It’s no secret that the Columbus Blue Jackets have had more than their fair share of struggles. In the team’s 13 year history, they’ve made the playoffs just once. And, excluding 2009, each season has left fans anxious for the draft lottery as opposed to the playoffs. But not this year.
This year, they showed that they are to be taken seriously. They showed grit and, most importantly, determination. And people noticed.
The massive outpouring of support from the media, and NHL fans in general, is something not often seen. Even other teams showed some love for “Lumbus”, a nickname coined by the Los Angeles Kings Twitter staff.
But the most promising thing isn’t the newly found support, but rather the young and rising talent within the organization. What more can be said about Vezina candidate Sergei Bobrovsky, who showed what he can really do when provided the right environment? Or what about Artem Anisimov, or Nick Foligno, or the late acquired Marian Gaborik? Anisimov and Foligno’s Columbus seasons received much deserved attention, and despite his struggles as a Ranger, Gaborik appeared to rediscover his form in his short time with Blue Jackets this season.
And on the back end, the veteran Jack Johnson, who left the Cup Champion LA Kings to help rebuild the team in Ohio, provides steady support for Bobrovsky and moves the puck efficiently up the ice. With these and others playing a supporting role, the future is bright for this young team. Those who expect the Columbus of past to show up next season are sure to be disappointed.
I’m not saying they’re going to win the cup in one year. I’m simply saying that this season, the persistence of a young, scrappy team nearly put them in the playoffs for the second time in 13 years. One thing is for sure, they’re going to want it all next year.
To come so close to being one of sixteen to play for the holy grail of hockey only leaves much to be desired. With the experience of being in the hunt this year, next year’s Blue Jackets will be hungry, and it will pay off for them.