I've been a Blue Jackets fan since it was announced that Columbus would get an expansion franchise. I still have, and regularly wear, my first season tee shirt and a number of ballcaps I've collected at various events. And I've got to tell you, I have a few concerns.
Now, understand, I saw the late season run, last year, for what it was. A tight defense, Bob playing like he invented the goalie position and just enough offense to win games. So, I wasn't looking for some magnificent run into the play-offs, this year. I knew the Jackets were a bubble team. And still, I have concerns.
First off, why was Boll even signed to an extension? Let's be real, enforcers are a dying breed in today's NHL. Boll offers very little offense, absolutely no defense and playing him is an invitation to the other team to start taking potshots at goal. If you wanted a fighter on the team, what's wrong with Cody Bass? He, at least, knows what scoring a goal is.
Secondly, standing pat during the off-season was, at best, a questionable move. Look, I like the whole "brick-by-brick" philosophy. I'd rather see the team built for long term success than for one or two runs at the Cup. But that means you need to bring in some bricks! Can you seriously say that there was absolutely no one available, either via trade or free agency, who would have been an upgrade on some of the guys on the team, now? Yes, you signed Horton and I'm looking forward to him playing. But that was the only off-season move. Huh?
Another thought. Jack Johnson said all the right things when he came here and he did play well, last year, overall. But, honestly, he's the worst d-man on the team and one of the worst, defensively, in the league. Okay, we could use his offense, but here's a thought. Why not try him as a forward? If he does well, you could bring up Tim Erixson and that would strengthen both the offense and the defense.
Finally, could you talk to Coach Richards about his forward lines, please? He says he's looking for chemistry. Well, chemistry is developed by playing the same guys together, day after day, game after game. How can the forwards develop any chemistry when they might not play with the same forwards twice in one game, much less in consecutive games? It boggles the mind that we have so much young talent which, to all appearances, isn't developing. Tell me, is it Cam Atkinson's fault that he never develops into a sniper (If that happens.), or is it a coaching fault because he plays with so many different centers in the same game and can't properly anticipate what his center of the moment is going to do? Think about it.
What worries me is that, because of these problems, this year's Jackets are beginning to look like every other year's Jackets. Stink out the place through December, until they are safely out of the play-off race, then barrel through the rest of the season and giving us fans false hope that real improvement is happening.