Key additions Carter, Wisniewski ready to help turn around team

Jeff Carter, left, and James Wisniewski flank GM Scott Howson during their introductory news conference . (Photos by Fred Squillante)
By AJ Mazzolini

Finding the missing pieces for a team that has been puzzling offensively and defensively for years was the topic when the Blue Jackets introduced Jeff Carter and James Wisniewski yesterday in Nationwide Arena.

The team has struggled for most of its 10-year existence without a No.1 center or a top-notch scoring defenseman. This offseason, general manager Scott Howson said, the Jackets went a long way toward remedying those issues by trading for Carter, a 26-year-old center, and for the rights to Wisniewski, a 27-year-old defenseman.

"We had two main priorities: acquire a top center and improve our defense," Howson said. "If you look at all the top teams in the NHL, all the strong contenders, they're all strong down the middle. We feel now we have a chance to be very strong down the middle."
AJ Versus Hockey
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This week in AJ Versus, the Kaimin strapped on its skates and hit the ice for some hockey with The University of Montana's men's club hockey team.

As someone who's never played ice hockey and has skated as many times as Crazy Town has topped the Billboard charts (that would be one time), I found myself with one burning question concerning the sport: Is it harder to play hockey or to wake up at the ass-crack of dawn to play hockey?

Turns out, neither is easy.

I arrived at the rink with the clock boasting 6:45 a.m. and laughing at me. The team was completing one of its two weekly practices. Those poor guys had been gamin' it up for an hour before I even arrived. I quickly strapped on a rather smelly borrowed set of pads and laced up the skates (shout out to my buddy Drew for being nearly the same size as me) and glided out onto the slippery surface of death.

Unbalanced and unsure of myself, I quickly fell on my face. Seriously, ice is dangerous. Why else would people sprinkle salt on their sidewalks every winter? Because they want it gone, that's why.

But not John Melendez. The UM senior has been a skating fool for more than a decade. He passed me a puck, which very nearly toppled me from my precariously balanced position. This guy could skate circles around me and he proved it — by skating circles around me.