So, Nationwide is hosting next year's all-star game. Excuse me while I contain my excitement. (Zzzzzzzzzzzzz) Oh, sorry.
Quick question. How many of you can afford to buy tickets to such a game? I know I can't. And, really, how many people even bother with the NHL's joke called the All-Star Game? I mean, come on, the team captains picking the teams? A distinct lack of defense? They might as well call next year's "game" the Shootout at the Nationwide Corral.
Okay, yes, it will be great to have reporters, media types and team/league officials finding out just how much Central Ohio enjoys hockey. And getting all them to see that, yes, Columbus really is a hockey town should really cut down on all the "Columbus is moving to (insert city here)" crap that constantly pops up. And I especially hope that the Jackets are having a competitive season, next year, too. Otherwise, all those reporters, media types, etc. are going to be reading Portzline, Arace and the rest of the morons at the Dispatch slamming the team. (Honestly, can somebody explain to me how Portzline ever got the reputation as a knowledgeable hockey reporter? Other than his saying the 2013 ASG is coming to Columbus before the announcement, I cannot remember a single prediction of his that was correct.)
What I truly hope, though, is that not only will the Jackets be competing for a play-off spot, next year. Not only will the Jackets have more than just Nash and Carter representing the team in the ASG. Not only will the hockey world realize that Columbus is a hockey town. But that we'll be hearing/reading stories questioning why Moore, Atkinson, Savard and others are not representing in the skills competition, rookie game and the ASG in some combination.
What I fear and half expect is that Howson will find some way to fuck things up by not having the right coach, not adding the right players, trading away the wrong players or some combination of the three, leading to another wasted season and Rick Nash being the Jackets' sole representative to the ASG ....... again.
Trust me, I think that Howson has done quite well in rebuilding the Jackets and the organization from the mess that Dougie Mac left. The organization has never had so much talent. Either drafted by Howson, or developed by coaches and personnel he hired, we have potential stars in Johansen, Moore, Brassard, Atkinson, York, Kubilak and more. And let's not forget he brought in Carter, Wiz, Prospal and others to plug holes. So, let's do give Howson the applause he deserves for what he has accomplished.
The thing is, it has becoming clear that Scott Howson is the GM equivalent of coach Dave King. A great developer, someone who can spot raw talent and get the training that talent needs. But not someone who should be in charge of taking that talent to the next level of winning consistently. Howson has accomplished what needed to be done when he was brought in, taking a moribund system and making it worthwhile. Let's thank him, pat him on the back for a job well done and thank him for his services, explaining that it's time or a change of direction.
It is time for J.P. McConnell and the ownership group to bring in a GM along the lines of Craig Patrick. Maybe not Patrick himself, but someone with his skill set. That being a leader and talent manager who knows how to put together a consistently winning team. Someone who understands that you don't really need superstars, or even more than a couple of stars to challenge for the Cup. You need a playing philosophy and the right players for that philosophy. There are several good candidates and I hope that quiet feelers are being sent to some of them.
Lately, there have been many calls for Mike Priest to be fired, as well. I see this as less than required. Priest is a money man, no more. I have no problem with him managing the business side of the CBJ, especially after the purse strings were loosened on player contracts. As long as Priest continues to simply manage the business side, I don't see him as a problem. If he starts messing with the hockey side, things will be different.