Jackets move Kozlov, defeat Rangers

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  1. Ohio Jones

    Ohio Jones Game on...

    Feb 28, 2002
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    Great White North
    CD - Nationwide Arena

    Fans in Columbus weren't sure whether to celebrate or grieve after tonight's 4-2 win over the visiting New York Rangers. On the bright side, the victory kept the Blue Jackets alone in 8th place in the West with 56 points in 50 games, 2 points ahead of both Vancouver and Edmonton, who have each played 52 games.

    However, with the win came the news that veteran Vyacheslav Kozlov, who had been such an instrumental part of the team's incredible run last season, had been traded to the conference rival Colorado Avalanche. Columbus received gritty forward Matt Pettinger and goalie prospect Leland Irving. Picks were also exchanged.

    Fans were shocked at the news, especially when the Jackets had been playing well of late, but it answered the question that had been dogging Head Coach Mike Babcock, namely why Kozlov had been scratched the last couple of games. At the time, Babcock explained it as a "precaution" due to an undisclosed injury. It seems the only injury is to the Jackets' hopes for the post-season.

    Kozlov had been frustrated this season with only 9 goals and 25 points to show for 42 games, but he was certainly not alone on a team that's struggled to find itself all season long. The move is even more strange when you consider that Columbus signed Kozlov to a very reasonable long-term contract just this summer.

    GM Doug Emerson faced the firing squad after the game.

    "So, great game tonight, huh? Anyone? All right, fine. We have the utmost of respect for Slava, and we wish him the very best playing with young (Sidney) Crosby in Colorado. At this time, we made the move that made the most sense for the long-term best interests of this organization. Now, can we talk about the game?"

    Emerson did say that he would never have considered the move if it wasn't for the quality coming back. "Matt (Pettinger) is a guy we've liked for a long time - since before he was drafted - and we think he's an excellent fit for our organization. He plays with grit and hustle on every shift, and he gives us another versatile forward that will let Mike (Babcock) try different looks. Irving - well, if you haven't heard of him, you will. The kid's got a great mix of talent and heart, and he's learning how to win from a team that's proven to be very good at it. He'll start for Canada at next year's World Juniors, you'll see what I mean then."

    With Martin Brodeur, Steve Begin and now Kozlov moved out for youth and futures, it's becoming increasingly clear that the Jackets have looked at the competition in the West and decided this is not the year for them. This being the case, trade rumours are now swirling around pending UFAs Geoff Sanderson and Keith Carney, along with leading scorer Brendan Shanahan.

    All three players, interestingly, featured in tonight's game, which was also notable for marking the return of sparkplug Steve Begin to the Jackets after his recent trade to Broadway. A fan favourite in this town, he received a warm welcome from fans. A less warm welcome from his teammates, or at least from Keith Carney.

    Midway through the third Carney lined up the forechecking Begin as he was entering the Jackets' zone and hammered the Rangers forward with a big open-ice hit. Begin went down hard, got back up and tried to skate away, but had to be assisted off favouring his right skate. Begin's skate had jammed in a rut on the ice and hadn't given when Carney hit him. X-rays after the game confirmed Begin had broken his toe. Carney was given a charging penalty and a game misconduct.

    "First time I've ever seen that", Carney told reporters afterwards. "Hitting a guy like that, and he breaks his toe! I feel really bad for Stevie, I hate that he's going to miss some games, but that's just one of those flukes."

    "Here I was worried about him headhunting", Begin laughed when told of Carney's reaction, "and he manages to break my toe! That's it - he's no longer welcome at my golf tournament! No, wait, he can come, but he has to caddy!". (Begin hosts a summer golf tournament to raise funds for at-risk kids' programs in the greater Columbus area. Well, he does in the HFNHL, anyway...).

    Shanahan opened the scoring for Columbus to extend his goal streak to three games. Sanderson added his seventh of the season. Both players came to Columbus after being acquired from the Rangers in past seasons (I think that's right, Sean?), and scored on their former team.

    Milo Minderbinder
    Columbus Discoverer
  2. SPG

    SPG Registered User

    Feb 27, 2002
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    Utica, NY
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    That is true... both are former Rangers wingers. I forget exactly what the deals were, but I think Tambellini and Aebischer were two of the pieces that came my way...

    I noticed the Begin toe injury on that charging play too... thought that was a little odd as well...

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