Apr 27, 2013; Columbus, OH, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson (7) celebrates a goal against the Nashville Predators during the third period at Nationwide Arena. Columbus defeated Nashville 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

Columbus Blue Jackets Need To Be Sure On Captain


The Columbus Blue Jackets need to name a captain. Okay, sure, I said this before the season. (And before last season, too). And okay, sure, I’ll admit Coach Todd Richards and the management proved me wrong.

Over 13 years, Columbus fans have developed an inferior complex to that of a clingy girlfriend. Tell me you love me. You do like playing here, right? Tell me how much you love the city. Nationwide Arena is a great place to play, don’t you agree?! You do? Can I get it in writing?

Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

You can’t blame us. It’s no secret the Jackets have been horrid. Players didn’t want to play here. After being traded to the team, Jeff Carter made sure his discontent was known. Former Columbus Captains Adam Foote and Rick Nash both asked for a trade mid-season. Rick Nash was the only respectable thing about the Jackets. He constantly claimed his love for the city. Then he asked for a trade, and we hit an all-time low.

For fans of the team, we crave attention. We’ve been begging Detroit for years to hate us, but damn if they don’t pity us. So it’s no surprise that when a player shows genuine excitement to play in Columbus, fans latch on. After being traded from the Los Angeles Kings, Jack Johnson could have/should have been upset. Not to mention he was a University of Michigan man in Buckeye country.

He couldn’t have been more excited.

Fans, including myself, flocked to him. They cried out “give him the ‘C’!” But management waited yet. Frustration started to build. When were they going to make Johnson captain? I mean it was only a matter of time, right? Nash was gone. Jack was the future.

Still no captain, though.

The shortened season saw new faces in Artem Anisimov and Brandon Dubinsky. Jack was still the favorite. Coach Richards, however, claimed the team didn’t need a captain. Sigh. It had been so long now, the anticipation for the Captain Jack era began to fade. Why were they waiting so long? Did they not think he was the right fit?

Mandatory Credit: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

The closer the off season got, the more Brandon Dubinsky’s name crept in for the “C.” Dubinsky? He was injured in most of the games last year, only netting two goals. It’s not that he wasn’t a good player, he just hadn’t played enough games in a Columbus sweater.

The season only a few days away, Dubinsky’s name was just as prevalent for Columbus’s head honcho. He started to act like a captain, on and off the ice. He said all the right things, made all the right plays. After 11 games, there was no way Dubinsky could not be captain. He had replaced Jack as the favorite.

Still no captain, though.

Why? It feels a bit ridiculous we haven’t named someone. Another day there’s no Columbus Blue Jackets captain is another day I get more frustrated. But Coach Richards was clearly waiting. But on what? Or maybe who? He has a strategy so I began asking myself what it was.

The very reasons we need a captain is the very reason we shouldn’t rush it. The city, the franchise has moved on from Rick Nash. And we need to name a captain to prove that much. Nash was the only thing that kept the Jackets relevant. But he’s gone, and we’re better than ever. Rick needed to go for us to move on. (Sports are funny, huh?)

Mandatory Credit: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

But Coach Richards reads between the lines. He knows why we need a captain. That’s why he isn’t naming one anytime soon. Brandon Dubinsky is the fan-favorite to wear the “C.” But he’s only played in a handful of games for Columbus. What if he’s not ready?

The last thing this city needs is another captain who’s not ready to be captain. Adam Foote didn’t deserve it. Rick Nash was clearly god-like in skill but he was no true captain. They both opted out of town. Dubinsky fits the bill so far, but he needs to prove himself. Columbus wants to be relevant oh so bad. And if another captain didn’t work out, it would bury the franchise.

Brandon Dubinsky will be named captain. But not this season. Gone are the days that we give up such a treasured honor to any player who smiles in a union blue sweater. They need to prove to the coach, to the management, to his teammates, to the fans, to the city, and to himself that he skates for Columbus.

 

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  • RedStorm45

    This topic has been beaten to death and I honestly don’t care anymore. It works for them. I think the “C” is overrated. These are (mostly) grown men. A little patch on a sweater isn’t going to dictate who their leader is. I like the 3 A’s and the fact that they’re leading as a group and working through the now 50+ games without a designated captain. The players seem fine with it. The coaches and management are fine with it. Let’s let it go.

    • Mark Huss

      First – You’re trying to tell me that if you were a captain of a professional hockey team you wouldn’t have a sense of pride, and feel that you had a commitment to lead a team?

      Second – It is tradition, teams in the NHL have a captain, no question.

      Third – Look at the teams that have won the cup in the last 6 years, all led by great captains. Toews, Brown, Crosby, Lidstrom, Chara. The Blue Jackets need a captain, and it is imperative that they get it right this time around.

      Great article Tyler.

      • RedStorm45

        1) That’s not what I’m saying. But they have a good GROUP of guys leading right now. I don’t see the need for appointing just one as the leader above all others.

        2) Actually, there have been some teams throughout the years that didn’t follow “tradition.”

        3) It’s not imperative. They rallied like gangbusters last year without one. As I said, a “C” is just a formality. All the young guys know Dubi, JMFJ, etc. are the guys leading this time. You can hear it in the post-game interviews.

        My point is that this topic has been talked about ad nauseam by CBJ blogs everywhere. The team, or specifically management, has made it clear they will appoint a captain when it becomes so clear that the guy is the captain, it is merely a formality. It doesn’t sound like the locker room is losing focus or falling back to the country club days. Just let the team play out the process, as opposed to writing articles on it every month (not U&B specifically). I like the 3 A’s as it works for the team. There’s no rule anywhere saying a captain has to be designated. I just think JD knows the locker room and what’s going on with the team better than the CBJ blogosphere that keeps saying “WE NEED A CAPTAIN ALREADY.”

        • Mark Huss

          I understand what your points was, I was simply trying to defend the writer and the article.

          Listen, these writers work hard to put out material for fans to read and react to. I know they appreciate when someone comments and shares their opinion.

          On the other hand, it isn’t necessary to basically tell someone to stop writing about something. Obviously they have a strong opinion about the captain AND I know that you understand how it is to have a strong opinion about something.