks signed him for 2.2 million. When you are as close to the cap as the Blackhawks are, saving 2.8 million can help you sign a couple of prospects or go after a free agent.
Soupy getting defensive!

I am going to stay optimistic about the signing. I think its great that Campbell is coming back to the Blackhawks. The top 4 defensive positions will be solidified again. Campbell's veteran leadership will help younger players like Van Riemsdyk, and assist on the power play. There are just too many pluses about the Campbell signing to be ignored. Soupy is a great player, and I am thrilled he is back on the Blackhawks.

The Legend of the Token Blackhawks Fan

Chicago Blackhawks
Ever since the Chicago Blackhawks have risen back to contention for Stanley Cups, the Chicago Blackhawks band wagon has grown by leaps and bounds. This has created a phenomenon known as "The Token Blackhawks Fan." It does not matter where you are, which teams are playing, but as long as you are at a hockey venue, there is a great chance that you will see someone wearing a Blackhawks sweater. The grassroots effort has gained so much traction that Waldo fears that he might be out of the job in the coming months.

The Chicago Blackhawks have not always been this prominent. For much of the late 90's and early 00's, the team struggled to stay out of the basement. Attendance fell towards the bottom of the league as the team went into a downhill spiral. It's almost as if it was set up like a movie, with a person down on their luck, and the eventual rise to power.
Toews and Kaner

The Chicago Blackhawks rise started in the late 00's with the draft picks of Kane and Toews. It was around these two players that the core of the new team was established. By 2009, the team was back into the playoffs and all signs were pointing up. The very next year, the Chicago Blackhawks won their first championship since the 1960s, and the bandwagon fans piled on the ship.

All of this winning increased the number of jerseys being bought by fans.  Not only by fans of Chicago but by other people that had never watched hockey before. By 2010, Kane and Toews broke into the top 10 of player jersey sales. By 2014, Kane was #1 and Toews was close behind. As of last year, Toews was #1 and Kane was #2. So after topping jersey sales, the rise of The Token Blackhawks Fan had begun and exploded from there.

I honestly would not be surprised to see books come out to compete against Waldo. Pictures of fans in the stands, where you can find the guy or gal wearing the Blackhawks sweater. It's great entertainment to try to find The Token Blackhawks Fan, especially during intermissions when there is nothing to do. Personally, I am always on the lookout for the Blackhawks jersey and you should be too.  It's great, wholesome fun for the entire family!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Columbus Blue Jackets: State of the Union

If there has been anything we have learned from the Blue Jackets, it's to expect the unexpected. As we move into the offseason this has been no different. As the team looks to improve upon a lackluster 2015 season, the thought has to be, how can this not trend upwards.

Last week, during the 2016 NHL Draft, the Blue Jackets stunned the hockey world when they picked Pierre-Luc Debois over Finnish superstar Jesse Puljujarvi. They went with the center over the forward. Let's be real, how many forwards do the Blue Jackets need? The other reason has to be Puljujarvi just had knee surgery and would miss all of developmental camp. Would you risk a top pick on someone that young, having knee surgery already? I wouldn't.

They talked about trading down the pick. Many of the experts believed that Debois would have been available if they dropped down to the 5th or 6th pick. This might have been a better idea, maybe get an extra pick or two to drop down. In the end, they picked Debois and you have to live with it. He might not be NHL ready like Puljujarvi, but at 6'2" and over 200; he fits the mold of the classic grind it out Blue Jackets player that the fans in Columbus have come to love.

The Blue Jackets provided more draft night surprises when they traded Kerby Rychel to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Scott Harrington and a conditional pick. Rychel had requested a trade early in the season when it became apparent that he was not in the Blue Jackets cards. He spent a good deal of time down in the AHL. A little bit head scratching here because it seems like they gave away a decent prospect for little value in return. Harrington had barely played last season and Rychel was a main contributor on the Lake Erie Monsters, that won the Calder Cup

In less shocking news, the Blue Jackets were able to sign Seth Jones to a long term deal. This is great in my opinion because his potential is very high. He is a puck controlling defenseman, who is young and should be a top liner for a while now. My thought is that you bring up Zach Werenski from Lake Erie and you have a great top line on the blue line. To make a comparison, Jones plays more like a Brent Seabrook and Werenski is more like a Duncan Keith, always looking to jump into the play on offense. The signing of Seth Jones, only means good things for the Blue Jackets in years to come.

An era came to an end as the Blue Jackets waived Jared Boll. A ten year veteran of the Blue Jackets, Boll was beloved by the fans. Mostly known for his enforcement roll on the team, he leads the Blue Jackets in career penalty minutes. Personally, one of my favorite players for the Blue Jackets; he was always out in the community. Whenever they had an Open House or a Draft Party, Jared Boll was always front and center with the fans. He will be truly missed.

Another era also came to end with the buyout of Fedor Tyutin. One of Scott Howson, the former GM, last laughs as he was booted out the door. Tyutin's contract was way too much than it was worth. He was making 4.5 mil a year as a second line defenseman. It was one of those contracts that you wish the Arizona Coyotes would just take off your hands. Not sure, what's next for Tyutin as he is getting older, we wish him well.

Other players that the Blue Jackets decided not to sign were Falk and Chaput. Falk was a top line defensemen that played with Werenski on the Lake Erie Monsters. He is a big guy that loves to throw the body around. A little bit of a slower skater but still, overall, a very skilled defenseman. Chaput never really got the NHL shot, I feel he deserved. A high energy guy, he was always first down on the forecheck. I hope that he has a long career in the NHL because I think he has a tremendous upside.

Well as the summer continues, I will try to update you about the Blue Jackets and how they are doing. I am a little concerned about what happened to Chaput and Rychel but on the other side of the coin it was good to free up cap space by buying out Tyutin. That freed up cap space definitely helped sign Jones to a long term deal, which is a major plus. We will have to see how Debois turns out, way too early to make any judgements there. It's going to be a wild summer, you better get your seat belts on Blue Jackets fans.

Friday, June 17, 2016

The Fight That Saved The Calder Cup

Fighting in hockey has always been a rather controversial topic. On one side you have the fans of fighting that say fighting is a necessary part of the game. Fighting helps the refs police the game better and it changes momentum, giving a team new life. On the other hand, you have the people that think fighting should be taken out of the game. They say that its unsafe and leads to health problems later in life. While I like a good fight, we can't ignore the toll it takes on players. Sometimes, just sometimes there is a fight that changes things for the better, and that also cannot be ignored.

Our story starts in the second round of the Calder Cup playoffs. It is the Lake Erie Monsters vs. the Grand Rapids Griffins. The Monsters took the first three games of the series. Each of the Monsters' wins were by one goal, so they were all close games. Grand Rapids won Game 4, 5-4, and whipped the Monsters 6-1 in Game 5. The Monsters were losing momentum in the series, and giving up many, many goals.

Game 6 had that familiar feel as well, after the first period the Monster found themselves down 2-1. A quick goal to open the second period by the Griffins, made it a 3-1 hole. It was at this point that Korpisalo was pulled and Forsberg was given the net. This is important to note because sometimes a change in goalie provides a spark for a hockey team.

Well the spark quickly turned into a flame because at the 5:51 mark into the second period, Kerby Rychel fought Mitch Callahan:

What seems like a minor part of the hockey game, changed the course of the game for the Monsters as well as the playoffs. Not even three minutes later, Chaput scored his second goal of the playoffs to make it 3-2. The comeback was on.
#Battletogether #Allin216

The Monsters opened the third period with a quick goal from Sedlak, just 1:43 had vanished from the clock. Werenski and Anderson had the assists. The goal knotted the game at three. Neither team could score in the rest of regulation so the game went into a sudden death overtime!

Lightning struck at the 12:32 mark of overtime when defenseman Zach Werenski cut to the front of the net and scored the game winning goal! A talented defenseman, known for jumping into the play at the right time, completed the comeback. The Monsters took the game (4-3 OT) and series (4-2).
Western Conference Champions

The Monsters faced the Ontario Reign in the Western Conference Finals, and the Monsters carried the momentum. They swept the Reign, winning the first two in Cali, and the last two at home. The series was capped by a double overtime thriller where Sedlak got the goal to send the Monsters to the Calder Cup Final.

The Monsters squared off with the Hershey Bears in a seven game series for the Calder Cup. It was more of the same, just like the series against the Reign, the Monsters swept the Bears for the Calder Cup. The series was capped by another overtime thiller, this time it was Bjorkstrand with the game winning goal. It was the first Calder Cup for Cleveland since 1964.
The Monsters With the Cup!

Now you can argue that fighting does not matter. You can argue it just causes injuries and problems later in life. This fight, Rychel vs. Callahan, changed the game and the series. Dare I say it refocused the Monsters because they played great hockey in the games/periods after the fight. Since the fight, they still have not lost a game 9-0, and oh yeah, they have the Calder Cup!