With a chill in the air, a change of the calendar, and a distinct need to turn the heat on overnight, we're now Ron Hainsey days away from the start of the Blue Jackets' regular season. (OK, I could have said Jamie Pushor or Anton Stralman, but I figured you'd like happy memories...)
The Jackets finished off their pre-season schedule with a 3-2 come from behind win against Carolina, but it was not without cost: Jared Boll will be lost for the first 6-8 weeks of the season with a broken thumb. We'll know more after he's evaluated later today, but you can't help but thing this opens the door a little wider for players like Atkinson, Kubalik, and Mayorov. (Ryan Johansen? He's on the team. They wouldn't have moved Brass to the wing if he wasn't.)
The club also dodged a bullet when d-man Aaron Johnson avoided losing an eye after being hi-sticked by Carolina's Joni Pitkanen. Remind me again why visors aren't mandatory?
The club had a 5-2-1 preseason record, with Fedor Tyutin not only leading the club in scoring, but 4th overall for the NHL. Jeff Little also pointed out on Twitter that Steve Mason's stats are looking pretty damn good - and he's faced more rubber than most of his peers, so I feel like we've gotten a solid look at what to expect. That said, remember that pre-season is just that..after all, Detroit is 2-3-1...
With realignment coming up as the next major NHL news story, Red Wings owner Mike Illitch thinks the Red Wings moving to the East is a done deal. Not so fast, my friend. Puck Daddy points out that the Jackets need the move far more, and that the system is far more likely to be blown up - and likely moving both teams into a new, Eastern based schedule. DBJ has his own thoughts as well, which featured into the PD piece. I do like the idea from Darren Dreger that the Wings would stay West, but only have to take a West Coast / Pacific NW trip once a season...hell, I'd even be willing to give the Jackets staying in the West some thought with that level of concession.
Another area to point out is the fact that while Bettman may have promise Illitch a move to New York, gold, treasures, and a Rolls Rolls Phantom II drophead, the vote on alignment (and the proposal to accept) will come entirely from the Board of Governors. Bettman is welcome to offer his suggestions, but he'll have no veto or approval on the results.
Over in the KHL, it looks like Alexander Radulov is not having a good season after his club turned over their ownership and coaching staff. Sounds like he might not leave the K this season, but I wouldn't be surprised if he'll land in Nashville next season, as the Preds still own his NHL rights, and this might be the tipping point. (Also, great work running this down by Dmitry Chesnokov.)
Over at Heart of a Jacket, Alison had a two-fer for us yesterday, first talking about a new tradition that seems to be forming, and a nice breakdown of all the "easter eggs" Skraut stuck into hisCall to Arms video.
There are now official NHL plushie dolls. Either kill it with fire or get us a Cam Atkinson doll just so we can make jokes about it being life-sized.
Ken Dryden writes an eloquent guest column for Grantland about getting serious about head injuries in the NHL.
Detroit's Brendan Smith was given five regular season games for his head shot on Wednesday night. Put in that light, the 8 game suspension James Wisniewski got seems a little more clear - it's obvious that headshots will be a major focus this season. Five games for a player with a "clean" record - perhaps three games for the repeat offender status?
Either way, I have to admit that if all headshots will come with a minimum of a five game ban this season, I'll feel a lot better about how the season is likely to go as they redraw the line between clean and dirty play.
(Speaking of rules that need fixed, Edmonton's Taylor Fedun suffered a broken leg last night after a dangerous collision on an icing play. Can we PLEASE add no-touch icing - or even hybrid icing - next season?)
AT&T U-Verse has dropped NHL network. As a U-verse customer? I'm suddenly considering DirectTV.
The Canadian Business magazine's Puck Money blog took a look at the NHL in 15 years, and while a large chunk of it is about how teams could (or should) be moved back into Canada from the US, it's a neat look at the potential growth and economics of the league...and best of all, Columbus is not listed in the "teams to move" column.