Knockoff Neale's Notes: Hiller In, Fowler Still Not Skating and Blue Jackets Talk

Jeff Gross

Don't worry, Jen will be back tomorrow. For now here are my notes leading up to the Columbus game tonight and a quick talk with Dan Parker of The Cannon.

It looks like Bruce Boudreau has caught a little bit of the Randy Carlyle disease, keeping his lips sealed about his goalies.

And according to the great Eric Stephens, that is tonight:

Kristen and I talked about it briefly on the podcast, where I said it was a no brainer to put Fasth in tonight considering how well he's played and that this one extra day off for Hiller affords him a whole week of additional recovery time. But I can't blame Hiller for wanting to get back in ASAP, just to remind us that he's still there while we fawn over, Second star of the week, Viktor Fasth.

In other injury news, last week Boudreau said he hoped to have Cam Fowler on the ice today. That wasn't the case, but it sounds like he's on the right track. Here's the latest via Twitter.

And quotes from Fowler via Stephens, in which he does not blame Jarret Stoll for the hit that caused his "upper body injury" (Come on guys, just admit it's a concussion!)

Also from Stephens, here are your line rushes, the only shake-up among skaters being Nick Bonino at 2C and Peter Holland down with the fourth line. It does appear that the Jackets will be getting Artem Anisimov and James Wisniewski back though, to try and spring the trap on the Ducks.

And here's a little more detail on those updates and Patrick Maroon's big night in Nashville from the Ducks Morning Report.

Now that we're all up to date, I'll toss it over to Dan Parker of The Cannon for a little Q&A. Big thanks to Dan for this and go check out their game coverage including his three questions for little old me.

Chris: Rapid fire front office questions: Was Scott Howson better or worse than Doug MacLean? How excited are you for the John Davidson Era? (I loved the stuff he did in St. Louis) If Brian Burke was willing to take the job in Columbus (before Jarmo Kekalainen was hired) would you have welcomed him? Besides his awesome name, what are you most looking forward to about Kekalainen?

Dan: Re: Howson vs. MacLean, well, that's like asking which gaping wound on your head is worse. I think most fans would give the nod to Howson, simply because he drafted moderately better in the lower rounds, and he at least made some moves in 2008-2009 that got the club into the playoffs. MacLean's legacy was tricking Florida into letting him draft Rick Nash in 2002. Howson was generally better at the trades he made on the margins--his moves in 2008 and 2009 put the Jackets on the road to the playoffs, with a nod to Steve Mason pulling the Calder Trophy out of his ass--but it's the last three big trades for which he'll be remembered: Carter, Carter, and Nash. Those three trades are emblematic of his overall failure to put a good team on the ice.

Re: Davidson, everyone is over the moon about his arrival. Finally, there's a voice at the top of the organization that really *gets* it, and seems to have a plan. His ability to quantify what it is that he wants--especially to the fan base--has been a God-send. Time will tell if he--and Kekalainen--can actually have the success here that they had in St. Louis toward the end. It's important to remember that St. Louis missed the playoffs in four of JD's six years as president.

As for me, I wasn't sold on Brian Burke. I just couldn't see him fitting in in our market and with our front office already in place. I think what we're all looking forward to the most about Jarmo is his reported relentless work ethic when it comes to scouting and the draft. With three first round picks, and possibly four in the top 30 if we finish last again, in a deep draft, this could be the make-or-break year for the rebuild. It's nice to have a guy who's had success in the draft for roughly a decade.


Chris: Jack Johnson was considered the future of the Kings’ defense early on, but they seemed to sour on him pretty quickly. What stage are you at with him and how much are your opinions on JMFJ colored by the relief of getting Jeff Carter the hell out of your dressing room?

Dan: Obviously, the way the season finished last year for Columbus, getting rid of Carter was absolutely addition-by-subtraction. Johnson was actually a plus-player over those last 18 games, in which the Jackets had a winning record. That said, he's showing to be the player everyone said he was when he came over: plus-offense, suspect defense, but great in the dressing room. So, in that respect, he's helping this club accomplish their first goal, which is to change their culture of spineless acceptance of being crappy. That said, I think we're starting to see that his defensive reputation wasn't just a result of "the Kings asking him to play outside himself." He's been at or near the bottom for +/- on the Jackets all year. Time will tell if they can build a club around him--namely in goal--that will mask some of that.

Chris: James Wisniewski seemed to be in a contract dispute every summer before turning UFA. He was moved to Anaheim because of a dispute with Chicago, signed a one year contract then went to arbitration the next summer and was immediately moved to the Islanders. How do you feel he’s lived up to the $5.5 million cap hit that he always thought he deserved?

Dan: Well, I'm of the opinion that you have to overpay for free agents in the NHL--especially when you're Columbus. They had to pay through the nose to get a mid-level free agent to consider Columbus. By most accounts, he's another guy who's great in the dressing room, and so that is some of the value for that contract. He's not the best defender, but that's not why he was brought here. He's a career 0.47 points-per-game player, and since he's been here he's actually been at 0.56, with 9-24-33 in 59 games, which is some of the best offensive numbers we've ever had from the blue line. But, those 59 games are out of a possible 97, so if he can't stay on the ice full-time, the team certainly isn't getting what they're paying for.

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