After losing in a very poor effort against the Blues last night, the 29th place Jackets have sent seven players to the AHL affiliate in Syracuse. A demotion in anyone's book, the C-Bus GM Doug Mclean tried to put a bow on the crappiest present ever by saying that the youngsters were going down because the BJs don't play for a week and that'll keep them from getting rusty. Riiight. Because everyone knows that it's the youngsters that get rusty when they get time off. Not the old guys. No, old guys are excited just to be in the building and jump right in.
No, actually this is a message to the youngsters, especially Nik Zherdev and Dan Fritsche, that if they don't start playing like they are interested, they'll be riding buses for the next six months. The other guys that went down are minor league type players (what's a Motzko and how did you get it?) or guys who are between levels, like goalie Pascal Leclaire. The heir apparent to the Columbus crease, Leclaire has been too good in the AHL to keep down, but not quite good enough to be the starter in Ohio.
No, the message isn't for those guys. McLean is sending a message straight to Zherdev, and an oblique threat to Fritsche. Get your shit in one bag, or the good life becomes a dream again. For Fritsche, it's a quick reminder of life as a college hockey player. The parties are still pretty great and the ladies love the guy with the black eye, but riding buses to go play in falling down buildings flat out sucks.
For Zherdev, the message will be clearer, even through his translator Sasha: you are starting to suck. Wake-ov up-ov.
Zherdev has played for elite money/government teams in Russia and then the NHL club ever since he turned teenager. Riding buses and living in crappy motels and carrying your own gear is not something he has had to do since the days before pubes (BP). But I'll bet that if he comes back up next week when the Jackets play the Isles on Thursday and he looks as uninterested as he did against the Note yesterday, that kid is off to upstate New York later that night.
But back to my point. It's a sad state of affairs when your team becomes that team. The team that when you lose to them 4-1, the GM pulls his head out of his Tanqueray martini and says, "I might just lose my job if I don't do something."
Remember back in those heady days of the last NHL season, and every season before that, when the Blues would lose to a team like, say the Jackets? Everyone would be outraged the next day. "How did we lose to those minor leaguers. That team blows. If we can't beat them, then the coach just can't reach these players anymore!"
Great, now we're that team. Hell, even the freakin' Jackets consider us to be that team.
Sigh. I started a paper this year, why?