It was much discussed that the Blue Jackets just couldn’t get their number one center. Try as they might, our bevy of centers took turns handing in mediocre performances while our skilled wingers became more and more frustrated. It was as if they were all content with being a 3rd line center on a 3rd rate team.
The addition of Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov last summer put us on the right track. Maybe we had found our guy. Maybe they would each compete for the top spot, ready for a fresh start with a new team. Well, long story short, Dubinsky was injured most of the season and Ansimov just never seemed to take the full reign as the guy in Columbus. He showed that he could certainly light the lamp, but there was something missing.
With the return of Dubinsky at the end of last season, I started to think about what the role of the center was, at least in my opinion. What would I want in a center, if I were playing? Easy: a gritty leader, a play maker. I couldn’t help but notice that he embodied those same characteristics on the ice.
At last, I feel Brandon Dubinsky is the answer.
The difficult part about defending (or criticizing) Dubinsky is that he just hasn’t played enough games in a Columbus sweater. I can’t go back to a full, or even half, season that he’s played for the Jackets to make my case. But sometimes, that doesn’t matter. Sometimes, you can just feel it. Sometimes, you just know.
Brandon Dubinsky fits the motif of this molding culture unlike any other player. He battles. And no, that isn’t some cliche I threw in there to make him or myself sound good. That man goes to the trenches every shift, using his body to fend of defenders, all for a chance to find a streaking player in the slot. But he doesn’t just go to the dirty areas to aggravate the other team and throw is body around aimlessly, he understands the subtleties of body positioning and stick handling in tight corners.
Dubinsky brings the same energy, passion, and work ethic to every game. He knows well of his injury struggles last year, and he’s eager to prove his self worth. I’ll admit, he’s a secondary scorer. But that’s all he needs to be. Like I said before, I think leadership and play making ability is the number one recipe for center position success in the NHL, and I think Dubi’s ability to just simply make things happen sticks out for me.
The season starts in just over six days. We’ll see if Brandon can withstand a whole season uninjured and productive. And I may just be a another Columbus fan grasping for hope in this guy. But you can’t fake honest play, you can’t fake work ethic. I don’t need a full season to know that Brandon Dubinsky is the number one center for the Jackets, and you won’t either.