What to think?

cbjlogonew.jpgI avoided posting during the few days of craziness, in the hopes of avoiding over- or under-reacting to anything shocking that might have happened.

The drama started last weekend, when Duvie was put on waivers. I guess we saw this coming. Great attitude, but he never really reclaimed his status after the 2006 injury, so with the young ones of the future making waves behind and around him, this wasn’t much of a surprise.

Then Zhil-Bayer was handed his hat to make room for Rafael Torres, who’s only got one good ACL working. As long as he can get back to 100%, I get the sense that most feel this is an overall positive move.

Speaking of positive moves, Howson snagged Mike Commodore. We were hoping for a more offensive blueliner, but at least the club has spackled the hole left by Adam Foote.

…and then… just wow. At the risk of using an inappropriate metaphor, what the heck – this came out of freakin’ left field. The one thing the club desperately needs is goal scorers, and what a shock to see Nik – the #2 scorer last season – get shown the door. The fact that the team invested in him through the drama of the past couple of years seemed to indicate they were willing to be patient – I, personally, expected one more year before they cut strings. If you’ve read this site, you know I like Zherdev, and the cynic in me says that we are going to watch him grow into a talented veteran, but wearing another team’s sweater. Losing Fritsche was painful, too. He was a fan favorite for a reason. I can’t put my finger on it, but his impact was noticeable even if his stats weren’t; he played with energy and self-sacrifice.

Yeah, Huselius, that should help, but we wanted someone who could put up good numbers alongside people like Zherdev, not ‘in place of.’ We’ll see.

What we know now is that the club appears to be stacked with solid defensemen. There is still a hole left at center, and sadly, there are no notable top-notch centers left. Reports are indicating that Peca is being courted again, and that may help a little, but I can’t help wondering if this was part of the plan all along, or if something big was supposed to happen after Zherdev/Fritsche, but it fell through and Peca is Plan B.

Either way, my overall feeling on these moves is a bit melancholy. I guess a silver lining would be to consider an old hypothesis – that Columbus’s mediocrity has always been due to some form of self-fulfilling prophecy. Talent was never an issue, development and consistency were. Now that the team is so radically different than what it was just two years ago, perhaps it’s possible that this team will form a different overall attitude, and maybe won’t have the black cloud of lowered expectation following it around.

At least in the meantime, the Jackets have something they’ve never really had before – some commodities. If and when further adjustments are needed over the upcoming seasons, the team will actually have quite a few players that other teams may want or need. If they can’t land a franchise center this year, perhaps they’re setting themselves up to be in a better position to land that dream center next year.

And with that, I’ll bid a fond farewell to Nikolai Zherdev, with my favorite memory from his tenure here:

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