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On The Road With The Blue Jackets presented by AAA Ohio

by Staff Writer / Columbus Blue Jackets
Blue Jackets radio analyst Bill Davidge shares his experiences on the team's current two-game road trip through Dallas and Phoenix. The team left Columbus on Thursday afternoon to fly out to Dallas. Following Friday night's game at the Stars, the team flew to Phoenix to prepare for Sunday's game against the Coyotes.

Past Versions of On the Road with the Blue Jackets presented by AAA Ohio
The California Trip

November 18, 2005
Dallas & Phoenix Trip... Does One Take a Coat or Not?

Before the team leaves for the western swing for two games, the toughest mind boggling decision for some of us, is whether to take a coat or not. Do you wear a coat and carry it around with you the whole trip, or do you leave it at home. Before the trip begins it is 33 degrees in Columbus and 65 degrees in Dallas and 80 degrees in Phoenix. George and I both look at each other and decide????? So, we took our coats and we didn’t feel all that bad either, as we spotted our new addition to the CBJ Sergei Fedorov plugging his way across the tarmac toward the plane. He was wearing his ski hat or toque or toboggan. (Depending what country you are from). Manny Malhotra. also adorns the lid to keep the ears and melon warm on a blustery day leaving Columbus.

When we arrived in Dallas another tough decision was bequeathed upon the cast of broadcasters. It was whether to eat at the nearby Capital Grill or Bob’s. Both places are noted for their Texas beef and flavorful ribs but when having dinner with Jeff Rimer the final decision was simple... which place was cheaper? It turned out to be the Capital Grill. All joking aside, we had a nice dinner and endured the hockey talk, embracing the positive addition of Sergei Fedorov to the team. It was also great to see the coaches all huddled with their kind and the majority of players together eating as a group as well.

Game day is game day. Players get up early and get to the rink for the morning skate around 10 am. Some of us get up and get an early workout plus walk down to the American Airlines Center. Others sleep in and catch the bus at 10:15am. After good discussions in the morning skate with both teams (by the way Bill Guerin and Mike Modano say hello to Columbus…they played for Team USA in the fall of 2004 and Columbus was the host city for the squad and they both concur they had a great time with the city and the golf courses) A quick lunch (how about a cobb salad wrap) and off for an afternoon of reading and wrapping up some story lines for the game. And I know a few of us knocked off a quick afternoon siesta to get ready for the game... we are in Texas you know.

The game was a fun one to call. The listeners were involved with informative emails and the boisterous crowd was watching an even battle of bodies for two solid periods. It was tied 3-3 in the third period and then 3 goals in a span on 6:04 allowed Dallas walk away with their 12th win of the year, but it wasn’t without an upside. The power play went 2-6 with Berard scoring both goals…the play of Alexandre Picard was inspiring as he battled every shift…. Duvie Wescott scoring his first career goal in the NHL…..and the highlight of the night as Fedorov becomes the All-time Russian Leader in points with 1221, passing Alexander Mogilny. Congratulations are in order.

The downside in the majority of our losses so far this year lies in the fact that our forwards still have to contribute more to the offense of the team. The team also must secure the defensive part of the game for a total of 60 minutes, meaning play the whole game. The forwards have a part in that as well. Give the Dallas Stars credit for their effort. This team has a big upside, now scoring power play goals in 11 consecutive games and also scoring 3+ goals in 12 consecutive, 2 shy of a club record. Numbers no one can ever argue against.

Playing in American Airlines Center and broadcasting a game in this monstrosity of an arena is quite an experience. It is a massive facility but beautiful. In fact both George and I agree, it is the furthest broadcast nest in the NHL, and we appreciated the minor officials sending us up a flare when ever a goal was scored….thanks guys.

The mood is somber throughout the plane as we wisk away tonight on Rankin Air (we named it on behalf of our own Jim Rankin, director of team services). A two hour flight will get us to Phoenix and prepared and ready for Sunday’s tilt with Wayne Gretzky and his Coyotes.

November 20, 2005
Disappointment Abound in Coyote Loss… Highlight Brule's First of Many!

Saturday in Phoenix was a day for the team to travel to the practice rink at 10:15am to get a little workout and skate out the cob webs from the late night coming back from Dallas. The team then returned to the hotel and spent time walking around the mall across the street from the hotel; catching the odd movie (the new Johnny Cash flick); sitting by the pool and chatting with teammates; and finally catching a good meal at Houston’s a nearby eating establishment. Some of the players also opted for room service and caught up on the needed sleep and the emotional strain of not winning lately.

Some of the group was fortunate to have friends and family in the area as they entertained lunches and dinners with their behalf. Cale Hulse was able to get to see his wife and 8 year old son for the day, and I personally broke away from the pack and bellied up to the confines of a local establishment to view the Ohio State Buckeyes pummel that school up North in football. Once a Buckeye always a Buckeye!! What a game and congratulations are in order to the Tressel staff for a job well done. Come to think of it, I never did hear from equipment manager Tim Leroy and his fullback Jamie Healey, two staunch supporters of Lloyd Carr and his Maze and Blue. It does not surprise me. I wonder if fellow OSU alumns Todd Sharrock and Chris Mizer heard from them either... I doubt it.

Sunday morning arrives early, and still being on EST, 6:30am is actually 8:30am in Ohio. A good workout under my belt, a trip to the Glendale Arena for the morning skate was in order. Knowing the Coyotes were not practicing, we were surprised to see Grant Fuhr, the Oiler goaltending coach out working injured goaltender Boucher for 45 minutes. I caught up with him at the conclusion of the practice and we sat down for a little a one on one for our pregame show. He loves the new NHL and admits it is like the game in the 80’s where statistics were for forwards and winning was for goaltenders. There was never a bad 8-7 win in his repertoire.

Knowing that the Coyotes played last night and won a thriller vs. the San Jose Sharks 4-3 in a shootout, it was thought that the weary travel and wobbly legs would produce a favorable outcome toward the forces of the CBJ tonight. But not the case, as the power play of Coyotes produced 2 goals on 9 opportunities and went on to trounce the Jackets 5-1, with a cast of individuals chipping in on the score sheet.

The lone tally came from rookie Gilbert Brule as he deposited a 50 foot blast past the Cornell product, Leneveu on the glove hand. It came at a critical time of the game when the score was 2-0 and it pulled the CBJ within one goal, and then the air from the balloon soon left the squad as Coyotes scored a minute later on a 55 foot blast under the right pad of Marc Denis. That was all the cushion on the score board the home team needed to extend its confidence and poise.

The CBJ crew is now aboard the plane and disappointment is prevalent amongst the cast of players, coaches and staff. There is two days before the Nashville Predators invade Nationwide Arena once again. Re-group and get ready for a battle and the chore will be to get the fans involved early. That will be on the docket for the Wednesday night tilt; don’t miss it! (I know George and I would love a Thanksgiving feast of Predator soup!)


Bill Davidge is the radio analyst on the Blue Jackets radio network, including Columbus based flagship stations WBNS AM 1460 and WWCD FM 101.1. Prior to joining the broadcast team, he spent the 1999-00 season as a scout for the Blue Jackets and from 1995-99 served as a part-time scout for the Florida Panthers. He assisted with the evaluation of players as a part-time scout for the Detroit Red Wings from 1990-94.
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