Exactly one year ago, any headlines pertaining to the Blue Jackets being a threat would have been likened to squeezing blood from a stone. Although the season was in doubt, hockey fans across the globe had come to expect mediocrity from our beloved hockey club.
Oh, what a difference a year makes. After a dreadful 113-day lockout, fans got a compacted half-season that was filled with excitement, as every single point mattered until the bitter end of the regular season. This is something the Blue Jackets know all too well, as they missed the playoffs because of a tie-breaker rule. I will avoid bringing up the person responsible for that rule (Hint: his name begins with a Scott and ends with a Howson). One single point separated the Jackets from the Stanley Cup playoffs.
As great as last season was for Blue Jackets fans, it was all done without an official Captain. Coach Todd Richards and staff have been extremely patient in their selection of a new captain since our departed one-time hero packed his bags for New York. The patience being shown will result in a great leader for our team.
During last season, it seemed all too simple, take Jack Johnson and Vinny Prospal, flip a coin and brand the new captain. But things have now changed, and the man for whom the #Vinning hashtag was created, is no longer a member of the team. The entire face of the organization has evolved so dramatically that I’m not even sure the team I watched so faithfully for 11 years were the real Blue Jackets.
Just a quick look at our roster will show why this decision is so difficult: Jack Johnson, Brandon Dubinsky, Marian Gaborik, Artem Anisimov, James Wisniewski and R.J. Umberger just to name a few. What does it take to be a great captain? That question is harder to answer than one might think, but I think it can be narrowed down to a simple explanation: What any team needs in a truly great captain is a competitive, hard-working player that has earned the respect of his teammates, can control the locker room at any given moment, and can step-up and make things happen during the game when he is needed the most.
Each of the men listed above, and more that I failed to mention have what it takes to do the job, and do it well. Only one can make the cut, which makes management’s decision that much harder.
In my eyes, no one fits this role like Jack Johnson. When faced with a trade from LA to Columbus, he embraced it, accepted the challenge and was excited for the opportunity. He quickly became a fan favorite because of his overall character and the fact that he plays a tough game. Nothing points to his willingness to be a team player like his time-on-ice per game. He doesn’t want to be sitting on the bench cheering on his teammates; he wants to be a difference maker. But, that is just one opinion.
So, to the Blue Jackets faithful, I ask you this…who is your next captain?