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Cannon Blasts: Hoping for a drama-free season

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Also: some AHL signings, Gus speaks, and Trade Week highlights

Pittsburgh Penguins v Columbus Blue Jackets Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images

Welcome to this week’s edition of Cannon Blasts! I’m filling in for Elaine this week, who is busy with “family” and feels that it’s “more important” than writing “dumb blog posts.” (Not all of those are direct quotes)

As a point of discussion for the comments this week, please refer to this Aaron Portzline article from The Athletic. He spoke to Nick Foligno and Cam Atkinson to get more insight as to what went down in the locker room during the Western Canada road trip in March. As you may recall, the team was in a bad skid despite the trade deadline acquisitions and were in real danger of missing the playoffs. After a team meeting in Vancouver, they won seven of their last eight games and then won the first playoff series in franchise history.

“The message was just that we’re here together, right now, as a team, and that we may only have one opportunity to do something like this together. You don’t know what will happen from year to year, who’s coming or who’s leaving. But we’re here together now, so let’s make the most of it.” - [Cam Atkinson]

Foligno, from afar, was delighted when the details of the meetings were relayed to him back in Columbus.

“I loved it,” Foligno said. “I thought that was the coolest part, (hearing that) a guy like Seth Jones, who’s not usually that vocal, stands up and say some things. That’s awesome.

“It made a lot of guys better, because of the openness and honesty. Are you in or are you out? It really forced guys to be in and it forced guys to understand what we’re trying to build.”

The Blue Jackets — including Bobrovsky, who felt well enough to practice — were almost 20 minutes late taking the ice for practice that day, but the coaches didn’t mind. Tortorella has been waiting for the dressing room to mature to the point where it can run itself.

“That was one of the best practices I’ve been a part of,” Atkinson said. “Guys were loose, we were having fun. Tape to tape passes, scoring goals, celebrating goals … We were at a do-or-die moment, and that kind of changed it, for sure. It was an emotional trip.”

My question for you is something I discussed on this week’s Cannon Cast: will it help the 2019-20 Columbus Blue Jackets to be free of the drama that the 2018-19 Blue Jackets faced? That is, a team without several star players facing looming free agency. All the core players will be under team control beyond this season. Will that allow them to relax and focus on playing hockey? Is there a chance that the locker room could bond behind the “no one believes in us” mentality? Let me know what you think in the comments.

Best of The Cannon

I am very excited this week to announce the addition of two new writers here at The Cannon. elpalito debuted yesterday with a trade proposal, and Rachel will debut hers later this week.

We have been running a “Trade Week” at the Cannon that has gone on a little more than a week. We have tried to acquire for the Blue Jackets:

An elite scoring threat
Mitch Marner and William Nylander
Nikita Gusev
Derek Stepan
Jack Roslovic, Kyle Connor, and Dustin Byfuglien
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

Blue Jackets News

New addition Gustav “Gus” Nyquist made his first appearance in Columbus as a Blue Jacket:

Sonny Milano accepted his qualifying offer. Cleveland Monsters center Ryan MacInnis also accepted his qualifying offer, while fellow center Justin Scott signed a new one year, two way deal.

That leaves Zach Werenski as the last unsigned RFA for Columbus. We’re not worried yet, right?

It was reported by Elliotte Friedman on the 31 Thoughts podcast that the Blue Jackets were a team that entered negotiations on an offer sheet for Toronto Maple Leaves RFA Mitch Marner:

“I think what happened was, if Columbus was going to do it, it had to be for seven years. And I think what I heard Marner was looking for, or his side was looking for, was less term than that,” Friedman said. “But I had multiple people telling me that they thought if anybody was going to do it, it was going to be Columbus.”

Also from Portzline, Blue Jackets executive Bill Zito is riding in Pelotonia to raise money for cancer research while his wife battles the disease.

Around the League

Despite William Chase’s obsession with trading for Nikita Gusev, Knights on Ice explains why it’s a failure if Vegas can’t sign him.

Former Blue Jacket Kevin Dineen has been named head coach of the San Diego Gulls, the AHL affiliate of the Anaheim Ducks.

SBNation Rangers blog Blueshirt Banter has a very good breakdown of how each Metro Division team has changed this offseason.

Yours truly joined the Blueshirts Breakaway podcast to discuss how the Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky departures affect the Blue Jackets:

Ohio Sports News

The Reds entered this week’s series against the Cubs in make-or-break mode if they hope to compete for the NL Central title.

Halfway through the season, some players may start to regress to the mean. That’s not necessarily a bad thing for some Cleveland Indians players, according to Let’s Go Tribe.

I’m just happy that the Columbus Crew are still in Columbus, but wooooof are they having a rough season. They are in a 1-13-1 freefall including a Saturday night loss to Orlando in which they could not convert their chances. That sounds similar to a game I attended last month. Hopefully they can turn their season around when I go to a game again this weekend.