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CBJ Today: Leadership in all its forms

With all the absences in the Jackets lineup, someone like Zac Dalpe is a great fit

by Jeff Svoboda @JacketsInsider /

Each weekday this season, will post CBJ Today, a look at news, notes, analysis and fun stuff from around the Blue Jackets world. It's everything you need to know if you're a fan going into the day. 

The Daily Buzz 

Wednesday is an off day for the Blue Jackets, who traveled last night from South Florida to the Gulf Coast ahead of Thursday's game against Tampa Bay. Tuesday, Columbus fell to 0-6-1 in the last seven games, falling to Florida by a 5-1 score. 

An ole to Dalpe 

OK, let's just call a spade a spade -- I like writing about Zac Dalpe

The 31-year-old forward is someone I met in 2008-09 when he was a freshman at Ohio State. He's a great guy who has gutten it out in the sport, going from a hotshot second-round pick who figured NHL stardom -- or at least a long NHL career -- was in his future to a steady veteran who plays to support his family and for the love of the game. 

He's played in 10 different NHL seasons but has just 152 games at the highest level in that span, always riding that line between AHL standout and NHL grinder. It's a weird spot to end up in, but he's brought his lunchpail each day. 

Which is why I also think he's been such an important player for the Blue Jackets over the last 11 games. It's no secret the situation the Blue Jackets find themselves in a situation no one wants to be in -- after four straight playoff appearances, the Jackets had to sell at this year's deadline and are also banged up. Missing veterans and leaders like Foligno, Jenner, Savard, Werenski, Nyquist and Nash is like cutting the heart out of a team. 

It's no fun to go into each game undermanned and on a losing skid in which it feels like everything is going wrong. But Dalpe has brought it each night while also trying to fill some of the leadership void left by the recent moves and injuries.  

"I think it's very important," Dalpe said. "I think at my age, it's huge to pull the rope in the direction the team and the organization wants it to be pulled in. So yeah, it's unfortunate we're in the spot we're in, but I think there's lots you can learn from this for sure." 

As for stepping up into a leadership spot, Dalpe said, "I think I'm getting more comfortable. I'm not a guy that's played 500-plus games, but I think I've seen enough in my career to help the young guys along. I'm not very vocal in the dressing room here because you have (Seth Jones) and (Michael Del Zotto) and Cam Atkinson, but if I feel like I can teach some guys the right way to play, then that's what I'll do." 

There are many forms of leadership a team can follow. Such players as Atkinson and Jones have been some of the top players in the league -- the former a 40-goal scorer, the latter a perennial Norris Trophy candidate -- so there's plenty for the CBJ youngsters can learn from those guys. 

But Dalpe's story might be a little more relatable for the players trying to grind their way to a bottom-six role in the NHL on a full-time basis, especially for those players who suited up with Dalpe in Cleveland, where he was named captain of the Monsters this year.  

On top of that, Dalpe and his wife Cassandra are expecting their third child -- all boys -- in the near future as well. This is a guy playing for pride -- his own and his family's -- and it's been fun to see. To watch Dalpe get a pair of goals in the past few games has been pretty cool. 

"I think it's deserved that he gets rewarded with a goal," head coach John Tortorella said after Monday night's game. 

Couldn't agree more.  

Cleveland cools off 

Well, for at least one night. 

The Monsters six-game win streak came to a close Tuesday night in Grand Rapids, as the Griffins took a 5-3 victory last night. 

Liam Foudy, Carson Meyer and Dillon Simpson scored, while goalie Daniil Tarasov made 22 saves on 26 shots against before Grand Rapids scored an empty-netter. 

Foudy was sent to Cleveland to get playing time and grow his game, and it's fair to say that's happening. He has points in each of the last six games, posting a 3-8-11 line in that time span. Meyer is also hot, as the recent CBJ signee from Powell has points in nine straight games (4-5-9) as well as points in 11 of 15 games on the season on the way to a 6-8-14 line. 

The crazy thing is because of all the injuries and call-ups, Cleveland has just four players currently under contract with Columbus -- Foudy, Tarasov, defenseman Jacob Christiansen and goalie Matiss Kivlenieks -- while two others (Meyer and fellow young forward Tyler Angle) have deals that start next year. 

In the meantime, such players as Nathan Gerbe, Cliff Pu and Adam Clendening are on the taxi squad in Columbus rather than helping the Monsters, while another large group of players who could be in Cleveland are either in the starting lineup for the Jackets or healthy scratches. 

With that in mind, it's pretty cool the Monsters at 11-6-1-0 to have the success they've had. Here's hoping it continues over the weekend as Cleveland hosts Chicago on Friday and Saturday. 

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