Core Blue Jackets "back in the ring to take another swing"

Discussion in 'HFNHL Talk' started by Ohio Jones, Jun 16, 2004.

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  1. Ohio Jones

    Ohio Jones Game on...

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    They shook us all season long - now they'll come back to try it again.

    Still stinging from a first-round, game 7 loss to Detroit in their first ever post-season appearance, the Columbus Blue Jackets today announced that a number of their core players will be returning to Nationwide Centre next year, including veterans Shawn McEachern and Adrian Aucoin.

    Signing multi-year deals are wingers McEachern, Mark Bell and Jeff Cowan, center Marty Reasoner and defencemen Aucoin and Jim Vandermeer. Wingers Niklas Sundstrom and Noah Clarke agreed to one-year deals.

    With the news, GM Doug Emerson has ensured that his entire 2004-05 starting lineup (pending any trade or free agent additions) are all under contract for next season, well in advance of the start of training camp.

    "It is our hope that this certainty will give our players the opportunity to focus on their off-season training regimen, rather than worrying about where they and their families will be located next year. Of course, with the ongoing threat of a possible work stoppage as the league and the player's union square off over the CBA, I guess none of us have much certainty right now.

    "But as long as there's hockey next year, we know we've got our team in place."

    Observers may wonder why, in the face of a possible restructuring of league finances, Emerson felt the need to commit in advance to so many long-term contracts.

    "It's simple", Emerson responds. "I can't control what happens with the CBA, but I know a good hockey player when I see one, and I wasn't about to let all these talented guys go from our organization as part of a gamble to see if salaries would go down. If they do, then there will time enough for us to realize cost savings. The important thing for us is maintaining constructive relationships with our players so we can focus on our goal - winning the Stanley Cup."

    Not returning to the team are trade-deadline acquisitions Felix Potvin and Mikael Renberg, both of whom become Unrestricted Free Agents. The development of Jeff Cowan made Renberg expendable, and Michael Leighton is a lock to replace Potvin as Martin Brodeur's caddy whenever hockey resumes.

    Joining them on the free market are veteran winger Joe Sacco and a collection orf prospects/projects: Sebastien Bordeleau, Matt Doman, Paul Elliott, Pat Foley, Ryan Hollweg, Alexei Komarov, Darryl Laplante, Bryan Lundbohm, Jeff MacDougald, Olli Malmivaara, Michael Mole and Matt Shasby. As a result, it's a much leaner Columbus Blue Jackets organization that heads into this off-season.

    Next up for the Jackets is the 2004 Entry Draft... but Columbus is not looking to be a significant player at the annual run on teenaged prospects: at this point they only have three picks, and none before the 6th round - the legacy of a season and a half gearing up for this year's abortive playoff run. As Emerson observed, "some people will get lucky in this year's draft, but lucky is what it'll be - there's no science to picking from this year's crop, and we like to have just a little more certainty, even in a crapshoot like the entry draft".

    Instead, the Jackets will focus on signing their top prospect, Finnish stud blueliner Joni Pitkanen. Pitkanen is expected to seriously challenge for a roster spot next year, and someone could find themselves on the way out in order to make room.

    While the Jackets may dip into the free agent market later this summer, their interest is expected to be light despite having moved away much of their accumulated depth in recent months. With big contracts like Jeremy Roenick, Brendan Shanahan, Brodeur and Aucoin to deal with, there just isn't room left in the team's budget to go after any big fish. The Jackets will likely content themselves with doing some prospecting among the recent College and Junior graduating classes, and possibly adding a utility forward for depth. Some size down the middle might show up on their shopping list.

    All in all, it looks to be a comparitively quiet summer for a GM who is known for using the off-season to make major changes to his club... which means for the first time Columbus fans can expect to see a lot of familiar faces when the puck next drops on a new season.

    And that may not be such a bad thing. Despite the tough loss to the Wings, the Jackets have a lot to be happy about the second half of last season. By bringing back the same roster, they're clearly hoping to continue that strong performance and challenge for home ice advantage in next year's playoffs, while key players such as Roenick, Shanahan and Brodeur are still in town.

    Milo Minderbinder
    Columbus Discoverer


    The 2004/05 (?) Columbus Blue Jackets:

    LW
    Geoff Sanderson
    Mark Bell
    Niklas Sundstrom
    Jeff Cowan
    Noah Clarke

    C
    Jeremy Roenick
    Mike York
    Henrik Sedin
    Marty Reasoner

    RW
    Brendan Shanahan
    Shawn McEachern
    Kirk Maltby
    Mike Leclerc
    Nathan Perrott

    D
    Adrian Aucoin
    Keith Carney
    Patrice Brisebois
    Glen Wesley
    Phillippe Boucher
    Mathieu Dandenault
    * Joni Pitkanen
    Jim Vandermeer
    Christian Laflamme
    Brad Fast

    G
    Martin Brodeur
    Michael Leighton
    Mike Smith
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2004
  2. HFNHL Commish

    HFNHL Commish Registered User

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    Boy...how long had you been waiting to squeeze AC/DC into one of your posts, Dr. Jones? ;)
     
  3. Ohio Jones

    Ohio Jones Game on...

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    Ever since (US Sprinter) Marion Jones first knocked me out with her American thighs! :yo:
     
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