Thursday, December 29, 2011

Carter = Shanahan Part 2?

Please understand that I am writing this as a former fan of the Hartford Whalers.

The Jeff Carter-to-the-Blue Jackets situation has intrigued me from day 1.  You remember that day right?  That was the day that Carter pretty much barricaded himself in his home and refused to speak to anyone.  Speculation abound that he was not just unhappy he was traded by a Phliadelphia team to which he was signed to a long-term deal (and whose GM told him he wouldn't be traded), but unhappy that he was going to Columbus.

That speculation continues to this day.  Some fans will point out what they call "laziness" or "soft" shifts.   They wonder if Carter's attitude towards being a member of the woefully inept Columbus Blue Jackets, away from the bright lights of the big city night life, is reflected in his on-ice performance.  Coaches, the GM, and players would never say this were the case.  Carter himself would never admit this (at least he has not yet).  But for me, and some other fans, I have to wonder.

I've seen this situation before.  Before the 1995-1996 season, Brendan Shanahan was traded from the St. Louis Blues to the Hartford Whalers for young defenseman Chris Pronger.  Whalers fans were ecstatic.  Much like Blue Jackets fans were when they heard the news that all star Jeff Carter was on the way to Columbus.  This was the all star, goal scoring machine that was going to bring the Whalers to a level of respectability.

The Whalers, just like the current Blue Jackets', did not have the season they expected.  They did not make the playoffs.  It was yet another year of frustration for those who bled green.  Shanahan didn't say much during that losing season.  He went about his business, performed his duties as the team captain, scored his goals (44 to be exact), and represented the Whale as an all star that season.

Then the summer came around.  Shanahan decided he had had enough.  Small market Hartford, with its team of perennial losers, was not for him.  It was before the start of the 1996-1997 season that Brendan Shanahan requested a trade.

Shanahan played two more games for the Whale in the 1996-1997 season before his request was granted.  He was shipped off to Detroit for Keith Primeau and Paul Coffey.  Coffey HATED Hartford and requested a trade too, but that's a different story.

The point is that I can see Carter pulling a Brendan Shanahan.  We have no way of knowing if he is truly unhappy as a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets.  But there is a lot speculation that he is.  So let's just say for discussion's sake that this is true.  The Blue Jackets are going nowhere this year.  Their season is shot.  At this moment, there isn't any reason to bet on a huge turnaround next year.  The Blue Jackets don't exactly have a stellar playoff history.  Columbus has also yet to establish itself as a hockey hotbed draw for big name free agents (years of losing will cause that).

If he truly is unhappy, what's going to stop him from requesting a trade?  His contract is a desirable one (hey, we signed him).  He obviously has talent.  Carter could very easily, in my opinion, get his wish if he wants out.  I would think there'd be plenty of takers.  He could move on.

I would have loved to end this blog entry with this sentence: I hope he does not.  But I can't do that.  I'm still not quite sure how I feel about him as a member of the Blue Jackets.  He has talent, there's no doubt about that.  His shot is wicked.  I'm just not sure about his style and attitude and how those aspects of his game fit into the long term plans of the Jackets.  But then again, the Jackets seem to be clueless about their long term plans and identity right now anyway.  So who knows.

But I can definitely see the similarities between Brendan Shanahan circa 1995 and Jeff Carter 2011 and the teams/cities for which they play(ed).  If Carter does want out, I just hope his return value equals or exceeds what the Jackets paid to get him.  Please understand, I am not suggesting he DOES want out of Columbus.  I'm just saying if that ends up being the case, I won't be surprised.  I've seen it before.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Date or Jackets Game on TV?

My family recently moved to Troy, Ohio.  Since the move, our lives have mostly been devoted to unpacking boxes, fixing things we didn't know needed fixed, and basically just getting settled down.  But tonight my wife and I are going on a date.  The mom-in-law has graciously offered to watch our three kids and we're off to dinner and a movie.

What makes this occasion "blogworthy" is the fact that to go out with my wife, I am voluntarily missing a Blue Jackets game on TV.  Up until this year, I would have taken a rain check.  There would be no way in heck that I would miss watching that game on TV.  What's different about this year?  There's no need to watch because I already know the outcome.

Yes, I'm exaggerating, but I think my decision pretty much sums up what most Jackets fans are feeling right now.  That feeling is the lack of hope.  We feel like the season is lost.  We feel like the Jackets don't have a very good chance of winning games.  So why make watching their game a priority over something that could be done on any other night?  Why subject myself to the frustration?

So I'll go out tonight with my lovely wife.  I'll keep my fingers crossed and hope for a Jackets victory but I'm not going to expect one.  I'll enjoy a nice night out...and perhaps check in on the score from time to time.

Friday, November 4, 2011

8 Reasons to Start York

Here are eight reasons the Blue Jackets should start Allen York in goal against the Flyers 11/5/11.

8. If a roster change is not imminent, might as well make some changes from within. A simple change like a goalie change might even give you a spark.  

7. Give the kid some experience.  He in the NHL as a prospect in your system.  Might as well get him some more experience, even if he isn't considered your long-term solution.  Who cares if it's an away game?  Who cares if it's in Philly?  What's the worst thing that could happen?  A loss?  Mason can get those too.  

6. The players seem to have lost confidence in Mason.  Every player on that bench, although they'd never say it, knows Mason lost that game against Toronto almost single-handedly.  It seems reasonable to think that the players might actually play a better game themselves without Mason as their netminder.  

5. Maybe you catch lightning in a bottle.  Nobody expected Mason to come in two years ago and become a Calder winner just like that.  Yet he did.  It's possible, however unlikely, York will find a groove and play well.  Toronto's third string goaltender did just that.  

4. Perhaps Mason could benefit from some time riding the pine.  It will allow him to rest, mentally and physically, and watch the game from a different perspective...the backup goaltender's.

3. If York loses the game for the Jackets, that's just one step closer to a top 2 draft pick.

2. Mason needs to be punished for his performance against Toronto.  Why reward him with another start?  Does Arniel want him to "bounce back?"  If he hasn't bounced back after two years, he's not going to bounce back now.  Like any player, he needs to be held accountable for bad play.  Let him sit.  

1. The season is all but over.  Could it really do more harm than good?

Why the Blue Jackets Suck

After reading every article and watching nearly every game, I have determined the problem with the Columbus Blue Jackets. I know why they suck. I can sum up all their problems and reasons for failure with one simple word: me. Yes, I regret to inform you fellow Blue Jackets fans that I, Anthony, am solely responsible for this mess.

 Allow me to explain... I started following the NHL in 1985 when I was 9 years old growing up in Connecticut. I distinctly remember this because the Hartford Whalers had an improbable run in the playoffs (yes, it was only the second round, but still). I was enamored. The Whalers were the hometown team. They seemed to be a team on the rise. They took the Canadiens to 7 games in the second round and almost knocked them out. My parents were die-hard Ranger fans so I kind of had a split-allegiance, but I definitely liked the Whale.

 The next year, 1986, they were Adams Division champions. I went to their first playoff game and watched Paul MacDermiad (sp?) score the overtime winner against the Nordiques. Paul Lawless, Ron Francis, Dean Evason, Kevin Dineen, Mike Liut. I was hooked. No more split-allegiance. The Whalers were my team.

 It was almost like the instant I decided they were my favorite team, they went downhill. After going up 2-0 to the Nordiques, they lost the series 4-2. They never won another playoff series before they ceased to exist. In college, still a fan, I went through the Brendan Shanahan debacle and followed them right up until they left Hartford.

 Now living in Ohio, I tried to continue rooting for the now Carolina Hurricanes. It was difficult, but with Center Ice and the Internet, I managed. They had their moments in a weak Southeast Division, but they weren't great. Then there was an anomaly. They made an improbably run to the Stanley Cup finals. They lost, of course, but there was hope. This team was on the rise (much like the 85-86 Whalers). Nope. The wheels came off the next year and they were right back to mediocrity.

 I stuck with them for a while, but there was this other team I started watching on TV. They were still one of the new kids on the block in the NHL. They were young. They worked hard. They were fun to watch. They never seemed to give up even though clearly inferior. The crowds watching them were, to quote Jeff Rimer, ELECTRIC! Plus they were the hometown team. They were the Columbus Blue Jackets. I began watching the Jackets regularly. Like my early days as a Whalers fan, I was enamored. Plus the team had several former Whalers: Sanderson, Dineen, Kron, Kucera, and Cassels. Something told me it was time to switch my allegiance. I decided that I was no longer a Hurricanes fan. I was a Columbus Blue Jackets fan.

 Within the next two years, as if a monkey had been removed from their backs, the Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup. It was like they were suddenly able to compete now that they were no longer my favorite team. It was like a kick in the groin to see them hoist the Cup. I stop liking them and suddenly they are Stanley Cup champions??? They couldn't have done this a few years ago? Nope. I guess it would be too much to ask to experience the jubilation of having my favorite team win the Stanley Cup.

 But at least I had the hometown Jackets to watch. They were young. They had the top stadium experience in the country. Surely they would turn things around and become a winner!

 But of course, it was almost like they were doomed the moment I decided to make them my favorite team. Sure they had that one playoff appearance, but there is absolutely nobody in this world who could consider them a success story at this point. What has prevented them from becoming a success? What is the one constant? Me.

 Think about it. In 26 years of being a die-hard hockey fan, I have never been able to say that my favorite team was a winning team. Yes, I've had my moments, bu they have been few and far in between. 26 years is a long time to go without watching my favorite team succeed. I can only imagine what Cubs fans go through . And I know I'm being overly superstitious, but I can't help but think my bad luck has somehow rubbed off on my favorite teams. Sorry Jackets fans. Blame me. If you know of anything I could do to break this curse, you just tell me and I'll do it. I'll try anything. Well, almost anything.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

House Selling Nightmare

Many people have asked me about how the process of selling our house has gone. In one word: horrible. But if you want to know more about how unlucky we've been, read on...

I'll start off with the worst part. We had a couple visit our home three times. After the second time, they called us on the phone to tell us they wanted to buy our house. They just had to wait until the closing on their house (which was about two weeks away). Then we could expect an offer. On the phone, the guy elaborated about how no other house they saw compared to ours. He explained that the house reminded his wife of the one she grew up in and how she didn't even want to go to any other open houses. This was the house for them.

During the third visit, we overheard them talking about where they were going to put furniture. They asked for and were provided with a blank offer sheet. My wife and I thought it was as close to a done deal as could possibly be. We cautiously, yet optimisticly, told family and friends that we thought we were about to sell our home.

But they never contacted us after their closing. After a few weeks, we called them to find out what was going on (although we pretty much knew we were screwed). They didn't respond to our voicemail. A week later, we called again. This time, we got a response. We were told that they were now trying to decide between our house and another. Hmmm...suddenly they were interested in another home too. It felt like the kiss of death.

In a last ditch effort, we called them back and left another voicemail. This time offering to lower our asking price by $12,000 if that would help them make their decision.

That was a month ago. We never heard from them again. That has been the worst part of this process. But that was just one morsel in a smorgasboard of crap.

Because we were trying to avoid the absurd commission required to pay a realtor, we have been trying to sell our house on our own. We've had guests just about every week (I'll tell you about one particular week without any visitors later). We've busted our butts to get this house in tip-top condition. And it has been. I feel like we've acted like drill seargants with our kids. We've been very strict about keeping things clean and putting toys away. They haven't even been able to use their Christmas present (a trampoline). We keep telling them that we'll set it up at the new house. I feel like they are suffering because of our efforts to sell our home.

So by not involving a realtor, we were immediately putting ourselves at a disadvantage. But we needed that money we were saving for a down payment on a new house. So we just needed a little luck. We thought we had some with the family mentioned above. Obviously not. It seems like bad luck loves us.

We spent hundreds of dollars to use a site called We listed our house on their site and I'm not sure if we've had any visitors because of that listing. We also created our own web site (linked to our listing) with dozens of photos and a video tour. We put a lot of time and effort into that site and again, I'm not sure how many people actually saw it. Plus, will list your house on the MLS which we really wanted to do. But of course Richmond is in the 10% of Indiana that is not able to be listed by So our exposure was very limited.

We spent hundreds of dollars on a newspaper listing for our Open Houses. During those weeks we had a grand total of (I think) two visitors. Both indicated that they didn't even see our listing in the paper. Hundreds of dollars down the drain.

We've had several of our FOR SALE and OPEN HOUSE signs stolen. Stupid kids? Realtors? Who knows. But one week we didn't get a single visitor to our open house. When I went to retrieve our signs (advertising and directing passers-by to our Open House) they were gone. No wonder nobody showed up. Somebody decided to steal the signs that advertised our Open House. What bugs me most about this is that our address was on the signs. It wasn't like they could be re-used. It was done out of pure mischief/meanness.

We even tried placing an ad in Craig's List. Didn't expect much to come from that, but it couldn't hurt, right? Well apparently with Craig's List, anyone can determine that an ad is offensive and have it removed. We tried posting an ad several times. But it kept getting removed within hours of posting. Someone no doubt with a competing house for sale.

We've had at least four realtors contact us and try to convince us to list with them. Most of them claiming to already have a potential buyer for us. The latest, one from Indianapolis (over an hour away), indicated he had almost a sure bet. We kindly offered him a 3% commission if he would send them our way. For whatever reason, he refused...even though he would receive a 3% commission anyway if we listed with an agent and his prospective buyers purchased our house. What's the difference? We just think he was full of crap and didn't have a prospective buyer to begin with.

I'm not a deeply religious guy, but we have buried a statue of St. Joseph in front of our house. So many people have told us that it works like a charm. Well, it didn't work for us with our last house and it hasn't worked so far here. We've said the "Novena" prayer too(for those of you who don't know, it's a 9-day prayer that's supposed to help with the sale of a home). I've also been saying my own prayers. In my prayers I've stated that I don't deserve the good fortune of our house selling...but my wife and kids do. I want the Lord to come through for us, even if it's only for a better life for them. That's the main reason I want to move: to make a better life for my wife and children. That's the bottom line. I don't want them to be punished because I haven't been the best human being I can be.

I've visited the grave of my father-in-law several times and asked him for help. I've even prayed to my recently deceased grandfathers, asking for any assistance they can provide. Surely they would want what's best for their grandson and his family. I'm not sure if they have any influence over what occurs in my life, but I thought it couldn't hurt to ask. I like to think that they are watching over us.

We've even done silly things. For some reason, my youngest son thinks that his rear end is lucky. So he has rubbed his butt on our FOR SALE and OPEN HOUSE signs. It hasn't yielded any significant results, but it at least provided us with some much-needed laughs.

Now my wife is doing the Feng Shui thing on our house. I really don't believe in that stuff but it can't hurt right?

I've asked everyone I know to keep us in their thoughts and prayers. When school was still in session, I even told my students and their parents about our predicament. One girl told me that she had been praying for my family. Isn't that sweet? There are even 10-year old kids and their families sending positive thoughts our way and praying for us.

We thought of another option. We are selling another home on land contract (our first home in Ohio that, surprise, wouldn't sell outright). After some phone calls to our bank, we found a way to have that famly buy the home outright, eliminating the need for the land contract. Then, we could use a property management company to rent this home. It wouldn't be that different of a situation as we are in now. Well, that family was very interested in this idea. It required no down payment and no closing costs. They just had to "pass" a credit check. It's been a few days and we haven't heard back from them. I guess we can't be lucky enough for them to have good enough credit either.

And now, after all our hard work and determination to avoid paying a realtor's full commission, we have decided that it is now come to that. So we've called an agent who we've spoken to a few times previously. But would you believe it...two phone calls and one email over the last two days and she has yet to get in touch with us. Now suddenly even realtors don't want to help us out. Sure, we can easily call another agent, but we kind of liked this one.

I honestly, truly feel like we have done EVERYTHING we possibly could to sell this house. Nothing has worked. We need some luck and unfortunately can't find any. My wife and I are incredibly stressed out. This situation has created a lot of tension between us. It's not like we're arguing all the time or anything, but the sale of this house is always on our minds and has negatively affected our marriage.

I know this is not the right word to use because it sounds childish, but it really feels like this is unfair. We've tried everything. We couldn't sell our last house. Aren't we due for some luck with this one? It's bad enough we can't sell our house, but then we have to get teased by that family who said they wanted to buy it? It really feels unfair. When I complain about my luck, some people say that I am lucky to be married with three beautiful, healthy children. Yes, I am lucky to have that. But trust me, there are PLENTY of people in this world that are married and have beautiful, healthy children...and they have much better luck than me.

To conclude, there are so many people in this world that have it worse than us. I am thankful for my family, my job, and the fact that I even have a house to live in. There are so many people in this world that need your thoughts and prayers more than I do. But after thinking about them and praying for them, if you could take a few extra seconds to do the same for my family and our situation, I'd greatly appreciate it.

EDIT (6/17/11). Just to follow up, the realtor did end up calling us back. Of course (what a suprise, more bad luck), she never got our first message or our email because she was out of the office. She finally got the third message when I called her cell phone. So we are now listed with a realtor. Who is going to be the hero? Who is going to come through for us? God? St. Joseph? Our newly hired realtor? Or (gasp) nobody. Time will tell but we don't have that much time. We need to be moved by the end of the summer so my kids can start school in Troy.

EDIT (6/18/11) Something I forgot to mention regarding that family who said they wanted to buy our house. About a week ago, being without an email address to contact them, I searched for and found them on Facebook. I decided to email both the husband and the wife. It couldn't hurt, right? I was VERY polite. I apologized for contacting them on Facebook and explained that I was only doing so because I didn't want to put them on the spot with a phone call and did not have their email address. I simply asked them to let us know whether we were "still in the running." I explained that even if they were no longer interested in our house, we would just like to know for sure. I sent the message and became kind of a Facebook stalker. The husband did not have his profile set to "private." So I checked in once in a while to see if he posted "We bought a new house today!" or something like that. I didn't see a status update like that, but since I sent my email message, I did notice that he became friends with someone. That means he received my message but has chosen not to respond. That just screams out jerk to me. If you want me to screw off, fine. Just have the courtesy to tell me.

EDIT (6/22/11) Well, that guy finally returned my email. He informed me that they had an offer accepted on another house. What a huge surprise. He also felt the need to comment that the inspection process was a "headache." You want to know what's a headache? Being told to expect an offer on your house and then have it COMPLETELY backfire. That's a headache. He also told me that we had a great house and that he was sure it would sell soon. You know how many people have told me that? Too many. I certainly didn't need him, of all people, to tell me that too. I did not appreciate his comments (although I'm sure they were made without malicious intent), but I was polite and thanked him for letting me know what was going on.

So. The smallest ray of hope to which I was clinging is now completely gone. Deep down, I really thought they would buy our house. I thought the lack of communication might have been a bargaining strategy of some sort. I was dead wrong. That's what I get for being optimistic I guess. Back to the drawing board.