Blog: The Cannon
Writers: Mike MacLean (the General); Andy Newman, Matt Wagner, and Lou Bordeaux (the Colonels); Clint Clark (on leave)
Team: Columbus Blue Jackets
Strength: Thorough recaps and prospect research.
Weakness: Overall there is little participation in the comments sections, but more so in the open game threads.
Warning: The writing can sometimes be dry, but it is very informative.
Hidden Gem: Offseason posts – from prospect profiles to analysis of team operations.
* NOTE: This is the corrected version of this article. The Cannon indeed does have Open Game Threads. I overlooked the Game Threads link in the Sections sidebar. I also referred to the Dark Blue Jacket blog as “Deep” Blue Jacket. My apologies to both. – Rebecca
The Cannon is the first blog I am reading cold – I do not keep up with the Blue Jackets and, although I have seen them play in Nashville, could not tell you much about them before I read The Cannon.
This spring, General Mike MacLean and his Colonels face one of the more unfortunate tasks of a sports blogger: keeping up with a team whose season will end in a few days. Unfortunately, the Blue Jackets are not in contention for a spot in the playoffs this year. While the fans wait it out until it is time to start talking about the future, the writers of The Cannon are doing their best to keep it interesting for them.
This week, for example, they are featuring a link to the Dark Blue Jacket blog that will tally readers’ votes for various NHL awards (the Hart, Calder, Norris, Lady Byng, and Selike trophies). This poll is in response to the current Professional Hockey Writers Association boycott on voting this year and the recent decision by the Columbus chapter to join the boycott (see this USA Today article by Gary Graves for more information)
Like the other blogs, at one time The Cannon had a regular posting of links, called “Shrapnel,” that featured both relevant Blue Jacket links as well as news from around the league. This feature went by the wayside with the apparent departure of Shrapnel compiler Andrew Tolliver. Matt Wagner also used to contribute the “Friday Followup” during the off-season.
Despite the lack of links, there are still some really good posts on other topics. Some of the highlights include “Dirty Rotten Cheaters?” and “Tickets, Trades, and Tones” by Matt Wagner and “Springfield Falcons: On a Clear Day” by Lou Bordeaux. The prospect pages benefit fans as most of these players are not well-known and information and analysis are not always easy to find.
There are some regular commenters, but the number of posts they supply is relatively small (keep in mind, I only have two other blogs to use as comparison right now). Some of the more popular topics this season were on the trade deadline potential and actual transactions.
Final Thought: The Cannon leans more towards a source for insight and news, but some good discussions get going on the big topics.
So, that’s The Cannon blog in my words. I also wanted to let the guys give you a few thoughts in theirs.
Four Questions for The Cannon:
Rebecca: How long have you been writing for The Cannon?
Mike MacLean: I’ve been writing The Cannon since September of 2007, and I have been with SB Nation since April of 2009.
Matthew Wagner: I started writing for The Cannon during the 2010 offseason in April…I’m kind of amazed that it’s already been (almost) a year.
Lou Bordeaux: I offered my first comments on The Cannon toward the end of last hockey season, after the Springfield Falcons (AHL) made public their new affiliation with Columbus. I live about 50 miles from Springfield, so that’s my “home” team. I was invited to join the team at The Cannon last summer, and have been a contributor there all season.
Andy Newman: I first began contributing in July of 2008.
Rebecca: Why did you decide to start The Cannon? / How did you start writing for The Cannon?
Mike: In the summer of 2007, there was very little online content relating to the Blue Jackets. There was of course the local beat writer and his blog, but very few other sources, especially fan-produced blogs. Living in Canada I had access to many of the team’s top prospects, and I saw an opportunity to both give my opinion on the Jackets, and offer fans of the team some insight into the young players in the organization.
Matt: Mike asked me to come on board because he liked what I’d written informally in comments there or places like HFBoards, and some writing I’d done on my own for the team at Fanbase. I started with helping as part of our draft coverage, and expanded from there, eventually taking over a lot of the day-to-day coverage of games and roster moves.
Lou: I posted a few comments as the pained, “Suffering in Springfield”. Despite the pain of being a faithful Springfield Falcons fan (The Falcons have now missed the AHL playoffs in eight consecutive seasons, a dubious AHL record. Stranger yet, that is with four different parent clubs: Phoenix, Tampa Bay, Edmonton and now Columbus), my comments had been objective, positive when possible, and never accusatory or simply a foul mouthed tirade. The team at The Cannon apparently saw my wry wit and were kind enough to extend an invitation to me to join them on the blog. A decision I am sure they regret on a daily basis! I remember some emails between Mike and myself to get things in order. Then I came home one afternoon and saw “Welcome Lou Bordeaux: AHL Expert”. Once you’re deemed an expert, there’s no turning back.
Andy: Mike asked me to share my experience at the Blue Jackets Summer prospects camp, the year that players like Derick Brassard and Jake Voracek were in attendance. I also shot some video of the camp and was able to share it with a larger audience that Mike had built.
Rebecca: What do you think The Cannon offers readers that differs from other blogs?
Mike: I think our blog offers superior content when it comes to the Entry Draft, Columbus prospects playing Canadian junior, college or in the AHL. Our writers come from varied backgrounds, and offer unique opinions. We have a dedicated AHL writer, who offers fantastic insight into the farm system of the team. We have two Columbus natives on staff, who attend and report on games and events for the Jackets, and they each offer informed, interesting opinions on the team. As I mentioned above, I am a Canadian resident who can offer opinion on team from a different perspective, and have insight into the Canadian junior system.
Matt: I think we do a really good job of looking at the entire organization – not just what you see on the ice at the NHL level, but prospects in junior, the AHL, and elsewhere. We also try to give some good stats based analysis of various players and positions through the year that you don’t see as much of in the Jackets’ blogosphere. I also personally think that I’m pretty good at looking at things with a good humor, and generally not giving into some of the more extreme negative reactions that people can sometimes be prone to after 10 years of intense frustration. :)
Lou: The Cannon is really a great place for the true Columbus Blue Jacket fan. Let’s be honest, there are many choices on the web as far as getting CBJ news. The Cannon is more than just a news site. It is also more than just a “Player X bleeping bleeped him up good when he ran Player Y headfirst into the bleeping goalpost” forum. Yes there is news, and thanks primarily to Matt, it’s very timely. All of the writers show our readers respect. We are never condescending in our commentary, and thanks to Mike’s guidance, we keep it factual. In fact, I’ve still got about a dozen articles on my thumb drive that I didn’t post, simply because I feel they bordered more on opinion than fact. The other guys are truly amazing with their in depth knowledge of the Jackets from the top of the front office all the way down to the last draft choice. It’s that knowledge, passion and dedication that sets The Cannon apart from the rest.
Andy: We have a wide range of perspective and various areas of expertise. We have Lou, reporting live from Springfield with a pulse on the Falcons that others don’t have. We love what we do so much that we’ve taken the time to build it into something special with the help of SB Nation.
Rebecca: Once the off-season starts, why should readers continue visiting The Cannon?
Mike: Our offseason content is thorough and interesting. We do annual draft prospect profiles of the top 30-40 draft eligible prospects, which are always well-received. We also offer unique and original opinion on prospective and actual free agent signings, and preview the upcoming season from various angles.
Matt: Because the offseason, painful as it is to say this, is going to be a time of great change – and it’s my hopes that we’ll be right on top of covering it. So many things are likely to shift – the blue line is going to get blown up, what happens with the draft, RFAs, UFAs, will the team make a splash on July 1st….it’s going to be exciting! Plus we’ll spin up our Draft Prospect Profiles that have been so popular for the last few years, breaking down players that you’ll see go on the first and second rounds of the draft to help fans know a little bit about the players they’re most likely to see taken.
Lou: Thanks to the glut of sports channels and especially the NHL Network, hockey is now a 12 month sport. The past few summers, I have looked to the first day of free agent signings like a holiday, rushing home from work to be in front of the TV at noontime. Because of things like that, our readers should know that The Cannon will continue to be there for them all summer long. Naturally, there might not be Blue Jackets info every single day during the off season, but I suspect that we will be revisiting our playoff predictions as the Stanley Cup playoffs get underway. Also, with the SB Nation interface allowing FanPosts and FanShots, I check in to see what other CBJ fans have to offer. Our next “expert” might just be a few keystrokes away!
Andy: We have some of the best prospect coverage out there. Mike’s knowledge of prospects is unreal, and we try to do some great in-depth features around the draft. One of my favorite times of year is free agency and we always are a great resource for information regarding players we hope to see join the Jackets on July 1.