The Lake Erie Monsters have plenty to deal with at the start of the American Hockey League season without worrying about the fortunes of their new NHL parent club two hours south.
Lake Erie is in the first season of an affiliation with the Columbus Blue Jackets, and each of the teams trumpeted the new all-Ohio affiliation this past summer.
"They get to play in front of management more often," Lake Erie coach Jared Bednar said of the Monsters, who have started 3-1-0-1. "I think they're excited about that."
But amid the Blue Jackets' 1-8-0 start that has led to the arrival of new coach John Tortorella, Bednar knows he must keep his players' attention firmly in Cleveland, not Columbus. But it would be natural with a roster full of young prospects to have attention and gazes drift to the NHL. The Blue Jackets' struggles and the start of the Tortorella era could bring change to the roster in Columbus.