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Noel, Noel... Brings Joy and Love to the Game

by Bill Davidge / Columbus Blue Jackets

March 29

What does a coach do in finishing off a season of disappointment? The fans would love to see the CBJ lose for the sole purpose of obtaining a top three draft pick, a non-guaranteed pillar of sort that the organization can hang a hat on. The coaching staff that is currently led by interim coach Claude Noel has a few other things in mind.

The staff would like to return and the players would love to be part of the NHL game next year. There is so much at stake for the hockey operations of this organization, it is a must to conclude this season with a breath of fresh air and hope. Everyone has a little stake when it comes to finishing off the season in style and with six games remaining, it is ever apparent there will be some difficult decisions to make regarding the makeup of this team.

Since the dismissal of Ken Hitchcock, Claude has taken this team and embraced it with his love and joy of coaching. He does it his way. It is simple but effective. Sometimes quirky, but ever so much like a father to his kids, he is allowing growth. One simple example... with less than a minute to go in a 3-2 game in Chicago, Noel allows Derick Brassard to take a draw in the defensive zone of the ice. He wanted to give him a chance to succeed. He wanted him to gain some much needed growth in his game, which will enhance the young man's production next year. The end result was favorable and the CBJ were able to score an empty net goal to secure a 4-2 victory in Chicago. Lesson learned.

Let us reflect on the success lately. Two wins over one of the top teams in the Western Conference, the Hawks and a heartbreaking 1-0 OTL in Nashville, where the CBJ played a solid 60+ minutes of hockey. A 3-0 win at home over San Jose; a 4-0 win over the Sabres... Noel's record is 9-5-4. The record is indicative of a team that is a joy to watch, but most of all Claude is making everyone in the room believers.

He has the players targeting new tasks each day without confusion to the mind. The players find there is something to be gained by his teachings. Pace and game management are implemented for an understanding of their self direction. With this effort invested individually, Noel includes the want to have each player invest in the team game. He expects accountability and the goal is to not let each other down. This is one characteristic of team building and currently it is succeeding.

To advance these practices, time and repetition must be implemented. That is time spent on the ice in a setting that is simple, yet demanding. It is centered on each player feeling good about themselves, but is gained by pressing the "warp mode" of mind and body. It is the balance of emotions and awareness that is being stressed as well.

Composure vs. chaos... energy vs. passiveness... The message of winning and competing is dictated by the team's slogan "The only way around is through!!" Cut to the chase... dictate the tempo with self worth and effort... there is no easy avenue.

It is a one way highway for this team to continue on for the fortunes of success. The measuring stick is two weeks away with the season concluding on April 9. Will the three-game series with the Detroit Red Wings be the mini-playoffs that will dictate the future of this team?

Stay tuned!!

*Throughout the season, AAA will bring you the Broadcaster's Blogs - "Bobby Mac's Blog," "Davidge Dishes" and "Rimer Ramblings." The Columbus Blue Jackets radio and television analysts will try to keep you updated on all the season action through their blogs, especially when the Blue Jackets are on the road.

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