Eight games after he was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets from the Phoenix Coyotes, forward Scottie Upshall has quickly become a fan favorite. He’s put up 4 goals in 8 games with Columbus, bringing his season total to 20 and a new career high.
His combination of speed, skill and grit embody what a “complete” player is in the new NHL. He’s also one of just a handful of NHL players to utilize Twitter (@ScottieUpshall), giving fans a glimpse into more than just what they see him do on the ice.
“I really like it here,” said Upshall, “it’s a great bunch of guys. It’s a fun group to be around on a daily basis, and that’s important. I’ve found that it’s been a good fit. It’s been an easy transition for me and Sami Lepisto (part of the trade with Phoenix) to come in here and be welcomed by the guys, the coaches, the staff, the management and the media.”
“I guess what I didn’t really know about Columbus before I got here and became a Blue Jacket, was how awesome hockey is here. Abot how committed the fans are to the team and how exciting the games are. That’s important around a hockey team. That’s something that I look at as a positive being on this team.”
Upshall has an energy around him, even when he’s sitting still in his dressing room stall. It’s almost as if he’s ready to pounce. It’s clearly evident that he boasts as much pride as RJ Umberger, arguably the conscience of the club. Like Umberger, head coach Scott Arniel can slot Upshall in anywhere in the line-up and he gives 100% and doesn’t look out of place.
There hasn’t been this positive of a reaction to a trade since Umberger was brought on board. “It’s a promising thing being welcomed, not only by the team, but also the fans,” Upshall said. “It’s not easy when you get traded. For me to come in an receive positive reaction (from the fans), it’s nice.”
His gritty, two-way play fits in nicely with the system that Scott Arniel has in place. He’s worked at that aspect of his game since a young age. “It’s what has made me the player that I am today. It’s my passion (the game of hockey). You go out there, lay it on the ice and leave it all out there. It’s tough to play (that way) every night, but it’s a style of play that I cherish. I love going out there and scoring goals, but you have to be a good team player. You have to work hard and be a professional. That’s what I’ve learned over the course of my career.”
“Coming into a new room, you want to become a team member as fast as you can. You want to do the right things and lead by example. The guys here, welcomed me and Sami (Lepisto) into the group, so late in the year. Not only does it help me and Sami, it helps the group. It helps everyone become a good, tight group. That’s what we have here. Having been on winning teams in the past, that’s what winning teams are. It’s a tight, family group of guys. Ultimately, it helps everyone become better.”
Make no mistake about it, Scottie Upshall is a “lunch pail” kind of guy. Will GM Scott Howson make an effort to sign him prior to the beginning of Free Agency? All the signs would seem to point to “yes”. Upshall would seem to be one of the missing pieces that is now in the fold and wearing Union Blue. Upshall can see that this club is on the verge of something big in its history as a franchise. If I were a betting man, I’d say that he want’s to be a part of that moving forward.
Head coach Scott Arniel was asked his thoughts on the Brad Marchand elbow to the head of RJ Umberger. “The thing that I’ve said all along is, the league has to get past the fact that a guy gets up (after an illegal hit). It’s real easy (to make the call) when a guy stays on the ice and the medical staff comes out. It’s real easy to discipline a player after that.”
“Last night, Umby got right up because he’s a tough guy and doesn’t like to stay down. That’s where the league has to decide whether it’s a fine, suspension or whatever. On the ice, I thought that should have been a two minute (penalty) right away. As we know with concussions, it isn’t so much that play, it’s a little bit later on in the game. All of a sudden, now you’re starting to feel it. Any kind of blow to the head can be costly.”
“Any hits that target the head, especially from behind, should be a penalty. Marchands’ hit last night was a good example of that.” It was pointed out that this hit fit the definition of Rule 48. “How often does Rule 48 get called?”, said Arniel. “I said to Scott (Howson), put a minimum in. You know automatically that if you did something that was reviewable, something that the league thinks is viscious, it’s automatic. Whether that’s 2 games, 3 games, whatever it is. And there’s no grey area. Everybody know’s that if you do that as a player, you know that you’re going to sit for however many games. If the player knows the punishment, sometimes they won’t do the crime.”