Quotes of Note

Last week I attended a Q & A with Columbus Blue Jackets president Mike Priest, general manager Scott Howson and head coach Scott Arniel. I churned out a couple stories, one at InsideHockey.com and another for FireTheCannon.com, but there was a lot of great stuff that I wasn’t able to include. I’m sorry I’m just now getting some of these up but it was a busy week and weekend.

GM Scott Howson on the club resigning RW Jared Boll:

“Those arbitrations are a bit of a distasteful process anyways. It does allow you to get a contract with the player, but you do end up going in and fighting about things. And, particularly with a player like Jared, I wanted to avoid that scene.”

“He won’t take any punches at me but he fights for his teammates all the time and he lays his heart out here on the ice and sacrifices his body and I just didn’t think it was going to be a positive process to go through that with him.”

“Usually with these things you wait until the 11th hour but for some reason with this one we just got down to business pretty early and avoided even the exchange of written briefs.”

Howson on signing restricted free agents to offer sheets:

“With offer sheets, it’s a dangerous game. You have be sure that your offer sheet has a chance to succeed. Otherwise, you’re just driving up costs and we all end up paying for that in the end.”

“I think the San Jose offer sheet to [Blackhawks defenseman Niklas] Hjalmarsson was a good offer sheet because it was a team that was vulnerable to that type of offer because of the salary cap jail that they’re in.”

“We have talked about an offer sheet with another player, but we haven’t gone for it.”

Howson on UFA market and a potential deal for a defender

“We’re not going to be active in the free agent market. We weren’t on July 1 and we’re not going to be as we move forward here. Free agency is a dangerous thing, and I just don’t think our franchise is positioned at the right time.”

“Our prime goal is to try to maybe mix up the defense a little bit. There are a couple defensemen that are available for trade. We’re not close on anything. In my estimation there’s going to be five or six teams going for those two defenseman – or three defenseman, however many that are out there.”

“I can’t guarantee there’s going be a lot of changes. I believe in the younger players getting better.”

Howson on possible free agent tampering and early July 1 contracts:

“It is suspicious when Sergei Gonchar agrees to a deal at 12:02, but it’s really difficult to enforce tampering. The agents aren’t shy about letting you know who’s going to be a free agent and whether you’re interested in them or not.”

“We walk a very dangerous line and we try to make sure that we don’t do anything that would put us in jeopardy but, I don’t know if other teams tamper. I think it’s a real gray area.”

“I’m glad we’re in the NHL when you see in the NBA, you see these players three months before — while they’re still with their teams — talking about who they’re going to play with and how ‘we’re all going to get together and decide where we’re going to play.’ That’s pretty distasteful to me.”

“It’s one of the things that I admire about our players, that there is some integrity in a guy like Rick [Nash], who’s a really sincere person and committed to Columbus.”

Howson on the return of Russian winger Nikita Filatov:

“He’s training phenomenally hard. [Blue Jackets development coach] Tyler [Wright] is not easily impressed with people’s training habits and he went out and did all the things Nikita’s doing [like] running in the sand. They have a fairly primitive way sometimes training over there. They go into forests, they lift rocks, they run with rocks, they do squats with dumbbells and rocks, and Nikita’s working extremely hard.”

“He’s having some visa issues. We’re working on that.”

“He’s 187 pounds unless he fixed the scales.”

“We forget he was here as an 18-year-old, he’s only 20 now. He’s really just coming out of junior hockey.He’s got a lot of maturing to do and we’re trying to help him get there.”

Head coach Scott Arniel on player fitness:

“I actually apologized to [new strength and conditioning coach] Kevin Collins”

“What (players) can control is their conditioning and their work ethic, and those are two things I’m going to demand from them.”

“The last part of my conversation [with players over the phone], it’s what I’ve said, ‘come in September in the best possible shape,’ and you know what? It’s been a real good response.”

“To me that’s an area where if you want to play a tempo game, an up-paced game, you’ve got to be in great shape and it’s something that I want to have my thumb print on all the time.”

Arniel on D Mike Commodore’s offseason training:

“I had a great conversation with Mike and for the first five minutes I didn’t do very much talking.”

“Mike apologized to me and I hadn’t even coached him yet. He said he was very disappointed in himself, disappointed in his training and he wants to live up to the expectations.”

“We (the Buffalo Sabres) played against him in the Stanley Cup semifinals and he was a horse to play against. He’s got a Stanley Cup ring and I told him that I expect leadership from him. He has to recognize that he’s a guy that has to, first of all, come in great shape. He’s got to come in here with the attitude that he’s going to be a leader.”

“He swore to me he was going to be in the best shape of his life

On that note, here is an exchange I had with Commodre via Twitter:

bart_logan: @commie22 Last night Howson said the best thing for your offseason training was getting you out of LA ;) Thoughts?

commie22: @bart_logan he’s right. But not for the reasons ur thinking. I worked way harder and put way too much time in the gym doing the wrong things

commie22: @bart_logan I did way too much training last year and burnt myself out and got too heavy. Tried something new, didn’t work.

commie22: @bart_logan but because it was LA everyone assumed I did no training and partied all summer. Which couldn’t be farther from the truth

bart_logan: @commie22 I know just a little ribbing haha. What are you focusing on up in Kelowna? Getting any lines in the water on the days off?

commie22: @bart_logan I can take ribbing! Just focusing on staying like [sic] and explosive. If by lines in the water u mean fishing…no, not me, hate it

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