December 11, 2011

Blue Jackets and Wild - A Tale of Two Cities - Doormats versus Champs

Parity is the name of the game in the new NHL.  Most teams got that memo and acted accordingly.  Two teams however were left off the list for the parity memo.  The Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild are  glowing examples that parity doesn't exist for everyone.

Columbus has been solidly at the bottom of the league all year.  Injuries and suspensions put these guys behind the eight ball from the get go and they never recovered.  The breakout year that never was has become an issue for the Blue Jackets.  Additions like Jeff Carter and James Wisniewski were supposed to make the team a competitor but mismanagement and bad luck have turned that plan on its head.  This has exposed Columbus' lack of depth.  When the injury bug hits or suspensions become an issue; there should be guys on the bench to pick up the slack.  Excuses are for recreational leagues and not the NHL.   The big question is why management has not taken steps to shake things up.  Respect for the fans is reflected in the product on the ice.  The talent is there in Columbus; coaching and vision are missing.  It will be interesting to see how the Blue Jackets rebound from this year. The first step in our book is a coaching or management change.

The Wild are the exact opposite of the Blue Jackets.  The obvious difference is their position in the standings but the real fundamental difference is the operational focus on a sound organization with real hockey men behind the scenes.  Head coach, Mike Yeo is the principal reason for the success of the Minnesota Wild.  The new coach has got the troops balanced and performing on cue.  The Wild are a mix of veterans and rookies and they find  a way to win even when it looks like they should be losing.  The rookies on the Wild played for Yeo in the minors and that continuity at the NHL level has paid off in spades for the big club.  Josh Harding and Dany Heatley are just two of the standouts for Minnesota.  When Josh Harding went down; Matt Hackett stepped in.  That's depth and team play.   It will be interesting to see how far the Wild can go with this year's addition.  We suspect you will see more fireworks from this group of players.  Confidence has a way of building and the only way these guys will come down the ranks is if they hit a supersized wall of injuries.

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