Greetings, Weekly Reader reader, and a good day to you. After more than 30 hours of airports and airplanes this past weekend, I am happy to be writing once again from Columbus, Ohio, USA. I am also very happy to report that my dinners over the past four nights have consisted of: pizza, pizza, cheeseburger, and pizza. Nary a curry or a chutney to be found, which is the way I think it will remain for a little while longer. My body is slowly making the adjustment back to the usual life here, although I have to say my first real battle with jet-lag has been sort of brutal. By the afternoons I turn into the walking dead. For four consecutive nights, I’ve fallen asleep on the couch mid-movie — which is something I typically never do — and I wake up in the pre-dawn hours feeling like it’s the middle of the day.
Soooo…anything big happening in the NHL these days? Oh that’s right, only the Boston Bruins defeating Vancouver to claim Lord Stanley’s Cup! Congratulations to the boys from Beantown on the victory, they earned it through a hard-fought finals series. This is Boston’s first Cup since 1972; so I’ll allow the celebrations to occur without my nausea over a city that has now claimed titles in every one of the four major sports in recent memory. Have fun with it, chowdah-heads, but now let’s let someone else take a turn at the top. (Columbus, perhaps? With the OSU football program in shambles, I could use some local sports happiness…)
Ultimately it seemed to be the curse of the skittish goaltender that did Vancouver in. (Skittish goalie…sound familiar, Blue Jacket fans?!?) After a solid first two games in the series, allowing only two goals in the two Vancouver victories, Roberto Luongo surrendered eight (!) goals in Boston in game three. The Bruins 8-1 win marked only the third time since 1927 where there had been a seven-goal margin of victory in a Stanley Cup Finals game. Even trailing in the series 2-1, you got the sense the tide was turning in Boston’s favor.
In game four the Bruins would coast to a 4-0 home victory, tying the series at two games apiece. Luongo would shut Boston out 1-0 in the teams’ fifth meeting; then surrender five and four goals in the final two games, respectively, to close the series. It also must be noted that Vancouver’s high-powered offense only managed eight goals in the entire seven-game series, earning Boston goalie Tim Thomas the Conn Smythe trophy as the MVP of the playoffs.
For me personally, this brought a sad end to my spring romance with Vancouver. I came within one game of being able to celebrate a Stanley Cup victory vicariously through them; and ultimately, it was still a heck of a run. But it’s back to reality now, with the 2010-11 season in the books and next year looming on the horizon. Lucky for me I’m a Blue Jackets fan, so another Stanley Cup challenge is surely in my future. Am I right, folks? Folks? [...crickets chirping...]
Speaking of the Jackets, stay tuned for what promises to be an interesting off-season for our boys in Union Blue. As Recently the team has parted ways with their overseer of hockey operations and amateur scouting guru Don Boyd, as well as director of pro scouting Bob Strumm. Both had been in Columbus since the franchise started in 2000, which led me to the question, “What in the hell took so long?!?” Defenseman Grant Clitsome has been signed to a two-year contract extension, guaranteeing that we’ll see his rocket shot from the blueline a little while longer; and also providing us with ample opportunities for the ever-amusing sexual innuendo humor in Columbus. Veterans Chris Clark, Ethan Moreau, and Craig Rivet are not expected to be re-signed; and Mike Commodore should finally and officially be cut loose by the team. The Jackets are reported to be in negotiations with defenseman Jan Hejda to try signing him before he enters free agency, but are likely to let newly-acquired winger Scottie Upshall test the free agent waters. I must say that is the one move which I question….Upshall seemed at the end of last season to be one of the few guys on the roster playing with any drive at all, and I thought he was an outstanding addition to the team. I’d like to see him stick around; but GM Scott Howson apparently is willing to rely on his track record of other horrible personnel moves to do what’s best for the franchise. The Blue Jackets will be freeing up a good amount of salary cap space after the cumulative effect of all these moves….so perhaps it will be used to not acquire either a center or a defenseman who’s worth a salt, sticking with the recent trends. (What, me bitter?!?)
I hear through the rumor mill that Fire That Cannon has some special things in the works for the next couple weeks, so be sure to check back often for all the fun. Enjoy your summer day, Columbus, and remember: there’s no place like home.