All involved in the CBJ organization from the owner, the management, the coaches and players and even to the most important to all of us, the fans, share in disappointed that the season is over… so early. With a record of 4-9-2 since March 2, a shootout loss in Edmonton started the downward spiral.
One key ingredient was the 50 man games lost during this time period, the 17 power play goals against and only seven goals for also stand as factors.
The other ingredient to the degeneration of the season was the lack of success against our own Central Division. Late in the season we had the opportunity to have winning records against Detroit (3-4-1), St. Louis (3-5) and Chicago (4-4). Nashville has been more of a mental stigma than a physical concern, as we went 1-6-1. If there is any hope at post season play in the future, success in the Central has to be a must.
The task at hand for the management is to now give final grades and evaluations to the players and staff. It will be digested to see if they proceed in moving on to the next level. Hitch let it clearly be known there are only a couple of players that have secured jobs… easy to guess those 2?
Final Awards that I am handing out today?
Best Defensive Defenseman: Jan Hejda hands down, as he was +20, played against the NHL best all year and did exactly what was asked of him.
Best Defensive Forward: Manny Malhotra no contest, ranked second in the NHL in face-offs and movied up to play with Nash and whoever on the right side for the remainder of the year on March 17th.
Best Forward: Rick Nash… the heart and sole and now our fifth captain played every shift like it was his last. Is it ever fun to watch his growth over the past five years.
Most Improved Player: Rusty Klesla… after the trade of Foote, he stepped up with Hejda and was +9 his last 22 games.
Rookie of the Year: Jared Boll… again no contest, as he had 27 majors and ranked second in the NHL with 226 PIMs as well as chipped in with five goals and five assists.
Most Valuable Player: Pascal Leclaire… he started the season with NHL All-Star stats but overall did a great job. He was second in the league in shutouts with nine, had a record of 24-17-6, 2.25 GAA and save percentage of .919%. Overall he was healthy with the exception of the shot in the head by Freddie Modin that took eight games to cure.
Co-MVP was the staff led by Hitch. They were diligent and approached each day as a new challenge. Never once did one hear of the same excuse or spin on what was happening with the team. They worked hard and were approachable by all of us that had a job to do in the media!! Thanks gentlemen!
The future is certainly bright with a foundation and structure firmly in place. Stay tuned as the summer moves on for some playoff talk, draft information and any transactions that can keep all of us up to date with the league and team.
Meanwhile I hear a distant voice… "on the first tee in five minutes Mr. Davidge and his four some"… do you want to join me?
Talk to you soon!! Thanks for a great year!
*Throughout the season, AAA will bring you the Broadcaster's Blogs - "Davidge Dishes" and "Rimer Ramblings". The Columbus Blue Jackets broadcasters will try to keep you update on all the behind the scenes action through their blogs, especially when the Blue Jackets hit the road.