Tag: Alexandre Picard

Rick Nash

Did You Know? Rick Nash hasn’t had much help in Columbus


The “Did You Know?” series ties in the news of the day with some little-known hockey factoids and/or trivia. It’ll be fun. Trust me.

Sitting around with a friend the other day (fine, it was by myself) and the question came up: Is Rick Nash overrated? Is he at all responsible for Columbus’ years of ineptitude? Sure, he hasn’t had much to work with, but isn’t he supposed to be a superstar? He’s the captain, shouldn’t he be carrying the team? And hey, his complimentary pieces haven’t been that bad.

Have they?

What followed was a dizzying look back at failed drafts, questionable trades, coaching changes and misguided free agent acquisitions.

First, the history: Columbus came into existence in 2000. Two years later, Nash was taken first overall at the draft.

Since we’re on the subject of drafts, here’s Columbus’ record of first-round selections…

2000 — Rostislav Klesla (4th overall)
2001 — Pascal Leclaire (8th)
2002 — Nash (1st)
2003 — Nikolai Zherdev (4th)
2004 — Alexandre Picard (8th)
2005 — Gilbert Brule (6th)
2006 — Derick Brassard (6th)
2007 — Jakub Voracek (7th)
2008 — Nikita Filatov (6th)
2009 — John Moore (21st)
2010 — Ryan Johansen (4th)

That’s ten top-10 selections, three of which (Nash, Brassard, Johansen) are still with the team. Klesla and Brule are in Phoenix, Leclaire is an unrestricted free agent, Zherdev and Filatov are in the KHL, Picard’s with Norfolk and Voracek’s in Philly.

So that’s the (failed) draft component. Now let’s take a look at Nash’s running mates.

Since joining the Jackets, Nash has led the team in scoring five times. In the years he didn’t, the leading scorers were Ray Whitney and David Vyborny. In the years he did, the second-leading scorers were Vyborny, Zherdev, Kristian Huselius, Antoine Vermette and R.J. Umberger.

(In case you’re curious, CBJ’s leading scorers prior to Nash’s arrival were Whitney and Geoff Sanderson.)

What about the blueline?

Short answer: Yikes. The BJ defensemen during Nash’s tenure have been, how to put this…able to skate. If you were to make a list, and were very generous about it, the top six would probably be Klesla, Adam Foote, Jaroslav Spacek, Fedor Tyutin, Bryan Berard and Ron Hainsey. All-name team members Duvie Westcott and Grant Clitsome narrowly missed the cut.

What about the goalies?

Short answer: Ugh. The chronology of starting netminders during Nash’s time is Marc Denis, Leclaire, Fredrik Norrena, Leclaire again, Steve Mason, briefly Mathieu Garon, Mason again and finally, Curtis Sanford.


Short answer: A mess. Nash is 27 years old and a veteran of nine NHL seasons — during that time he’s had seven different head coaches in Dave King, Doug MacLean, Gerard Gallant, Gary Agnew, Ken Hitchcock, Claude Noel, Scott Arniel and now, Todd Richards.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Nash played with Sergei Fedorov and Fredrik Modin, both of whom won Stanley Cups…but both of whom joined the Blue Jackets well past their expiry dates. Fedorov came to Columbus at age 36 and played two uninspired seasons; Modin came over as a 32-year-old and, after scoring 22 goals in his first season, spent the next three years mostly injured.

So, the conclusion — overrated or not, Nash can’t blamed for how sad-sack a franchise Columbus has become. The BJs have shown levels of dysfunction normally reserved for Kardashians and/or Osbournes.

Crosby not only Penguin back from injury, Zbynek Michalek returns as well

Zbynek Michalek , Dominic Moore

Who knew the Penguins were going to be going fully healthy tonight? While Sidney Crosby is the biggest name returning to action, defenseman Zbynek Michalek is also making his triumphant return to action tonight as well.

Michalek has been out of action since the end of October with a broken finger. Clearly, the healing powers of Crosby got him back to health a bit sooner than expected so he can join the rest of the team in giving the Islanders a rude welcome to town. With Michalek rejoining his mates on the blue line, expect that Alexandre Picard takes a seat in the press box.

The Penguins having Michalek back should help strengthen what’s been a battered and beleaguered defensive corps. While we’ve seen other guys get over being hurt (Brooks Orpik), getting hurt (Ben Lovejoy, Michalek), others are having a tough time on the ice (Paul Martin). We’ll see how they can all put it together tonight against an Islanders team that’s having a tough time getting goals.

So what now for P.K. Subban and the Montreal Canadiens?

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A lot of times, a savvy coach will pick the right time to use a healthy scratch to motivate a player by making him watch a game from the press box. This is an especially useful tactic with young players, particularly ones who might lack some perspective after jumping quickly to the NHL level.

Yet when it comes to the Montreal Canadiens and their talented (but some might say difficult) rookie P.K. Subban, some wonder if that lecture is dragging on a bit too long.

Canadiens coach Jacques Martin decided to make Subban a healthy scratch for the last three games, which would seem stunning out of context. Of course, the reason that Martin isn’t crazy for his stance is pretty simple: the Habs won all three of those contests without Subban.

Still, at some point, Subban is going to return. After all, Montreal fans were clamoring for his presence during a power play in the team’s last game (chanting “Peekay Peekay” according to All Habs.net).

(That’s not to say Subban has been an offensive machine, though, as his one goal and eight assists for nine points in 25 games is far from world-beating.)

Rick Stephens of All Habs considers who might need to go to make room for Subban, noting that it wouldn’t necessarily need to be a “one-size fits all” solution.

It would be a mistake to view the spot in the line-up as a competition between [Yannick] Weber and Subban. Yet, some will insist. Martin has even compared situation to Carey Price and Jaroslav Halak last season.

Some will incorrectly view the result as a success. In truth, as conceived by Martin, it is an archaic, destructive method of coaching which inevitably produces a casualty. A more progressive mind should be able to produce a win-win environment.

Picard seems to be the odd man out. He has mostly played above expectations but still suffers coverage lapses and offers little when the Canadiens have the man advantage. While he has filled in admirably, Picard is the logical candidate to head to the press box.

It is also an opportunity for coach Martin to use the defensive depth to provide an occasional day off for his veteran defenders. If framed properly, it could be positive not punitive and would ensure that players like Jaroslav Spacek, Hal Gill and Roman Hamrlik are paced for the long season.

Stephens’ idea to occasionally spell Spacek, Gill and Hamrlik is especially interesting. The Canadiens have been hit hard by injuries at times on their blueline, particularly to seemingly doomed offensive defenseman Andrei Markov. Gill and Hamrlik bring a veteran presence that is even more valuable once the team enters the tighter checking playoffs, so the team might be wise to keep them as fresh as possible.

Subban is a promising young player, but the problem is that he’s also keenly aware of that promise. It’ll be interesting to see if the blue chip blueliner will react well to this attempted injection of humility … whenever he gets the chance to come back, that is.