Tag:Scott Howson
Posted on: December 28, 2011 12:21 pm
Edited on: December 28, 2011 3:47 pm
 

Blue Jackets GM relents, says team will be active

By Brian Stubits

Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson has seemed to be stubborn for stubborn's sake in the early going. At least in public he hasn't been willing to admit the long odds that are facing his Jackets in their attempt to try and get back in the playoff race. Some might even call them astronomical.

Well it's a Festivus miracle, Howson has seen the light. The team as currently constructed isn't going to "flip a switch" -- one of those clichés I hate so much -- and start instantly playing better. They are what their record says they are -- one of those clichés I don't mind -- which is not a good NHL team. Finally Howson will admit that.

Remember, admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery (from Bob Hunter at the Columbus Post-Dispatch).

“This last five-game stretch has given us a little more clarity,” Howson said. “We’re just not good enough as a team.

“The first six or seven weeks of the season, it was too disjointed,” he said. “We had [James] Wisniewski out. We had [Jeff] Carter out. We had [Radek] Martinek out. We had [Mark] Dekanich out. ... It was just too disjointed to get a clear picture. The picture is becoming clearer now. We aren’t playing well enough and ... me as management has to find a solution to help the team.”

So what's the solution then? Howson still believes it's not changing coaches. It's pretty amazing that six coaches have been fired this season and none of them was Scott Arniel, but Howson doesn't seem interested in getting rid of him yet, doesn't believe the coach is the issue at hand.

He has some other areas of focus instead.

“We’re not good enough defensively, first,” he said. “And that’s a team-wide thing. It’s goaltending, it’s defense, it’s forwards playing together as a group. We gave up six [goals] in St. Louis. We gave up four [in Chicago]. We gave up six in Nashville. We gave up six in Edmonton. You can’t win like that. It’s impossible.”

So with the Christmas roster freeze lifted when the clock struck midnight on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, it figures Howson will begin making and taking some calls trying to upgrade his defense. The only problem is that's a lot easier said than done.

But it's not going to stop Howson from trying.

“We’ll be active.

“Everything’s on the table,” he said. “We’ve got to look at everything. We’ve got to seriously look at everything. Now that’s different than saying, ‘I’m going to phone every GM tomorrow and say who do you want, [Rick] Nash, Carter or [R.J.] Umberger?’ but we’ve got to look at the whole situation and we’ve got to consider everything.”

With that, every team in the league collectively began salivating.

If Howson is insistent on trying to upgrade his team via trades this season, he will likely have to dangle one of those big names if he wants to get any serious returns. It's unlikely that James Wisniewski would also be available, after all he is trying to upgrade the back end. Trading away a defenseman you have committed for years doesn't jive.

One concern too will be the fact that the Jackets don't have a lot of flexibility under the salary cap, so that further opens the idea that one of their big-name players like Carter or Nash could be on the market. It's tough to add some quality players without shedding some salary.

There is still plenty of time before the trade deadline so there is no urgency to get moving right now, but what's to gain by waiting? Howson has given the team ample chance to get things going in the right direction after they got all their players back in the lineup. Yet here the Jackets are, losers of six straight games.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: December 20, 2011 3:24 pm
Edited on: December 20, 2011 3:40 pm
 

Teams that are out of the playoff race right now

jacketsPucks and Numbers: a weekly statistical look at what's happening around the NHL. This week: A look at the teams that are probably already out of the playoff race.

By: Adam Gretz


We are not even half way through the NHL season, but we have reached the point where a slow start in the standings is going to be too much to overcome, and you can probably already cross a handful of teams off when it comes to the playoff race. And perhaps more than just the teams you would expect.

The NHL has already seen six head coaching changes during the regular season (and who knows how many more to come), and now that Jacques Martin and Terry Murray have been let go by Montreal and Los Angeles over the past week, all eyes have shifted to Columbus and Blue Jackets head coach Scott Arniel. Earlier this week general manager Scott Howson refused to blame Columbus' brutal start, which currently has the team at the bottom of the Western Conference standings, on coaching issues.

The season started with such promise for the Blue Jackets, in large part because of the big offseason additions of Jeff Carter and James Wisniewski, players that filled two of Columbus' biggest areas of weakness -- A No. 1 center (Carter) and a big-time offensive defenseman (Wisniewski). Unfortunately, whatever optimism that might have been floating around the Blue Jackets fan base in the preseason was crushed almost immediately thanks to a 1-9-1 start the team hasn't been able to recover from.

The eight-game suspension to Wisniewski to start the season, as well as Carter missing extended time due to injury certainly didn't help matters, either.

Entering Tuesday's slate of games the Blue Jackets own a 9-20-4 mark, giving them a league-worst 22 points in the standings. They currently sit (again, as of Tuesday afternoon) 15 points of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, which is now occupied by the San Jose Sharks.

Howson was asked about whether or not the season at this point is already a lost cause, and he refused to acknowledge that, telling Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch, “I’m not going to acknowledge that, no. Strange things happen in sports. We’ve certainly dug a hole for ourselves. It's a requirement of being in pro sports to keep banging at the door, no matter what's going on. So, no, I'm not going to acknowledge that."

Strange things do happen in sports, but here's something that hasn't happened in the NHL in its current playoff format: a team overcoming a deficit the size of the one Columbus faces to make the playoffs. More on that in a minute.

Meanwhile, out in Edmonton, Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini is reportedly still of the belief that his team, which currently sits six points out of the eighth spot in the West, can still make a run at the postseason, a claim that has left even Oilers fans in disbelief.

Does either team still have much of a chance? Recent history suggests that no, they don't. I'm aware that it's not exactly an earth shattering revelation to announce a team that is 15 points out of a playoff spot at the end of December is in danger of missing the postseason, but the point here is to see how possible it is to overcome that deficit, and whether or not it's been done recently.

Some things to consider:

-- Going back to the 2000-01 season, a span of 10 full seasons, there have been 62 teams that have been more than five points out of a playoff spot on December 20 (Tuesday's date).

-- Only four of them (or a little over 6 percent) were able to overcome that deficit to qualify for the postseason: The 2010-11 Sabres (eight points), 2008-09 Blues (six points), 2007-08 Capitals (seven points) and 2007-08 Predators (nine points).

You wouldn't think that being just five points in December would be such a tall mountain to climb, but it is. And along with Columbus, that's also bad news for the Hurricanes and Islanders (both nine points out), and leaves Tampa Bay, a team that was just one game away from reaching the Stanley Cup Final last season, and Calgary (five points out) right on the line. The Ducks, another playoff team from a year ago and just one point ahead of Columbus, are 14 points out and should also be considered out of the playoff race at this point.

-- You might notice Nashville overcoming a nine-point deficit in 2007-08 as the largest number, and since 2000-01, it is. There have been 29 teams that have been 10 or more points out at this point in the season since then, and none of them have been able to come back and qualify for the playoffs.

Even worse, if you go all the way back to the 1993-94 season, the year the NHL scrapped the divisional playoff format (Adams, Patrick, Smythe, Norris) and went to its current Conference playoff format (1 vs. 8, etc.), there have been 41 teams 10 or more points back.

Not one of them qualified for the playoffs.

For a team like Columbus or Anaheim to overcome this it would be completely unheard of in the current playoff format.

Ninety-five points has typically been a good bet to get in the playoffs, or at the very least, still be in the playoff discussion during the final week of the season. For the teams mentioned above to reach that mark they would need to finish with the following records over the remainder of the season:

Columbus Blue Jackets -- (Need 73 points in 49 games): 34-10-5
Anaheim Ducks -- (Need 72 points in games 49 games): 33-10-6
Carolina Hurricanes -- (Need 69 points in 48 games): 32-11-5
New York Islanders -- (Need 69 points in 52 games): 30-13-9
Tampa Bay Lightning -- (Need 65 points in 50 games): 30-15-5
Edmonton Oilers -- (Need 64 points in 49 games): 29-15-6
Calgary Flames -- (Need 63 points in 49 games): 28-14-7

Yeah, that's asking a lot, even for Tampa Bay and Calgary. Obviously, no team is going to throw in the towel on a season, nor do I expect a general manager to publicly admit defeat (which explains Howson's comments), but for the fans? Well, there's always next season. And for others (mainly Columbus and Anaheim), there's always prospective No. 1 overall pick Nail Yakupov to look forward to.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: December 1, 2011 8:21 pm
Edited on: December 1, 2011 8:54 pm
 

Brassard's agent not happy with Scott Arniel

brassard1By: Adam Gretz

Derick Brassard was the sixth overall pick in the 2006 draft by the Columbus Blue Jackets, and his career to this point has been a mixed bag of injuries and flashes of ability, all of which has been accompanied by a bit of disappointment.

After setting a career high with 47 points (17 goals, 30 assists) in 74 games last season, Brassard has struggled this year, recording just four points in 18 games for a Blue Jackets team that currently finds itself at the bottom of the NHL standings. He has been a healthy scratch in recent weeks, and is expected to watch Thursday's game in Calgary from the Press Box as well, which will be the seventh time in the past 10 games.

His agent, Allan Walsh, who has quite a history of making public statements in defense of his clients, ripped Blue Jackets head coach Scott Arniel on Thursday for his handling of the 24-year-old center.

Said Walsh in a statement, via Puck Rakers: "While I have tremendous respect for (general manager) Scott Howson and the rest of Columbus' management team, the situation regarding Derick Brassard has become untenable. The coach has a history of burying players and using them as scapegoats to mask his own lack of success on the ice. Derick has been singled out, almost from the very beginning of the season, to be the fall guy in case things don't go well. The Columbus organization cares about Derick and has been good to him, but at some point, one has to say, enough is enough."

Blue Jackets general Manager Scott Howson responded with a statement of his own, saying,“Scott has my full support with respect to his decisions on who plays and the handling of our hockey team. We all want Derick to play better and be the player we know he can be. The only person who will impact Derick’s playing time is Derick himself.”

That kind of sounds like a trade demand at the end of Walsh's statement, even though Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch says Walsh made it clear he's not requesting a trade for his client. Hockey Night In Canada's Elliote Friedman, for what it's worth, reports that the Blue Jackets have "tried hard" to trade Brassard with the Ottawa Senators showing interest. That wouldn't be the first time Ottawa has had an interest in one of Columbus' young players in the hopes that a change of scenery could spark something, having previously acquired goaltender Pascal Leclaire and Nikita Filatov.

As it stands right now, the Blue Jackets simply have centers that are better players and more deserving of the ice-time (Antoine Vermette, Jeff Carter, Samuel Pahlsson, Mark Letestu).

Brassard is signed through the end of the 2013-14 season with an average annual salary of $3.2 million.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: November 6, 2011 5:21 pm
Edited on: November 6, 2011 6:06 pm
 

Weekend Wrap: Sabres goalies; Jackets bottom out

By Brian Stubits

If you happened to have a family vacation or weekend-long wedding to attend -- anything to cause you to miss the weekend in the NHL -- here is what you missed.

The Columbus Blue Jackets seem on the verge of upheaval. There might be a goalie controversy in Buffalo. Georges Laraque is talking steroid use and, well, at least John Tortorella was the same as usual, so that's comforting.

Yes, just a ho-hum weekend.

Let's start in Buffalo, shall we?

The Sabres had a double dip over the weekend, playing Friday at home against Calgary then Saturday in Ottawa. It wasn't a surprise that coach Lindy Ruff went with Jhonas Enroth over Ryan Miller in Friday's game. Enroth has played well of late while Miller hasn't. It was surprising, however, when Enroth got the nod again on Saturday. Usually back-to-backers are split among goalies, especially when there is a quality backup in play.

At first glance, you think little of it. Miller is struggling and Ruff is just going with the better option at this point. Especially in early November, that's nothing to write home about. That's until you see things like this, from Sabres beat writer John Vogl of the Buffalo News.

"One of the Sabres admitted to me after last night's game: The team has just been playing harder in front of Enroth than they have for Miller."

That doesn't sound good. It could mean that Miller has been so good in the past that the team has become somewhat complacent when he is in the game. Not exactly what you would want to hear. You want your team to play hard all the time for any goalie. But it beats the alternative explanation of the team not playing for Miller for the other reasons. The reasons that bring about the use of words like Schism.

The Sabres are high on Enroth. That's no secret. If nothing else, he has earned himself more playing time with his 4-0-0 start this season. His GAA is 1.41 and he has a save percentage of .952. He hasn't surrendered more than two goals in a game this season.

But it's not as if Miller suddenly became bad. He has hit a rut. Every goalie does. He was solid to start the season when he was 4-1 with a 1.61 GAA. Since then he's 0-4 and has a GAA at 3.91. It happens.

I don't think many believe Miller will continue to struggle and Enroth will get the lion's share of the work. No, Miller is not likely to repeat his 2009-10 Vezina-winning season. There's a reason why seasons like that are called career years, but he's still only 31 and has been considered one of the game's best netminders for the past few years. That's why it's kind of a big deal when there appears to be a controversy.

But the good news for Buffalo out of all of this is that we know there are two good keepers in town.

Just when you think they can't get any lower ...

The Columbus Blue Jackets are in a world of hurt. They were obliterated by the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday 9-2. Perhaps making matters worse, they had to see Jakub Voracek have his best game as a Flyer since being acquired from the Blue Jackets and the draft pick Philly also picked up in the trade, Sean Couturier, abused them.

In all, it was the 12th straight road loss for the Blue Jackets. From the Other Unbelievable Stats Department, it was the 10th time in 13 games that Columbus goalie Steve Mason has given up a goal on one of the first four shots he faced. To see even more on how rough it has been for Mason this season, check out Eye On Hockey's Adam Gretz's post on Mason. Bru-tal!

“We’ve hit a lot of bottoms this year,” Blue Jackets coach Scott Arniel said, “and this is another big one.”

Rumors were circling last week that the end was nigh for Arniel and maybe GM Scott Howson. They each made it through the week. But this? This might be too tough for them to survive.

Last week the word was that Ken Hitchcock and Craig Button were the names being mentioned to replace Arniel and Howson in the case of a dismissal. Now the name being tossed out, at least for the GM role, is Kings executive Ron Hextall. Kings GM Dean Lombardi said he hasn't been contacted by anybody about Hextall's availability.

Here is the problem I see in Columbus. I feel bad for Arniel, he just doesn't have a team that can compete. While most feel that it's a roster that could stand to be blown up and a fresh start be undertaken, that won't be easy. There are a lot of big contracts on the roster. It still amazes me, but the Blue Jackets are pushing the salary cap.

Obviously things need to be fixed, but I'm not sure there is a quick fix to be found. Maybe the best thing that could happen to them at this point is to get the top pick in the draft and get a potential superstar in Nail Yakupov, the consensus top prospect right now.

Talk about Staaled

Eric Staal is off to one tough start.

The Hurricanes captain still hasn't scored even strength this season. All three of his goals came with the man up. At least he had two assists in Sunday's 5-2 loss to the Stars, but his league-worst minus-14 dropped even further to minus-16.

Is it the absence of Erik Cole on his line? The captain clearly hasn't been the same this season without Cole, who signed with the Canadiens in the offseason.

We're at the point where slow starts are no longer categorized as just slow starts. They are starting to be cause for concern. Staal is supposed to be the big gun. He has led the 'Canes in scoring three out of the last four seasons. But right now he just looks off. Against the Stars, he drew a two-minute minor that seemed to be out of frustration.

At the same time, his Hurricanes also ran into the red-hot Stars, who became the first team to 10 wins this season. If anybody doesn’t believe in Dallas yet, I suggest you watch them for a game or two. Loui Eriksson is for real and he and Jamie Benn make one heck of a duo.

Torts at it again

John Tortorella actually has the Rangers rolling along at the moment. His team has won three in a row, Saturday's 5-3 win over Montreal giving him the 100th victory of his career. So you would think that might make the often salty coach a little happier and forthcoming these days?

Come on. This is Tortorella we're talking about.

His pregame media availability lasted 43 seconds before the Habs game. All questions were met with either a nope, a shake of the head or just "no idea." That brought about a softball question to soften the mood. "What's your mom's birthday?" At least it yielded a smile, but it was another "I have no idea."

Oh Torts, don't ever change. Especially before the 24/7 series is done.

As for things on the ice, Torts seems to have found a nice little recipe by putting Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards on separate lines. It has keyed the Rangers' recent streak and has them looking more like the team a lot of people expected after this summer's moves.

Visor vision

Saturday night the Kings and Penguins played a doozie on the West Coast. Pittsburgh eventually won a great game that was decided in a shootout (collective groan now).

But during the game, the mandatory visor crowd got some more ammunition when Drew Doughty took a puck to the face.

Video courtesy of The Score.

It didn't save Doughty from being cut above the eye, but it might have saved his eye. It was a scary moment, but it's even scarier to think about what would have happened if he didn't wear the shield.

Of course, as you'd expect from any hockey player, Doughty wasn't removed from the game and helped the Kings pick up one point on the night.

Welcome back Bruins

Is this what wakes up the defending champs?

How good must it have felt for Boston to go into Toronto and rout the division-leading Maple Leafs 7-0? Really good I imagine.

Tyler Seguin recorded his first career hat trick. With the way he has been playing this season, that only seemed like a matter of time. He has clearly been their best player in the early going this year.

Sometimes it can be games like this that flip the switch. It was getting close to desperation time for Boston, it couldn't afford to fall any further behind. Now we wait and see if it rubs off and they show the form that made them so good a season ago.

Caps stop playing

At least that's what Alex Ovechkin thinks.

The Capitals ran into the stone-cold Islanders, losers of six in a row before Saturday, and fell 5-3. Despite the loss, it might have been Ovechkin's best game of the season. He only had a goal on the night, but it was a solid performance.

He couldn't say the same about his team, however.

“I think we have pretty good start. We score two goals. After that, we just stopped playing and give them opportunities to score goals,” Ovechkin said. “They’re young, they’re fresh and they want to win. After first period, we just stopped playing.”

Maybe they were still stunned from that ceremonial faceoff. (We just wanted to show off this photo of an Air National Guardsman dropping the ceremonial puck. Awesome.)

Quote of the weekend

Arniel when asked about his job security after the 5-2 loss:

"Nice question, all right. Nice question. I’m not in charge of that. I’m worried about what I have to do tomorrow with this hockey team."

Photos: Getty Images/Deadspin

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: October 30, 2011 12:17 pm
Edited on: October 30, 2011 9:50 pm
 

Report: Jackets could fire coach, GM on Monday

By Brian Stubits

You didn't think the Columbus Blue Jackets could start the season 1-9-1 and the head coach and GM would still be safe, did you?

Despite team president Mike Priest giving coach Scott Arniel and GM Scott Howson a "vote of confidence" -- further proof that is often more curse than reassurement -- amid the slow start, Aaron Portzline at the Columbus Dispatch reports that folks around the situation are on "high alert.

Multiple NHL sources have informed The Dispatch early Sunday that Jackets president Mike Priest has contacted Ken Hitchcock about returning as the club’s coach, and that former Calgary Flames general manager Craig Button has been contacted about taking on the same job with the Jackets.   Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson and/or coach Scott Arniel could be replaced by Monday, the sources indicated

Here's a little more on Hitchcock and Button from Portzline.

Hitchcock coached the Blue Jackets to the Stanley Cup playoffs following the 2008-09 season, the franchise’s only taste of the post-season. He was fired the following season when the Jackets were languishing at 23-27-9 in early February.

Button was briefly a candidate with the Blue Jackets when Scott Howson was hired to replace Doug MacLean during the summer of 2007.

He has worked for the Stars, Flames and Maple Leafs and is currently an analyst on the NHL Network’s NHL On The Fly.

For the record, Button, who now works for TSN, denied being in touch with Columbus. "While it's flattering to be mentioned in GM rumors, I've had no contact with Columbus. I wish Scott H. the best to turn things around."

He then gave another denial later Sunday on camera.

Part of Priest's "vote of confidence" was the fact that the team had yet to play with the full roster that Howson built. James Wisniewski missed the first eight games because of a suspension and then Jeff Carter was sidelined with a hairline fracture in his foot. Still, dating back to last season, the Blue Jackets are -- get this -- 4-21-8 in their last 33 games. That's not a typo.

As for the roster, it's equally as hard to believe that Columbus has the league's fifth-highest payroll. According to capgeek.com, Columbus only has $81,643 in cap space available. This in spite of the Jackets being in a "small" market, one where they are drawing the fourth-lowest amount of fans per game this season at a little more than 12,000.

Moreover, Howson has been working on a long-term plan for this franchise. He has put together a roster with five players signed through at least the 2016-17 season. That's a lot of foresight and commitment to the plan for the future. It would not be an enviable position for any new GM to come in to who would be looking to take the franchise on his own path.

Looking at the investment vs. production to this point, it's easy to see where a bombshell like this is coming from. Clearly the people in charge in Columbus aren't happy with a three-points-in-11-games start, but I can't help think along Priest's original line of thinking, that no judgments should be made about the roster until they newcomers have all had a chance to play some games together. Since Carter has been out since October 15, he and Wisniewski haven't been on the ice together yet this season.

Maybe Sunday night's home game against the Anaheim Ducks will be a lost chance at salvation for Arniel and Howson.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: October 25, 2011 9:48 pm
Edited on: October 25, 2011 9:50 pm
 

Columbus' surprising first victory

By: Adam Gretz

At some point, the Columbus Blue Jackets miserable start to the season was going to end. But did you expect it to end against the Detroit Red Wings? Probably not.

Riding an 0-7-1 streak into Tuesday's game against their divisional rivals, and less than a week removed from letting what could have been their first win of the season slip away in the final 30 seconds of a 4-3 loss to the Ottawa Senators, the Blue Jackets finally found their way into the win column with a surprising, hard-fought 4-1 win over the Red Wings.

Everything that had gone wrong over the first eight games finally started to go right on Tuesday.

For one, defenseman James Wisniewski made his Blue Jackets regular season debut after sitting out the first eight games of the regular season due to a suspension, and logged a team-high 27 minutes. He finished as a plus-one, recorded a shot on goal and blocked four shots. Goaltender Steve Mason, who has had a disastrous start to the season, played well and stopped 30 of the 31 shots he faced, even though he had to briefly leave the game in the first period due to an apparent injury. Columbus even managed to get some offensive production from a pair of their recent first-round draft picks as Ryan Johansen and John Moore tallied their first NHL goals.

Johansen, whose goal proved to be the game-winner, played a bouncing puck off the end boards and fired a puck from behind the goal line off the back of Red Wings goaltender Ty Conklin during a power play mid-way through the first period. Moore added his first late in the second when he blasted a shot from the blue through traffic.

The win comes on the same day Blue Jackets general manager, Scott Howson, penned an article on the team's official website talking about how the start to the season was like a punch to the gut. His players responded on Tuesday night with a spirited effort and impressive win over one of the best teams in the NHL.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: October 25, 2011 3:36 pm
 

Jackets GM feels 'punched in the gut'; Wiz back

By Brian Stubits

Columbus Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson is one of the most open and honest executives you will find in sports. He is candid on his Twitter account (@GMScottHowson) and openly talks about his team. Unlike many other people on Twitter who understandably don't talk about their teams -- like Toronto Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson, whose favorite subject is Showtime's excellent show Dexter -- he is real with fans concerning the inner workings of his franchise.

Case in point is his latest blog entry. Yes, in addition to tweeting he also updates his own blog every so often. In the latest, his honesty reveals a frustration with the team's 0-7-1 start. Here is a little excerpt.

Just under three weeks ago, we started the 2011-12 season with a high level of optimism and positive energy following a summer of transformation and development for our hockey club. What has transpired since has felt like we -- management, coaches, players and fans -- have been punched in the gut.

Ninety percent of our season remains and that is more than enough time to reach the goals we set for ourselves. We are bent, but not broken, and very determined to get back on track.

But perhaps Howson's most interesting paragraph is this one:

The first three weeks have been extremely difficult for all of us. The responsibility for where we are lies with me, our management staff, coaches and players. It does not lie with Brendan Shanahan or the NHL or the officials. It is not about luck. The responsibility for getting us out of it lies also with us... all of us doing it together.

First of all, you notice right away that Howson isn't ducking any of the responsibility for the woeful beginning. He also refuses to use any excuse -- which the Blue Jackets have a few of -- to explain things. It's a true candidness that's tough to find in sports any more.

The mantra is to stand and fight, something he plucked from former 49ers and Stanford University football coach Bill Walsh. Now if he could just get a quarterback for his offense like Joe Montana, he'd be set.

The hope is that can be James Wisniewski, who will make his Blue Jackets debut against the Red Wings on Tuesday night after serving his eight-game suspension.

“I’m happier than a pig in ... stuff right now,” Wisniewski told Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch. “Can’t wait.

"God has his plan. Maybe he wants us to have a Cinderella story and come back and win the Stanley Cup after going 0-7-1.”

That would make for a fun Howson blog, now wouldn't it?

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: October 18, 2011 1:55 pm
Edited on: October 18, 2011 2:54 pm
 

Blue Jackets put Jeff Carter (broken foot) on IR

By Brian Stubits

This is not how Columbus Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson envisioned this season starting out.

The team is one of only two who are winless (along with the Rangers) and one of his two star pickups -- James Wisniewski -- in the offseason still hasn't played because of a suspension. So just when they begin to think things can't get any worse ...

Jeff Carter, who was already doubtful for Tuesday's game against the Dallas Stars, is undoubtedly out. He'll also miss the next couple of games after the Blue Jackets placed him on injured reserve with a hairline fracture in his foot, an injury he sustained by blocking a shot.

“He’s got a broken bone,” coach Scott Arniel said. “Now it’s all about pain tolerance. ... It’s stabilized, but it’s still pretty tender.

“Until he can get a boot on that foot and be able to push with it, we’re in wait-and-see mode.”

Carter was brought in to give the top line in Columbus some serious juice, figuring a combination of Carter and Rich Nash would be lethal. But so far, Carter, who had at least 33 goals in each of the last three seasons, has been held scoreless. He leads the league in a not-so flattering statistic, most shots on goal (20) without scoring. But he does have three assists and a plus-1 rating.

The fracture occurred on a bone that was already bruised from training camp and where he had a steel plate inserted to fix a broken bone while with the Flyers.

Aaron Portzline at the Columbus Dispatch points out that Carter continuing on despite pain hasn't helped matters in the past.

But Carter’s willingness to play through pain might be part of the problem. He missed only a couple of days of training camp -- and one exhibition game -- after suffering the injury last month.

“If you can play with pain, you play,” said Rick Curran, Carter’s agent. “Jeff has proven in the past that he’s quite willing to do that, possibly to the detriment of the injury itself.

“At some point, when you have the same injury recurring, it’s necessary to sit back and let it heal properly. At this point, I think it’s premature to say what should happen.”

By putting him on the IR and thus sidelining him out at least a week, there will be no temptation to gut it out here. Columbus will need Carter around for the rest of the season if they want to rebound from the sluggish start.

Photo: Getty Images

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