Monday, March 2, 2015

Trade Deadline Fail....Or...

Jarmo finally gets rid of the other guy's players
At the trade deadline this afternoon the Columbus Blue Jackets traded the booming shot on the right point of their power play for a second round pick, a prospect (decent), and a player (below average).  Now Jackets fans should familiarize themselves with the opposition putting heavy pressure on the power play points, without the fear that they would wade into one of James Wisniewski's slap shots, and thus be reduced to a quivering heap on the ice.  That aspect of our power play is gone, and we don't have a replacement for it.  We never had that quality before Wiz arrived, and we don't have it now.  This is not a good hockey trade, and the organization is weaker for it.  This is two trade deadlines in a row with Jarmo getting absolutely schooled on a deadline trade by his west coast counterparts.

The Clarkson trade I can see.  That's a hockey trade, where both organizations benefit.  The Leopold trade was the right thing to do anyway, and his daughter's letter was the icing on the cake.  Once again, that was a hockey trade.  Jordan Leopold came in when we had a bunch of D-men hurt, and he provided good service.  He was then frequently scratched, but handled himself like a pro.  We owed him the destination that made sense for him and his family, and the Wild was that destination.

The Wisniewski trade doesn't make sense.  Why get rid of him now, for less than he was worth?  Could you have gotten more in the summer?  Or do you think this draft is loaded enough clear to the bottom of the second round (doubtful if its THAT loaded) that it's worth it for an extra second round pick this year.  It's hard to figure.
Mike Reilly, the alternative explanation
The only thing that I can figure out, is that once Minnesota is out of the NCAA Men's Hockey tournament, Mike Reilly is eligible to go pro.  And chances are you need to have an NHL spot if you are going to get him to sign, otherwise, he waits till the end of summer and becomes an unrestricted free agent.  When you think of Reilly, you think of a Kris Letang kind of defenseman, not real big but incredibly mobile.  He has 6 goals and 31 assists for Minnesota this season.  Even if you give him a generous contract, it is going to be far less than Wisniewski's.  If he is ready to be a mobile scoring defenseman at the NHL level, than this may have ended up being a good move.  I think that is a pretty big leap at this point, but they have seen this guy in development camp for a few years, and have scouted him for sure.  So maybe it is Mike Reilly time.

James Wisniewski has always played hard for the Blue Jackets.  He has done the things that he was brought here to do, and the flaws in his game were known when he came.  I wish Wiz well on the West Coast, and at this point I hope he is the latest Blue Jacket to be the 'last piece' to a Cup winning team.

I like the Cam Atkinson signing for two main reasons.  First, is because he is a good player, and he's going to score some goals in the NHL.  Second, because he serves to keep our young talent down in the developmental leagues until they can prove they can be better than Cam.  If we have young talent coming up that can prove they're better than Cam, then that's a good thing for us.  So I like that signing as part of trade deadline day.

On the home front, the CBJ are faced with ferocious tanking all around them.  I guess we just need to keep up with the Joneses if we are to preserve an advantageous draft position.

Ultimately, there is one other message that Wiz's trade deadline deal sends.  And that is the message that this year's results do not meet standards.  The injuries are vast, and debilitating.  There is a fine line between a reason and an excuse.  But there have been long stretches where it is hard to argue that the guys on the ice have played well, in spite of the injuries.  So the message is that the result is unacceptable, and that a price must be paid, no matter what.  In that regard, Wiz may be taking one for the team again.  But this is certainly not how we want to spend next year.


Sunday, March 1, 2015

Penalties Aid Pens

Johansen scored a nice consolation shorty 
The Blue Jackets most recent tail spin continued tonight as they fell to the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-3.  The CBJ played a good road first period, and carried a lot of play, ending the period tied 1-1.  The Penguins roared out of the gate in the second period, and a series of brilliant saves by Curtis McElhinney momentarily kept the Jackets in the game.  After the last save, the puck was lying in the crease, and to clear the puck to the side Wisniewski had to loft the puck over the sprawling McElhinney.  It ended up clearing the glass for a delay of game penalty, and early in the ensuing penalty kill Tyutin tried to lift Crosby's stick and high sticked him.  The 5 on 3 effectively ended the game as the Pens scored two goals in short order on the power plays, to take a 3-1 lead.  The silly penalties continued, and the Penguins scored another power play goal to end the second period 4-1.

The CBJ started the third period by yielding a soft goal to make it 5-1, and the bleeding stopped there.  The penalties continued, and with Jack Johnson off on a cross checking penalty, Ryan Johansen stole the puck at the top of the defensive zone while on the penalty kill, blew by both defenders on a break away, and neatly scored on Fleury.  Later, Corey Tropp took a boarding major against Simon Despres, and got tossed from the game, and may well have a chat with the folks from player safety next week.  The CBJ managed to kill the major, but it took most of the starch out of their game.

With less than a minute remaining in the game, Nick Foligno reminded Fleury that he will continue to score on him with routine shots, by putting one past a defenseman and into the net.  While not affecting the result of the game, it was a good reminder to the Pens that they trail the season series 2-1.

Tuesday's game will be 7 games in 11 days for the CBJ.  They are starting to run on fumes, and with no momentum to help them with this stretch, they are having a hard time putting together complete games, and their breakdowns are costing them.  Arizona flushed their roster today, Edmonton is still a joke, and Buffalo is uncatchable.  Toronto, Carolina, and the CBJ are jockeying for draft position after that.  We'll see how that all turns out.

It was a tough night for the good guys.  The trade deadline is at 3 pm tomorrow.  I won't be sorry if the CBJ don't make any moves.  I think this team can win as constituted.  It just isn't going to happen this year.  But we will know tomorrow how it all turns out.


The Devils in the Details

I'm having a hard time pulling this one together.  Last night's game was an interesting one, in that it was a near perfect example of New Jersey Devils hockey.  The game turned on a shot lobbed from outside that was spot on, far corner top, and a defensive clamp down like only the Devils can do.  I joked about this being a 'must lose' game in the race for advantageous draft position.  Thus my friends were perplexed when I was yelling at the ref for not calling an egregious hook.  Well, I want entertaining hockey as well.

The line up churn continued last night, with Calvert and Dubinsky both being diagnosed with concussions.  This on the heals of a trade that repaired one of the injury spots, so the net affect on the injury list was that it got longer.  New acquisition David Clarkson played well enough for being thrown in with a team that he barely knows.  This guy could be a good fit in our lineup, but it won't be until next year until the full potential of his contribution can be realized.  He'll get another chance this afternoon to get more familiar with his new teammates.

On the draft position front, things go well.  We are a mere point ahead of Carolina and Toronto, and if they both past us we could be looking at a third overall pick.  That's gonna be a darn good player this year.  I know the losing kind of sucks, but I really don't think its going to play out this way next year, and the draft position is a big deal for the future of the club going forward.  We'll see how this plays out, but if ever a team needed to have a 'reset' button hit, its this team.  The lineup churn mentioned above just seems to keep them from developing any kind of rhythm as a group.  Oh well.

This afternoon, the face the Penguins in Pittsburgh.  That should get their juices flowing!


Friday, February 27, 2015


In my grandfather's old laboratory notes, shots attempted for
is called Fenwick
Like most Blue Jackets fans, I was shocked to get the news of the trade of David Clarkson for Nathan Horton.  This is a good hockey trade, and both teams benefit.  Clarkson is going to fill a similar role that Nathan Horton was slated to fill, and while Horton was going to be a more prolific scorer, the question was, by how much?

I spent some time fussing with Horton's and Clarkson's numbers from now back to the 2008-09 season, 7 years of hockey.  There are lots of ups and downs, some injury years, and a truncated season.  To try to get a good comparison of these players, I finally settled on calculating goals per game (GPG) and points per game (PPG) for both players to take into account varying number of games played.  I felt this gave me a very reasonable way to assess their comparative production.  Horton is the better player, no question, and in the absence of a degenerative back condition, was the better of the two deals.

Problematically, the degenerative back condition resulted in goose eggs for Horton's production this year, and no matter what you think of Clarkson, something is better than nothing for the money.  So, what is a reasonable expectation?

To generate a reasonable expectation for each player, I calculated an average GPG and PPG for the seven years, but dropped the high season, and the low season for each player.  I did not include this year as one of Horton's years in this calculation, so it was a 5 year average for Clarkson, and a four year average for Horton.  I then multiplied the resulting GPG and PPG by 82 to generate a 'reasonable expectation' for each player in a complete season of play.

Clarkson's 'reasonable expectation' calculation ended up giving me an expectation of 18 goals and 31 points.  Horton's expectations were a more robust 26 goals and 52 points, which would be huge for our team if it weren't for the fact that the realistic expectation is 0 and 0.  Compared to 0 and 0, 18 goals and 31 points seems ok.  That wouldn't be that bad for Clarkson except for the fact that in Toronto the expectation was that he score 30 goals.  We know now that won't happen.

So let's consider the impact of that expectation in our team if we assume it's next year, and we aren't riddled by a ridiculous level of injuries.  Clarkson becomes one of 5 or 7 players that are scoring between 15 and 20 goals, which means that somewhere along the line, Clarkson is going to be playing against some advantageous match-ups.  That's how we won a lot last year, and I think we will again next year.

With Foligno, Dubinsky, Hartnell, Anisimov, Clarkson, Jenner and Atkins capable of scoring 15-20 goals,  and Johansen scoring 25 goals, we have a lot of dispersed scoring ability.  If all those players scored 20 goals, and Johansen scored 25 goals, we would have more 'goals for' than we have to date in this season, without defensive scoring and other supporting scoring (e.g. Letestu, Wennberg, Dano, Rychal, Anderson).  The Blue Jackets are at their best when they are rolling 3 second lines, and a gritty 3rd/4th line.  When we do that, we are relentless, and somewhere along the way one of those lines gets a favorable match-up, especially on the road.  We haven't been that way  for a lot of this year, due to the holes in the line up from injuries.

So that's where I'm setting the bar for David Clarkson, 18 goals and 31 points for an 82 game season.  That is based on past performance, and he should be able to do that.  And if he does, the CBJ will be a better team.  As far as the money, that's a great deal more than nothing, so it makes our team better.  So why not?

Welcome to Columbus David Clarkson.  I hope this works out for you.


Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Game Within the Game

Jarmo to Lou Lamarillo:  You call that a move
Lou?  Not only did I bury the Horton Contract
I got Dubinsky injured too!!
Tonight, the Columbus Blue Jackets subtly cost the Montreal Canadians millions of dollars of future contract money by allowing Max Pacioretty to score another goal, potentially crippling the Montreal organization for years to come on Pacioretty's next deal.  Pacioretty's agent: Heck, Max can score 20 goals on the Blue Jackets alone, imagine what he can do against the rest of the league!  Many Blue Jackets fans were concerned to see a superior Montreal team skate the Jackets off the ice.  They fail to understand the subtleties of the long game that Jarmo is playing (tongue planted firmly in cheek).

The more earth-shaking move happened right before tonight's game, when the Blue Jackets traded injured Nathan Horton for much maligned David Clarkson of the Toronto Maple Leafs.  I'm sorry, for as much joy as this causes the Leafs fans, this is a good hockey trade.  Toronto gets cap relief by putting a good Ontario boy, Nathan Horton, on long term injured reserve.  The money is no issue to them, and Horton was born and raised in the Welland, Ontario area, so he's a home boy.  As a small market team, we can't afford to pay Horton's apparently uninsured contract, and Toronto gets rid of the Clarkson contract, which will at least shift the scorn from the Toronto management to the CBJ management, a great deal for the Toronto brass.

Clarkson didn't work out in Toronto.  Based on what I've heard so far, he thinks he's a better fit here.  Sometimes, what you think is all that matters.  Hopefully he takes some time to jell, hitting his stride next year, rather than this year, when we are in the hunt to sink low enough for the number 5 overall pick (important!!).

There are moves of subtlety abroad on the table.  30 teams want to win the Cup.  Only a few will.  For now, don't judge this player until next year.  A stable environment and a crowd that is not actively hostile may go along way towards what he can do.  Our expectations of Clarkson are related to a guy who's career might be tragically finished.  That's a tad different than the expectations in Toronto.  All Clarkson has to do is bring what Nathan Horton could have brought.  That's not an unrealistic expectation for this guy.  So we'll see.

Right now we are picking 6th, a mere 1 point above Toronto.  Picking 5th would be huge.  All of a sudden Saturday is looming as a must lose game.  Yoikes!  The game is afoot!!


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Ha Ha (Bart Simpson, Personal Communication circa 2002); Sucker Play!

Wennberg makes a play on Anton Forsberg in 2014
Development Camp
Tonight Columbus narrowly clung to its 6th overall pick by forcing the Buffalo Sabres to cough up a couple of points in the win column  on their side based on the strength of two rookie goal tending gaffes by the CBJ.  Anton Forsberg continued a harsh education in life in the NHL by letting one through that he had, and then by being overly aggressive, but not having the strength of will to continue the play.  It's one thing to over-commit.  Its another to change your mind half way.  That indecisiveness cost the CBJ the game.  This is not especially problematic in a rookie goal tender unless he proves himself unable to learn from the lessons.  

Strategically, however, this is huge.  The first period and a half could be characterized as 'mistakes in the net'.  The first two were soft/mistakes by the young goal tender.  The second two were on the team, where unchallenged players had open looks on a vulnerable goal tender.  Shockingly [sarcasm] those ended up in the net.  The good thing was that the players responded with anger and frustration, scored two goals, and pummeled the net with pretty good opportunities,   But Neuvirth, the Buffalo goal tender, given a new lease on life, responded with some nice stops.  But, back to strategery, the Sabres took two standings points from us, which helps to keep New Jersey and Ottawa to sinking to our level, and thus stealing a really good draft pick.  Toronto is a mere three points back in the suck column and they may yet do some stupid winning down the stretch, in spite of them being a basket case.

This is the type of game that good teams lose anyway.  First home game coming in off of a road trip is not often advantageous to the home team, and while the coaching staff correctly identified it as a trap game, it is only a trap game because a team with a horrible record is playing ok.  Much like ourselves, except not tonight.  Our team was willing to accept the mistakes by the rookie goal tender, but it was only after they hung him out to dry on brutal coverage mistakes that they got mad and really started taking their game to Buffalo, which resulted in numerous beautiful chances, as well as two goals.  However, Neuvirth was loath to surrender rookie mistakes, and that ended up being the difference in the end.

Tonight was a near perfect game by our squad, for their circumstances.  That is measured only in the outcome, because I feel confident that their plan was to lay an ass beating on Buffalo.  But the best laid plans of mice and men.....

At any rate, I have watched a lot of CBJ teams play out the string in Nationwide Arena.  I've been a season ticket holder since 2005-06 (next year is 10 years!).  There is some brutal hockey in that run, I can assure you.  This team does not resemble those teams.  There is an anger with tonight's game that is palpable even in the upper bowl.  I look at that as a huge positive.

This team is damn good, they are just in a really weird situation.  The whole trade deadline thing is, I think, hugely unsettling to them.  You don't win anything significant unless you have a little luck.  This team, this year, has none.  Next year is a reset, and look out.  This is a team that will enter 2015-16 with a chip on its shoulder, not with the satisfaction of achieving something significant for the franchise.  That will serve them well.

These losses at this juncture are huge, to keep us in position to restock with very good talent, while preserving the will and confidence of our players.  There has never been a more delicate stretch run in the franchise's history, and we have blown some of these opportunities with late runs.  A simple .500 record from here on out will do wonders.

This is a good team, with players that have a lot to offer.  But I wouldn't stand next to them in a lightening storm this year.  Next year is a new year, and I think we, as fans, will see something very pleasing.  But for now, it's picking 6th, with a lottery chance.  We want to preserve that, while preserving our dignity.


Monday, February 23, 2015

Proud, Yet Satisfied

Marko Dano
It was the weirdest of times, it was the even weirder of times.  Or something like that.  Last night a road weary Blue Jackets team got jumped early, but fought their way back to forge a tie.  Even better, we lost the skills competition to remain in the number 6 slot in the 2015 NHL entry draft.  There is going to be a REALLY GOOD player available at number 6 in this draft.  Fading to the 5th pick would be ideal, but Shanahan is going to keep kicking the Toronto players hard enough to make that unlikely, and anything earlier, bar the miraculous lottery win, is out of our reach.  There is going to be another Wennberg-like player available in this slot.  And yes, I will address the raging Dano versus Wennberg debate on Twitter in a bit.

This has been a tough year.  I am amazed, and really proud of our team for the moxie they showed last night to fight back into this game.  That kind of tenaciousness is a key ingredient for starting to make runs into the playoffs.  And if you have designs on a Cup, with Jarmo and JD certainly do, you need to have a team that can deal with the baggage of going deep, but not getting to the top of the mountain, and so turn around and do it again.  And for that, you need deep talent to go with your moxie.  Our ability to draft high in a very deep draft  this year could serve this organization well for years to come.  With the right core of veterans to teach the young talent well, you are laying a foundation for the type of success the Redwings have shown over the years (kudos to them, in all seriousness, I thought that playoff streak was toast this year.  Not so).  This year is a momentary set back.  There is no reason to think that organizationally  last year was an aberration, or that we will necessarily in the future enter the playoffs with a our 'gas tank empty'.  You have to punch your ticket to the dance, and we will not this year, but once you are there, you need to have more.  The 2008-09 team left it all on the ice to punch the ticket.  The 2013-14 team demonstrated that it had not, but was still to young to grasp the moment.  In spite of the injuries, and some horrifying losing streaks, this team has shown a lot of progress in the regular season in 2014-15, particularly against better competition.

Last night the Rangers didn't have an answer for our 'third' line in the second and third periods.  Our team was at its best last year when we were rolling three 'second lines' and a highly effective fourth line.  That has not happened this year except in a few instances.  Last night, we ended up with a match-up that the Rangers could not deal with.  Alain Vingneault is a hell of a coach, and he will have an answer for that match-up the next time we play them.  The rest of the league is studying the video.  They'll be ready with an attempt to answer that.  The match-ups are key.  The answer to containing the Foligno-Anisimov-Dano line might mean that the Hartnell-Johansen-Wennberg line wins it's match-up.

Marko Dano is going to be a good NHL player.  The Twitterverse was opining that we should have had Dano up all year long instead of Wennberg.  I disagree.  Wennberg should have been in the AHL all year, but the early season decimation of centers meant he needed to be up here, as we needed bodies.  Recall that Dubinsky, Letestu and Anisimov were all on injured reserve early in the season.  The sent him down briefly, but had to call him right back up when Anisimov tore a triceps muscle.  At that point, its better to leave him up than to bounce him back and forth.  Dano's development was better served by being in the AHL.  He is in that initial 5 game performance bump after being called up, so looks good.  Let's review Dano's play on St. Patrick's day, and then we'll know if he's better than Wennberg.  Wennberg has been in the NHL when he probably shouldn't have been, has taken his lumps, learned from them, and responded with steady improvement.  Once he gets over his rookie reluctance to shoot the puck, he is going to be really good.  I think Dano is going to be a very good NHL player.  I think Wennberg has a higher ceiling.  I wonder if we are going to see Rychal after the trade deadline?

I liked what I saw from our team last night.  I liked even better that we held our draft position.  Because this difficult time is a harbinger for great things to come.  And it is not far off.


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Saying What You Don't Want to Hear

'You fight me, you fight the Tasmanian Devil'
Tonight the Columbus Blue Jackets lost to the Montreal Canadians 3-1 on the strength of 2 cross ice passes to Max Pacioretty in the first ten minutes of the game that gave the Habs a 2-0 lead that they never looked back from.  A greasy goal by the Jackets, an empty netter by the Habs, and the game is done.

The Jackets played well, continuing a good stretch of play by our hockey club.  It is very clear that this is a good team in a tough situation, with only being able to afford a handful of losses but 25 or so games remaining.  But realistically, at this juncture we have a very advantageous draft position in a very strong draft.  I would hate for a false and futile charge at this point to screw that up.  I love the team we have now.  They are playing hard and well, and I am proud of them.  But I have to confess to a certain relief with tonight's loss.

As much as I like this team, and the players on it, and as much as I know that they can do better than they have as currently constituted, this team is also going to get better with time on two separate fronts.  The first and most obvious, HOLY MOTHER OF GOD WHAT ARE THE KINGS WEARING??!!!  Those are vintage New York Knickerbocker uniforms, aren't they??  Are they retiring Ty Cobb's jersey tonight or something?  Wow!  That's a visual. Whew!

Ok, where was I?  Oh yeah.  Two fronts.  The first and most obvious is the influx of young talent in the form of Wennberg, Rychal and Dano.  Two of those three were in the lineup tonight, gaining valuable experience.  The other less obvious front, but almost as important is the continuing experience our core is gaining playing with one another.  For the most part, these guys have been together for 3 seasons now, and that stability is starting to have positive affects on their play.  We aren't blowing up the lineup every year now.  Assuming we can actually start a hockey season without a horrifying stretch of play, this is going to be a pretty good team going forward.

And there are more than the aforementioned three players in the pipeline.  Josh Anderson will play at the NHL level.  Oliver Bjorkstrand is currently pillaging Canadian major junior hockey like Attila the Hun, with goals in 7 straight games, and at least one 6 point game.  Sonny Milano is in the mix down there too, as well as some good defensive prospects like Mike Riley (sp?) and Dillon Heatherington.  The notion that we can backfill the prospect pool with very good talent from this year's draft means this team will be at an unprecedented level of organizational depth and strength.

This has been a tough year.  But I want us to pick at least at where we are sitting now, so good entertaining play, interspersed with stirring losses to maintain our draft position is the order for the rest of the year.  Then gather ourselves, and mess with some people's heads next year.

We have a good team having a tough year.  They played well, but didn't get the result tonight.  Perfect!


Thursday, February 19, 2015

James Wisniewski Suspended for 8 Games because Crosby Punched Dubinsky

Dubinsky - Too Smart to Punch Crosby
Tonight, Brendan Shanahan, President of Hockey Operations for the Toronto Maple Leafs, announced he was suspending James Wisniewski for 8 games because Sidney Crosby punched Brandon Dubinsky.  Shanahan observed that Wisniewski was lucky that Dubinsky was too smart to punch Crosby, and that as a previous offender he deserved everything that Crosby had coming to him.  Besides, Shanahan observed, this move (suspending Wisniewski) has worked well for him in the past.

In trivial hockey news, not really significant to hockey pundits, was the fact that the Columbus Blue Jackets moved to 2-0 on the season series with their Metropolitan Division competitors, the Pittsburgh Penguins.  This was attributed to solar flares, and other inexplicable natural phenomenon, because everyone knows, including the fourth string announcers that NBC used for this game, that the Pittsburgh Penguins are a really great team, and ready to drive for a Stanley Cup any time, in spite of their interim general manager and coach.  The preceding statements do not apply to Blake Comeau, who is  a good dude and deserves everything he earns with Pittsburgh, and that we really could have used what he offers at a lot of times in this season, but I didn't really want to go there.

Meanwhile, Mrs Gallos observed that the Wisniewski gag was going to get really old at some point in time, that was rapidly approaching.  To which Gallos jauntily retorted that you can't make up stuff this stupid, and that history was my protector..... or something dumb like that.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Give Ian Clark a Raise

Ian Clark coaching up Jeremy Smith.  "this means
get me outta the game!!"
Curtis McElhinney set a career mark in saves last night, and is looking very solid in the absence of the Number 1 goal tender, Bobrovsky.  In last night's win against the Flyers, CMac made an unbelievable cross crease glove save on Jake Voracek to preserve a fragile lead.  Even then, the Flyers pushed back to a tie in that wild second period.

What is clear is that McElhinney is playing at a level that represents some of the best play in his career.  Why then, at this point?  Getting routine work contributes of course (taking notes Richie?).  There is something to be said for not riding the number 1 goal tender like a rented mule.  McElhinney is playing for a contract, and if this team is going to make any noise next year it HAS to have a solid back up.  I think Forsberg is going to be a very good goal tender, but he does not seem ready to be number 2, and contracts don't come much cheaper than McElhinney's.  You could give him a nice raise on a 1 year deal, and be VERY cap friendly.

To me, a prime reason why McElhinney is playing so well is Ian Clark.  Once he came in as a full time goal tender coach, the position has steadily become of  position of strength.  Getting Bobrovsky of course was a key, but someone needs to keep Bob at the top of his game,   But is that Clark?  Well McElhinney has definitely come around.  Mike McKenna did well in relief of both Bob and McElhinney, and realistically, Forsberg hasn't played that poorly, but he definitely has drawn some games where we ran into a buzz saw (Lightening, Islanders).

In my opinion, Clark is slowly but surely turning the goal tending position into a position of strength for the organization.  If we ever want to make some real noise in the playoffs, real depth at the position will be necessary.  We seem to be on the right path, so let's make sure we keep this guy!