Tuesday, October 04, 2005


Gilbert Brule gets his Blue Jacket

Some incredibly bittersweet news for us in Vancouver as Giants star Gilbert Brule has signed a 3-year contract with the Columbus Dinner Jackets.

You know I think he's going to be better than everyone else drafted this past summer except maybe "Darryl" Crosby, but I surely didn't expect him to make such an impact this quickly.

I wish Brule all the success in the world (and maybe I should have a Brule Monitor as well), but I wanted him to begin his NHL career, NEXT YEAR! Us Giants fans wanted Brule back for at least one more season, for obvious reasons.

The Columbus Blue Jackets signed center Gilbert Brule (pronounced jihl-BAIR BROO-lay), the sixth overall pick in the 2005 National Hockey League Entry Draft, to a three-year contract, club President and General Manager Doug MacLean announced today. Brule will begin the season on the Blue Jackets 23-man roster.

"Gilbert is a talented young player who worked really hard and played extremely well for us during the preseason, and I'm very happy for him and for our organization that we were able to get this deal done," said MacLean. "He earned a spot on our roster and will be a tremendous compliment to the young talent in our organization."

Brule appeared in six preseason games with the Blue Jackets and led the team in scoring with two goals and three assists for five points, along with six penalty minutes. He tallied 39-48-87 and 169 penalty minutes in 70 games with the Vancouver Giants in 2004-05, finishing fifth in the Western Hockey League in goals and third in points. He was named to the WHL First All-Star Team and was the 2004-05 Canadian Hockey League Scholastic Player of the Year.

"It has been a lifelong dream to play in the NHL, and I am so happy this day has come and I'm a Blue Jacket," said Brule. "I'm going to work hard and hopefully I will play here all year and do whatever I can to help this team continue to improve and win games."

You can also see a video interview of Brule here.

Now, let me get on my rant box here for a moment.
(On a side note, how can they give nice pronunciation for Brule's name and then totally butcher Balastik?)


Doug McLean, I know you have a pretty spotty record of management during your tenure as the Jackets GM, so it doesn't surprise me that you would think so 'short-term' and fail to see the big picture. Between the two of you and Kevin Lowe, you wouldn't have enough business management skills to run a successful lemonade stand.

Don't you realize that Gilbert Brule, if he stays as a pro with your team, will be an Unrestricted Free Agent at the age of 25? Therefore, you will miss his age 26 and 27 years when he is at his theoretical absolute peak.

18 year-old players, unless they are rare and special talents like Sidney Crosby or Eric Lindros, do not make a positive impact to your roster. You do have cheaper and more NHL-ready players on the farm that could fill in for Brule while he plays 20+ minutes a night in the CHL instead of rotting on the end of the bench. What good is it to Brule to have him play 6-7 minutes when he starts struggling with the wear and the tear of the NHL? Did you not see how rushing prospects can hurt them for good? Ask Manny Malhotra just how being rushed to the NHL hurt his career and development.


I am selfishly hoping that the Jackets keep Brule on the pro roster for just 10 games, then send him back to the Giants (because they can) so that we can enjoy his play and his talent for one more season. The Giants won't nearly be the same without him.

Still, I am not pulling for Brule to fail and he is one of my absolute favourite players. I will enjoy watching and following the Jackets this year as both Jaroslav Balastik and Brule will be starting out their NHL careers at the same time.


In other Jackets news, it seems goalie Tomas Pöpperle has been sent back to Sparta Prague rather than go to the AHL.

Why does this mean anything? Well, Sparta's current backup is none other than Marek Schwarz. Now Sparta has a goalie logjam, which means one of Pöpperle or Schwarz will have to go elsewhere. Since Popperle should be a #1 goalie somewhere this year, I have a feeling he may be loaned or sold to another European club or traded for defensive help (Since Sparta really needs it). I'm a bit surprised Pöpperle didn't get sent to the AHL, since it is the next logical step for him.

Popperle and his agent stated before going to camp, that he will return to Europe when he wouldnt get no1 position in AHL. And it is obvious, that Blue Jackets will prefer Pascal Leclaire, who is much more ready for being a backup next season (Prusek just sucks). So it is more helpful for Popperle to come back and develop here. He was about to start for HC Vsetin before season, but Vsetin acquired Finnish goalie Sasu Hovi and it seems to be a real shot for them, so there is a no need for Popperle in Vsetin (they just need 4 defencemen and 6 forwards:) I expect him coming on short loan to Ceske Budejovice (because Turek is still out with injury), or going to Sweden or Finland for the whole season.
Jes, your buddy Andrej Meszeros just made the Sens. He will be on the 3rd pairing with Brian Pothier. He was impressive in camp. I would rather have him log minutes in the AHL though.
It's nice to see some Blue Jacket love - no matter how passive aggresive it may be. You turned me on to Balastik and Brule has grown on me over the last few exhibitions. I'm excited about the potential here in Columbus. Right now though, I'm scared about what this season is going to be. It all depends on our defense. I have a feeling it is going to be great youth, steady goaltending but horrid defense.
Unless Brule continues to it up, he will likely be sent back after the 10 games. I think MacLean and the Blue Jackets are desperate enough for some success now that they want to see if he can keep up the hot streak he's had in preseason.

I bet you see him back with the Giants in a month.
The mean career expectancy of an NHL general manager has got to be a lot less than 7 years. Coaches' tenures are even shorter!

Given those facts, it's hardly surprising that teams are tempted to put promising 18, or 19 or 20 year olds on the big club's roster despite the far-away free agency consequences.

Whether they can help the team NOW, or in a year or two tops, is the more dominant consideration.
In defense of Kevin Lowe, he avoided making a similar error by returning Rob Schremp to junior.
Absolutely dead on about rushing these young players.. Columbus is just ridiculous. I don't think anyone believes they can win it all in the forseeable future, yet they have rushed their best young talent (Nash, Zherdev, Brule) into the lineup every year.. they must have very little faith in their AHL team.

Instead of wasting their money on a guy like Adam Foote, they should have purchased some role players to help fill the voids on that team, then maybe these young kids would have something to show for their effort at the end of the season.

It's a shame too, cause Columbus really does a great job on scouting.. they have a good track record w/ their first rounders.

Thanks for the info on Popperle. I'd say Trinec could use him, but Vojtek/Biegl isn't a bad combination. Why doesn't Litvinov make a big for him? Kamil Jarina is teh suck :)


Meszaros - He is definitely not out of place in the NHL, but it wouldn't surprise me to see him get demoted. I'd rather see him start in the AHL as well, but obviously he played well enough to earn a roster spot. He'll be the first Giants alumni to play a regular NHL game.


James, I hope you are right. I can't cheer against Brule, but I want to see him and Bartley together next month.


Joe, if it wasn't for Balastik/Brule, it would be very easy to cheer against the Dinner Jackets. :) The defense is going to hurt bigtime if Klesla is out for a long period. I wish the Jackets fans would be more patient with him. He was rushed and he's still got a lot of potential.


Marc, I know the mindset of many GM's is short term, so it's up to the entire executive (including owners) to have both long-term and short-term goals. If I am the owner of a team, or of any company, I would reward managers for achieving both LT and ST goals. The Japanese companies are known for this whole North American companies are known as purely short-term thinkers.


NJDevils fan,

Foote was a bad signing for the money (IMO), but having an experience and good defender around is good for the younger players. You need good mentors to learn from (Matvichuk learning to block shots from Craig Ludwig, and so on) and there is a benefit to having good veterans on a young roster.



Robbie Schremp is certainly going to be a steal for the Oilers, IMO. I hope he doesn't sulk any in the AHL, b/c he should rip up that league.
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