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02-28-2009, 10:30 AM
  #8
transplanted
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
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Jan Hejda getting some love with Buccigross

An excerpt from Jon Buccigross's latest column on espn.com:

Bucci,

What is the deal with Jan Hejda of the Columbus Blue Jackets? Twenty-two minutes a game and a plus-21? After a plus-20 last year?

Don
Westerville


Jan Hejda -- and his butt -- are a plus-19 over 60 games so far this season for the Blue Jackets.

I asked my boy Aaron Portzline of The Columbus Dispatch to give us some inside Jan Hejda info. Aaron is one of my favorites because he can, over a beer in a Columbus bar, make the leap from alt-country to Czech defenseman. Here is Aaron's assessment of Hejda. To quote Young MC, "Break it down for me, fella":

When the Blue Jackets signed Jan Hejda in the summer of 2007, I got the following reports from scouts.

Scout No. 1: "Yawn Hejda. He does nothing for me."

Scout No. 2: "He has a prodigious butt." A strange observation, to be sure. But the second scout was right, and that's a good thing.

Hejda and his massive butt are two of the best-kept secrets in Columbus. Hejda is plus-41 in 139 games with the Blue Jackets, a massively "minus" club since it joined the NHL.

Hejda is hush-quiet. His partner, Mike Commodore, was born with a bullhorn in his throat. They're the odd couple, but they've been a great shutdown pair for Columbus this season. You know coach Ken Hitchcock. He likes his top pair to be able to blow skaters off the puck. Commodore and Hejda won't lug three zones and score, but they fit perfectly with what Hitchcock wants to do.

Hejda's a funny dude, too. When he scored his second NHL goal earlier this season, he deadpanned, "It's hard for me to say which of my goals is most beautiful." He also caused a furor in Canada's capital by calling out Ottawa's Jason Spezza after a recent game: "It's like he didn't even want to play."

Watch Hejda as he backs into the zone with a forward trying to get around him with speed. He has mastered the old-school hipcheck, and it's a beauty to watch as he slings his lower body into the hip of the forward in a flash, sending him halfway up the boards and flat on the ice.

What good is a big can if you don't use it?

Aaron, Sir Mix-A-Lot concurs, yo. Sincerely, Bucci.

Hejda has been an unsung player and what is not mentioned in the article is how much in synche he and Commodore has been and their great communication. They are definitely Hitch players, grinders whose numbers, though great for a defenseman, don't tell the whole story.

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