Colorado Avalanche v Columbus Blue Jackets

Report: Blue Jackets lost $25 million last season, $80 million over six years


The NHL has been a bit busy lately with handling things with the Phoenix Coyotes and their fight to stay in Glendale as well as keeping an eye on things with the Atlanta Thrashers and their ownership boondoggle but those two teams aren’t the only ones with major problems.

Another recent expansion team that’s having money woes are the Columbus Blue Jackets. Generally when fans start thinking of expansion teams that have a hard time fitting in and making money, they turn to the Coyotes, Thrashers, and Florida Panthers but the Blue Jackets are a different kind of mess unto themselves. In their ten years in the league, they’ve made the playoffs just once getting swept out in the first round by rival Detroit in 2008.

With that history of not winning in a new place it shouldn’t be a big surprise that the Blue Jackets are still losing money and it’s only getting worse. According to NHL sources, Columbus lost $25 million last season, a $14 million increase in losses from the previous season. The team has lost a total of $80 million since the 2004-2005 lockout.

The Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline has some reasons why the team has bled money.

There are four main reasons for the sharp increase in losses: rising player salaries, plummeting attendance, a 25 percent cut in the Blue Jackets’ revenue sharing check, and the ongoing (endless?) lease agreement issues between the Blue Jackets and Nationwide Arena.

Sounds like a familiar recipe for a team to be relocated. In this case, the Blue Jackets are under no serious threat to be moved. Owner John P. McConnell is doing his part to try to keep things straight in Columbus. The one solution to try and fix things there though is simple: Win.

Columbus making the playoffs just once in team history with other seasons being mostly miserable ones with no hope, the shine is off the team for being something new and fun. Now it’s time for results and unfortunately after years of poor management and personnel decisions it takes time to get things fixed up.

Rick Nash is the team’s one marketable superstar and while there’s some solid talent otherwise in Jakub Voracek and Derick Brassard, there’s not a whole lot else going on here. That much has proven to be true considering where the Jackets finished in the standings. The losses are staggering for the franchise but yet the answer to fixing it all up seems so simple. As if teams didn’t need more motivation to figure out the best ways to put a winner on the ice, they could look at the how things have gone financially for Columbus and realize that it makes all the difference.

While the NHL is going to worry about how to get things right with the Coyotes and Thrashers first, they’ll have to keep a stray eye on what the Blue Jackets are doing. Having a franchise, a new one especially, hemorrhage money like that is not good for the league and it’s push into new markets.  It certainly doesn’t help make the case for future expansion easier to make.

DiMaio named Blues’ director of player personnel

via St. Louis Blues
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The St. Louis Blues named Rob DiMaio their director of player personnel on Tuesday.

He’s been with the organization for some time. He joined as a pro scout in 2008 and was the pro scouting director starting in August 2012.

He was also a scout for the Dallas Stars before landing with the Blues (one would assume his biggest connection is GM Doug Armstrong, then).

In case his nose didn’t give it away, he also enjoyed a lengthy hockey career over 19 seasons.

No doubt about it, this is a pivotal season for the Blues after multiple campaigns in which strong regular seasons dissolved into playoff disappointments. Perhaps DiMaio can make a difference in a heightened role?

Hitchcock going to more aggressive attack for Blues

Ken Hitchcock

ST. LOUIS (AP) After three straight first-round playoff exits, the St. Louis Blues have learned to temper expectations.

They have been consistently among the NHL’s best in the regular season and realize it is past time to build something for the long haul. The sting still lingers from the latest failure, against the Minnesota Wild last spring.

“We’re all disappointed, everybody can agree on that,” defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. “It’s never easy to kind of think about your failures, but we grow every time it happens.”

Management isn’t ready to tear it all down yet.

“We play, in my opinion, one of the toughest if not the toughest division in the NHL, and we’ve finished first or second in the last four years,” forward Alexander Steen said. “So we have an extremely powerful team.”

Maybe a change in strategy will be enough: Coach Ken Hitchcock is back with a mandate for a more aggressive, even reckless, style of play from a roster that hasn’t changed appreciably.

“We’re coming hard from the back and we’re coming hard to see how close we can get to the attack,” Hitchcock said. “I think it’s where the game’s at; I think it’s where the game’s going to go.”

The 63-year-old Hitchcock is pushing forward, too, unwilling to dwell on the flameouts. Coach and players agree that would be “wasted energy.”

“My opinion is when you sit and think about the past, you do yourself no good,” Hitchcock said. “If you learn from the past, that’s when you do yourself a whole bunch of good.”

There were only two major roster casualties. Forward Troy Brouwer came from Washington in a trade for fan favorite T.J. Oshie. Defenseman Barret Jackman, the franchise career leader in games, wasn’t re-signed.

“If you were expecting 23 new faces to be on the roster this year, I don’t think that was realistic,” captain David Backes said. “We’re going to miss those guys in the room and on the ice, but there has been some changeover and I think it’s pretty significant.”

Things to watch for with the Blues:

GOALIE SHUFFLE: Just like last year, there’s no true No. 1 with Brian Elliott and Jake Allen sharing duties. The 25-year-old Allen missed a chance to seize the job last spring when he failed to raise his level in the playoffs.

TOP THREAT: Vladimir Tarasenko had a breakout season with 37 goals and was rewarded with an eight-year, $60 million contract. The 23-year-old winger is by far the Blues’ most dangerous scoring option and said he won’t let the money affect his play. “I never worry about it,” Tarasenko said. “If you play good, you play good.”

NEW FACES: Brouwer and center Kyle Brodziak add a physical element that was perhaps lacking a bit last season. Brouwer has three 20-plus goal seasons and Brodziak, acquired from Minnesota, fills a checking role. Veteran forward Scottie Upshall got a one-year, two-way deal after being coming to camp as a tryout. Rookie forward Robby Fabbri, a first-round pick last year, will get an early look. Another promising youngster, forward Ty Rattie, begins the year at Chicago of the AHL.

RECOVERY WARD: Forward Jori Lehteri bounced back quickly from ankle surgery and opens the season without restrictions. Another forward, Patrik Berglund, could miss half of the season following shoulder surgery.

TRACK RECORD: The Blues won the Central Division last season and Hitchcock, fourth on the career list with 708 regular-season wins, has consistently had the team near the top of the standings. “He is our coach, tough cookies if you don’t like it,” Backes said. “From my experience, he puts together one heck of a game plan.”