Bill Zito

Longtime agent Zito to join Jackets as assistant GM

The Columbus Blue Jackets are set to announce the hiring of longtime NHL agent Bill Zito for the role of assistant general manager, the Dispatch is reporting.

From the report:

Zito will head the Blue Jackets’ pro scouting department, and have a heavy hand in college scouting. He has represented NHL players such as Tim Thomas, Brian Rafalski, Sami Salo, Kimmo Timonen, Ville Leino, Valtteri Filppula, Tuukka Rask and John Madden, as well as current Blue Jackets defenseman James Wisniewski.

Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen first met Zito in 1995 at the IIHF World Championships in Stockholm, Sweden, when the two decided to merge their two fledgling agencies into one – Acme Sports.

Zito’s hiring will not affect longtime Blue Jackets assistant GM Chris MacFarland. He will continue to oversee the club’s American Hockey League affiliate in Springfield, Mass., and play a role in amateur scouting.

To make the move to the Jackets’ front office, Zito had to cut all ties with Acme. As you can see, he’s no longer featured on the agency’s website.

Update (1:09 p.m. ET): the club has confirmed the hiring.

“Bill Zito is an astute businessman who understands all facets of our game and will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Columbus Blue Jackets,” said Kekalainen in a release. “I have known Bill for many years and believe he will be a great addition to our hockey operations staff as we continue our efforts to build a championship-caliber team.”

Said Zito: “It is with sincere humility and appreciation that I have accepted this opportunity to work with John Davidson, Jarmo Kekalainen, Chris MacFarland and the Blue Jackets staff. I am excited and focused to begin this new journey.”

Related: Thomas explores options to make NHL return

Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

Niklas Kronwall
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When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

(His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

First, the Kronwalling:

Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky

Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.

To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:

The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)

That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:

They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.

Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

Jack Eichel
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The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.

You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.

That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:

Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan


Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?