This is the first item in a series of posts I’m hoping to continue throughout the off-season. The goal is to introduce members of the #CBJ community in a way that’s not easy to do in 140 characters or less. The plan is to run at least two profiles per week with one highlighting a CBJ fan and the other one of our more prominent bloggers/content creators.
The first edition of the #CBJ Community Spotlight series is about Matt Souva (a.k.a. @zekebud). Matt is one of my personal favorite #CBJ twitter personalities. We very rarely, if ever, agree on anything but what sets Matt apart from a lot of accounts is that instead of conversations turning into arguments they usually turn into educated debates with researched facts and statistics. Matt, like myself, is a lover of #StatsPorn and while we may not see eye to eye on everything, he always challenges my way of thinking and forces me to make my arguments as educated as possible instead of just arguing differing opinions.
Who is Matt Souza, in his own words?
I’m a chemical engineering grad student at Ohio State by way of Upstate NY. I went to school at Clarkson University (think 2 hours south of Ottawa, Ontario) where I learned about chemical things and how to love college hockey (which led down the slippery slope being an NHL fan). Grad school choices brought me to Columbus and I’m constantly amused by now living in a “real” place. I’m currently working toward a PhD. I do research on colloids and surfactants for drug delivery and drag reduction. In my spare time I’m a music nerd, trumpet player, occasional videogamer, and I await the eventual return of Arrested Development.
With that out of the way, on to the questions!
The easy questions…
1. Favorite #CBJ player and why:
His days are probably numbered and his stock with other Jackets fans is low, but I’ve still got to stick with Rick Nash. Skill players are just dazzling to watch work, and Nash has the rare combination of skill, size and devastating speed. I wasn’t always a hockey fan, but when I saw the Rick Nash Phoenix goal, I knew that I’d found a good player to follow. And his gear change versus Washington on Nov. 11, 2009? Outstanding.
2. Favorite non-#CBJ player and why:
Either Sidney Crosby or Patrick Kane. The first one sounds like such a cop-out (although in some circles it seems trendy to dislike him…) but Crosby is so much better than anybody else in the NHL. When you see the kind of psychic passes or devastating backhand shots he can make, your jaw just drops. Patrick Kane I like because of his Team USA roots and his crazy hands. Seriously, his moves almost (mind you only almost) make me like the shootout. I still think the Minnesota goalie Backstrom is looking for the skates he got deked out of on Dec. 14, 2011.
3. Favorite #CBJ moment:
I wasn’t fully on board (or even in Columbus) when the team made the playoffs, so my favorite moment would have to be the October 30 game against Anaheim this season. I had lower bowl seats, and the team was looking for only their second win of the year. The win was nice, the game was fun (Ryan Getzlaf was fairly well agitated), but the crowd is what did it. These people packed the house and were LOUD. It reminded me of college hockey in a small rink. It was awesome and makes me look forward to the day (hopefully soon) when Nationwide is rocking like that all season.
4. Favorite general hockey moment:
Clarkson University games versus St. Lawrence University. So I’m a Clarkson grad from upstate NY, and hockey is the only D1 sport at both of these schools. Everybody comes out to see games against the various Cornells and RPIs of the world, but the games between Clarkson and SLU are absolutely the best sporting experiences I’ve ever witnessed. I say without doubt: Clarkson-SLU is the best rivalry in sports. In particular, I recall going to a playoff game AT St. Lawrence that Clarkson won in overtime. I’ve never heard such a loud building go dead silent so fast. Intense, injuring, physical play. Absurd speed, goalies standing on their heads. The pleasure of having old grandmas yell very unkind things at us Clarkson fans (and then throw stuff!). College sports are fun. College hockey is the best. Clarkson vs SLU is the best of them all.
5. Team you would root for if #CBJ had never existed:
I’ve actually put a good deal of though into this as I made the choice to follow the Jackets after finally getting into hockey in college. I probably would have been a Sabres, Penguins or Islanders fan. My friends are Buffalo or Pittsburgh followers so that would have been easy enough, and most other sports teams I support are from NY and wear blue-and-orange. If you forced me into saying one? Probably Buffalo.
6. Favorite non-#CBJ jersey:
The Minnesota Wild. I know they’ve got yet another red home jersey, but their 3rd and away jerseys are outstanding. It’s a great blend of colors that uses a strong amount of green (something that only Vancouver seems to do), and they look good in motion. I like them because they’re novel enough (relative to the rest of the NHL) and still well-executed.
Some tougher questions:
7. What are your expectations for the #CBJ in the next 1, 3, and 5 years:
That’s tough to say and really depends on the kind of goaltending and offense that come through in the next few years. Just in terms of a gut feeling, I’d expect a new goalie and thus an improvement next year. Probably a 23rd-27th finish in the overall standings. For the next 3 years, I’d expect new draft picks and prospects to be kicking in and Ryan Johansen to be a top-15 center in the NHL. For the next 5 years, I would expect 1 playoff appearance (a modest goal), a quasi-permanent goalie, and a new jersey set to appear.
8. If you were GM of the #CBJ, who do you draft at second overall & why:
If Edmonton doesn’t draft Yakupov (or doesn’t trade down), Nail is the obvious choice. If Yakupov isn’t there? I’d like for the Jackets to draft Grigorenko or Galchenyuk. The exact pick would depend on the overall health risk analysis, so I’d probably say Grigorenko. I’m not inclined to believe that the defense in this draft are nearly as good as advertised (although my saying that isn’t overly informed), so either of the remaining top forwards is preferable. Grigorenko doesn’t have the MCL injury concern and his upside is much higher. I also don’t believe in worrying over intangibles and character concerns: if he’s willing to play and doesn’t completely ruin on-ice chemistry, then his talent is something the Jackets need.
9. Would you rather see the #CBJ be more competitive next season but miss the playoffs or get another high draft pick & why:
This is yet another question I’ll answer in two ways. If the team can get the right goalie and other forwards in place fairly quickly, I’d rather see the Jackets be more competitive. This would be a sign of growth and would suggest that they were actually only a few pieces away, rather than where they were this year. But if the team can’t get a 3-5 year goalie solution, then I’d rather they get another high draft pick. And yes, it’s a lottery, but a shot a Nathan MacKinnon (or if anybody surpasses him, that would be great too) would be well worth a year of proper development for the youth and netminders in the CBJ organization.
10. Can you list something(s) that you like and something(s) you’d like to see changed with the #CBJ community:
I like that, despite the cruddy season, the #CBJ world is loud and energetic. I like that people are so willing to gather (virtually or in person) to support their team. I like that arguments are noisy but civil, and (probably most importantly) that essentially everybody has a great sense of humor about things. We’d probably all be just miserable otherwise. I can’t think of any specific #CBJ changes. I wish that more people would try to read about hockey stats (but that’s a personal thing), but the general fan-community is in great shape right now.
11. Who are 5 #CBJ twitter accounts you think more people should be following?
- @Chemmy because he’s not strictly a #CBJ person (he’s a Leafs blogger) but his outside perspective is excellent
- @AKrygier because you need to know the whole story
- @SirChadlyOC because CBJ fans need more popcorn gifs and hilarious wit in their Twitter feed
- @TheCoachUB because you’re missing out on some great information if you don’t follow him
- @bzarcher because it occurred to me that some of you might not read The Cannon blog and you really need to
12. Any shout outs you want to give or blogs/twitter accounts you want to help promote?
Shout out for my oft-non-updated blog “In Words and Phrases“ and for “Pension Plan Puppets” the SB Nation Leafs blog. Seriously, go visit it when the Leafs win a game and bask in the chaotic mayhem of a gif party. Sometimes it’s worthwhile seeing another fanbase go raving lunatic mad over their team to remind you that, yes, hockey is a game and it’s all kinds of fun.
13. Any final thoughts… on anything?
If next season becomes depressing again, be sure to get out to a college hockey game. Ohio State wasn’t awful this year, and the college hockey atmosphere is something that’s hard to replicate in other places. Admission is pretty cheap and you get to see some NHL prospects in the process!