NOTE: This is the weekly column of BlueJackets.com writer Rob Mixer. Follow Rob on Twitter by clicking here, and follow his regular updates on the CBJ Today blog.
Though the timing could hardly be described as ideal, a quartet of Blue Jackets prospects are faced with an enormous opportunity.
Their mission: take the next step in their development as professional hockey players and help the Springfield Falcons compete for a Calder Cup championship. No middle ground, pretty cut and dry. Just make it happen. Get it done.
And thus the journey begins for Ryan Johansen, Cam Atkinson, John Moore and Tim Erixon. Four names that, while they will not be going at it alone, stand out because of the expectations which were shouldered upon entering the National Hockey League -- and also because of the valuable NHL experience they can pass on to their new teammates.
Brad Larsen is in his first season as the Falcons' head coach, but he has a pretty solid handle on the team after serving as assistant coach last year. Like I said last week, Larsen's a no-nonsense guy that demands accountability from every player.
Continue reading Rob's column by clicking here >>
How far back does your Blue Jackets memory go?
Let's see if we can give it a workout with this week's Trivia Tuesday contest. If you're like me, remembering where you parked your car in a parking lot can be tricky, so it's best for me to write the question and let you all find the answer.
As a former goaltender myself, I happen to like shutouts. I like recording them just as much as I like witnessing them. A clean sheet for a netminder is the best feeling (well, second-best to team wins). With that being said....
Here's the question: which goaltender recorded the first shutout in Blue Jackets franchise history, and who was the opponent?
Submit your official entry form by clicking here >>
Gary Agnew once told me: "Boone Jenner is the kind of player you want on the ice in every crucial situation. He's a special player."
The former Blue Jackets assistant coach stepped in last year as head coach of the Oshawa Generals, Jenner's junior club in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). There wasn't much to be optimistic about early on, as the club had been struggling and Agnew was getting to know his new team.
But it didn't take him long to realize he had a unique player in Jenner, who unfortunately missed parts of the Generals' season due to both injury and participation in the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship. Oshawa rebounded, though, and managed to scrape its way into the OHL playoffs before bowing out in the first round to Niagara.
Starting this year, there's a new attitude around General Motors Centre and it begins with a new bench boss. Agnew's contract was not renewed, opening the door for D.J. Smith to leave his post as assistant coach with the Windsor Spitfires after seven seasons -- and two Memorial Cup championships.
The 35-year-old was a rugged, no-nonsense player, and that's how he wants his teams to play. Given Jenner's workmanlike demeanor on and off the ice, the partnership between he and the new coach only seems like a natural fit.
Continue reading this story by clicking here >>
NOTE: This is the weekly column of BlueJackets.com writer Rob Mixer. Follow Rob on Twitter @RobMixer, and be sure to check for his regular updates on the CBJ Today blog.
I spent 15 minutes on the phone with Brad Larsen back in June, and that's all it took for me to know he's going to be a really good head coach.
As a player, he was comprised of a lot of heart and a lot of soul -- a coach's dream. He was the kind of guy that teams win championships with, and can't win them without. An ideal "glue guy," he was the lunch pail player every night, and that's exactly what he wants his Springfield Falcons team to be like.
The first word he mentioned to me was accountability, and how he wants that sole principle to be the most prominent throughout his locker room. He talked about the Colorado Avalanche teams he played on, and how accountable players were the engine behind their success -- and when he played in Atlanta, that was the culture they were trying to create.
He's going to have an opportunity to shape a young and talented Falcons club as training camp gets under way in the next couple of weeks.
Read the rest of the column by clicking here >>
How well do you know your Blue Jackets history?
We suspect you're pretty good at it, given the fact that we really can't fool anyone with our Trivia Tuesday questions. But...because it's getting close to hockey season and we want to test you out, we're reaching into the archive for a tough question this week.
As always, the rules and instructions are the same. Just complete the form below and be sure to include your answer to the question. Hit "submit" and you're good to go!
THIS WEEK'S QUESTION...
Who is the only player in Blue Jackets franchise history to score two penalty shot goals in the same season?
Remember -- you can't win if you don't enter! Good luck!
Click here to submit YOUR official entry!
After a summer of training at his home in Ann Arbor, Mich., Johnson had originally planned to arrive on the weekend before training camp, putting him in Columbus somewhere around September 15. That was the plan as recently as last week, but he decided to switch it up.
As most of his teammates started to arrive in town over the past couple of weeks, Johnson wanted to get started as soon as possible. He made his first appearance at the informal player practices this morning at the OhioHealth Ice Haus, joining a group that's in less need of "fill-in" players as the days progress.
Once he was on the ice with the group, it was old hat for the 25-year-old blueliner. Johnson jumped right into the fray with usual defense partner James Wisniewski, and just like that, "controlled chaos" had been reborn.
Click here for the full report from today's practice >>
You could sense it in the OhioHealth Ice Haus this morning. Hockey's on the horizon, and the jam packed sheet of ice was blatant evidence of that.
By my count, we're approaching 20 players who have arrived in Columbus and are participating in the informal player skates. My math could be way off, but in this case, I trust myself to perform a routine head count.
What's also becoming apparent: the nature of these skates is becoming far less leisurely, and much more business-like. With the growing number of players taking part, that means everyone has less time to get their work in and get up to NHL speed. Training camp looms just two weeks away, and the goal is to hit the ground running -- not use camp to get your "sea legs" under you again.
As he has done from the outset, former Ohio State assistant/current ECHL assistant JB Bittner led the practice session and got a few drills in with the guys before giving way to an extended scrimmage. Today's skate was about 90 minutes in length, somewhat longer than in recent days -- and there was no shortage of competitive spirit running through the building.
Click here to read more from today's player practice >>
"Player practices," or whatever you wish to call them, can sometimes be unpredictable. You're never sure who's going to be there, and it's hard to be certain what the players actually get out of them.
It's even more difficult for those covering the team, because you're not sure if these are just skates to get the guys' legs going again, or if they're actually thinking about Oct. 13 when they embark on a 3-on-1 against a helpless, unsuspecting local fill-in goalie.
But after spending a week around some of the Blue Jackets players at the Ohio Health Ice Haus, it's pretty clear these guys are gearing up, and they're doing so together. They can't stress enough that this is a close-knit team, one that goes about its business together and tackles all obstacles ensemble.
Did I think I'd find this out in early September? Not a chance, but I'm pleased to report that the epicenter of optimism around the club can be found in the locker room.
Click here to read the recap of today's practice >>
And if that wasn't embarrassing enough, I miscounted the total number of players who were skating. In my defense, a couple of the guys left early so I didn't have a full count. It's reassuring to know that I'm not totally falling apart just prior the season.
On to today's business: a few new arrivals joined the growing group that's already in Columbus. Atkinson and Derek MacKenzie are the two latest to lace 'em up with their teammates, and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky was back on the ice for the full session.
After a drill-heavy practice on Wednesday, today's skate was mostly a scrimmage between the guys - and it was a lot of fun to watch.
Click here to read more from today's practice >>
No sooner did I mention that this week is a big one for player arrivals did more new faces show up at the OhioHealth Ice Haus this morning.
Comparatively speaking, the weather outside was much better today than yesterday, but when you're inside an ice rink and hearing the familiar sound of skates carving up ice, there's no place I would rather be. It's even better than a round of golf on a sunny day beside the ocean, which in my book, is second only to a new jar of Nutella.
May have been kidding about that last part. But, alas.
A few more guys joined the ranks today at the Ice Haus, and the total now sits somewhere between 13 and 15 players who have arrived in town. Forward Cam Atkinson, who will be living with the Umberger family this season, is due to arrive sometime this evening and is expected to skate with the group later in the week.
Adrian Aucoin, James Wisniewski, Steve Masonand Artem Anisimov were additions to the Wednesday group after being absent for the prior day's session. Mason, sporting some new-look leg pads featuring the club's third jersey color scheme, skated for the full hour-plus and looked good in his first action.
Click here to read the full story >>