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Markus Hannikainen handles demotion to the AHL with poise, grace, and maturity

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At the beginning of the season, the Columbus Blue Jackets sent Markus Hannikainen to their farm team, the Cleveland Monsters. Hannikainen is not looking at the demotion as anything more than an opportunity to become a better hockey player.

Cleveland Monsters v Laval Rocket Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

At the beginning of the 2019-20 season, Markus Hannikainen was assigned by the Columbus Blue Jackets to the Cleveland Monsters. This was a bit of a shock to many as Hannikainen has been a staple of the Blue Jackets for two seasons.

However, as we have learned over the years, no player is safe from being sent down to their team’s farm club. Especially, if a player’s ice time is on the low end and the organization wants the player to shake the rust off their skates. Sometimes a player is sent down because a group of young players such as Alexandre Texier and Emil Bemstrom played a stronger game during training camp and preseason.

Regardless of the reasons why a player is sent to their farm team, it can be a rough change. Sometimes players begin to question themselves or question the team. Hannikainen, on the other hand, is taking this as an opportunity to grow as a player and a leader.

“Obviously I need to contribute. Score goals and points and everything. But I think overall it’s the whole game. All the power play, pk, all areas of the game. I think I gotta show and lead the way.” - Markus Hannikainen

At the beginning of the season, Markus Hannikainen was asked how he avoids becoming a moody player when being sent down to the minors. With a smile on his face, Hannikainen simply replied, “Well, I’m not one of those guys. That’s how I avoid it.”

Hannikainen also noted how impressed he was with how far the Monsters have come since he was last on the team full time in the 2016-17 season.

“When I came down here, I was actually surprised at home much things have gone forward as pro hockey. Everything on the ice and off the ice. Especially off the ice. I think there is a good vibe, going on her” - Markus Hannikainen

From a coaching perspective, a player who has a great attitude when sent down is a dream. It can be a struggle on both ends. Especially if a player doesn’t want to be in the league below them or feels as though it’s the ultimate insult. Hannikainen, on the other hand, has embraced his new role with the organization and has bought into Mike Eaves’ coaching style.

Hannikainen’s attitude about being sent down to the Monsters unveils the kind of person the coaching staff has on their hands.

“Well, I think that speaks to his maturity and some of his leadership that he has within himself.” - Monsters’ Head Coach Mike Eaves

Coach Eaves went on to tell us about a meeting he had with players at the beginning of the season which focused on attitude.

“One of the things we talked about right from our very first meeting is we get to choose to decide how we are every day. We do. Nobody else. So, let’s decide, you know what boys we get to play hockey today. let’s make the best of what we have in this day. That’s a pretty good way to live” - Head Coach Mike Eaves

He finished the story by pointing out that Hannikainen embodies this way of life.

“I think Markus is very much that way. He comes in trying to control every day. What he can control. That’s evident with his attitude on the ice” - Head Coach Mike Eaves

Despite Hannikainen being a welcome addition to the Monsters, the goal is to get him back in Columbus playing for the Blue Jackets on a nightly basis.

“Our main focus is getting him out of here as soon as we can because he’s an NHL player” - Monsters General Manager Chris Clark

Hannikainen has been called up to the big club a handful of times this season and sent back down days later. On any given day, we don’t know where Hannikainen will be playing. It could be Columbus. It could be Cleveland. All we know is no matter where Hannikainen is located he’s going to handle it with poise and maturity.