Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Jackets' July: "Oh, yeah!" "Oh, $#!+!" "Oh... Whew..."

It's the story of the Blue Jackets' July this year...

James Wisniewski was signed by lunchtime on Free Agency Day, completing the second major phase of Scott Howson's "Project: CBJ Re-Boot," and Jackets fans rejoiced. Howson had already acquired Jeff Carter via trade, so the Jackets finally had a top-line center and a top offensive defenseman, plus got some additional help on defense after rescuing Radek Martinek from the Island.

After an eternity of searching and a little trial-and-error on Howson's part -- and mostly error on his predecessor's part -- the Blue Jackets had all the pieces in place to kick off their second decade.

So, it seemed like a good time for me to take a break, and more importantly, give the Mrs. a break... because I dragged her through a long postseason with the Bruins' Cup run.

Plus... all was well in Blue Jackets Land....

Wait...

JUICE did WHAT?!?!?

The joy of the signings turned to mild horror with the news that Kristian Huselius tore a pectoral muscle while lifting weights. First of all... freakin' OUCH. Second of all, the feeling that hit me was much like when I saw that the Cleveland Browns' Peyton Hillis is on the cover of Madden 12, and is thus destined to end his season early in some horrible manner... a lot like "C'mon, we didn't need this bad news."

So, the Jackets stopped the bleeding by adding Vinny Prospal to replace Huselius. Not the first guy I thought of, but if he manages to stay healthy, we're looking at something really good.

For the record, the guy I would have targeted (provided he could have been acquired at a reasonable price) was Chris Drury... coincidentally, also a guy who missed significant time with the Rangers with a knee injury. Still, I think he could have been a help in the leadership department in the right environment... which New York clearly is not. If the Rangers were any good at developing team chemistry... well, they wouldn't be working on another Cup drought right now.

Yeah, they won the Brad Richards Lottery... rather, they paid the Brad Richards Lottery. Don't expect his name on the Cup anytime soon. It's the Rangers' usual M.O. -- pay out the wazoo for some coveted guy, and spend almost every April wondering what the hell went wrong. Hint: Outstanding individuals, but far from a good team.

Back to Prospal... like I said, if he stays healthy, life is good. The guy produced in the time he had, that's for sure. He's solid, and he's a veteran... which addresses some of that leadership stuff, too.

The only scary part of the situation is the fact that his $1.75 million salary has the Jackets' payroll flirting with $60 million, per CapGeek. No bones about it. That's a massive chunk of change for a team that lost a boatload of cash last year. But, you do what you have to when a crazy injury happens. It's a buck-75 they didn't want to spend, but Howson could have done a hell of a lot worse than Prospal.
What sucks about the offseason is that we have to wait two more months to find out.

However, you only have to wait a few weeks for some good old group puck therapy. In case you haven't heard yet -- though I'm sure you have by now -- esteemed CBJ Community member Dark Blue Jacket has announced there will be a 2nd Annual CannonFest on Sunday, August 14th, from 2-4 p.m.!

(Image courtesy of Dark Blue Jacket -- of course)

Food, drink, and of course, we'll be talking HOCKEY... without that silly, pesky 140-character limit we have on Twitter. So, mark your calendar, and bring you and yours to the BW3's in Grandview... and tell your friends.

That's it for now... all is apparently well in Blue Jackets Land.

Thanks for reading.

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