What In The Wide, Wide World of Sports Is Goin’ On Here


The Jackets skated to a one to nothing shutout on Saturday afternoon. Normally a road shutout is a good thing, but as with everything Jackets related the shutout is a tiny silver lining that should be heavily overshadowed by the great big grey cloud of poor performance. To be sure the Jackets played a good defensively, even great as they protected the one goal lead on the penalty kill in the last two minutes. Curtis Sanford turned in yet another brilliant performance, what would the Jackets be doing without him this year. But, one goal? One-stinkin goal? That just ain’t going to get it done. Yet, it was one of the off ice moves that was the biggest head scratcher.

The Jackets recalled Ryan Russell to take Mark Letestu’s spot after he suffered a broken hand in Thursday’s game in San Jose. The recall left the Jackets with the bare miniminum of skaters available for a back-to-back on the west coast over the weekend. Yes, Springfield was playing three games in three nights and calling up two players at once is a move that may have hurt them over the weekend. But, that is what the AHL affiliate is for, something ownership and fans in Springfield understand. Inevitably the Jackets came out of the game on Saturday bruised and banged up, and made an recall of Tomas Kubalik. Without critiquing the players called up, one has to wonder why only one player was recalled on Saturday or for that matter why the Jackets traveled to the west coast with the bare minimum of players on the active roster? Kristian Huselius was only put on IR this weekend and his injury dates back to the beginning of December. The moves seem to be calculated to leave roster positions open in case of trades. That assumes though that a trade returns more players than go out. Plus leaving three positions open is an exercise in excessive caution. The point being, what harm would there have been in carrying one extra forward at the beginning of the trip or sending an extra on the plane with Russell?

This is not the only baffling moves, or non-moves coming out of the front office recently. I will make no secret that I generally support Scott Howson. The man went out this summer and filled the biggest holes in the roster without giving up much. To those who would pin Mason’s failure on Howson, he did sign a back-up plan, a back-up plan that played his first game of the season on Saturday. No criticism of Dekanich, but that is how this season has gone. Plus Howson did sign Sanford to be the number third guy, lucky he did. Sanford has been making an excellent case for being signed as a reliable back-up with a better team next year. But I digress. I have been supportive of Howson’s slow and steady approach, but the recent call-ups make no sense. Nor does the refusal to acknowledge Arniel’s failure make any sense. Arniel has been exposed as being over his head time after time, mostly notably after the New Year’s Eve game. Now Howson has joined the team in LA, at the end of a west coast road trip when no moves are going to be made (any moves at this point are going to come Monday in Chicago or in Columbus on Wednesday.)

What does this all add up to? Who knows at this point. Some speculate that management is waiting on advice from Craig Patrick, if so when is it forthcoming? Not to rush the guy, but this team ain’t getting better, let’s hear some wisdom. Others have speculated that Nationwide’s minority stake in the team at the conclusion of the arena deal is the hold up on moves. Its hard to imagine that a minority owner would want the team to hold up on improving, or even wield that kind of influence. I can not abide the idea of major trades without seeing what might happen under a new coach for a few weeks first. Note that the Jackets have eight games in fifteen days after Sunday, and then a six day break for the All-Star game. A final two weeks for this roster under Arniel or is a coaching change in the works Monday? A new coach would have two weeks to put his mark on the record.