The best season on record. The first every playoff win. Franchise record-setting wins and points. Not much more can be done than what the Columbus Blue Jackets accomplished this season. It sure was quite the ride!
This is one of only a few seasons where the Jackets weren’t in the draft lottery or on the short list of teams likely to be heavy in the trade market. This season was the first time I felt like the Jackets came together as a team, and a team that can last. A team that can play together for a long time without many changes.
And, surprisingly, it was a season in which the Jackets played with virtually no big-name, all-star players. Starting in 2002, the Jackets had Rick Nash as an all-star player in their lineup, and later as their captain. Nash was one of, if not the best player on the Jackets’ roster while he was here, but both he and the franchise needed to move on.
Then there was Jeff Carter. He was touted as an all-star player who could come here and make a difference on this team. But he had other plans. Right from the start Carter made it known he didn’t want to play here, and he certainly didn’t. It was evident that he didn’t play to his full potential for Columbus, and he was eventually traded. That failed.
Then, there was Marian Gaborik. He was the next all-star hope for the Jackets. He came in as a potential 40-goal scorer, but that didn’t happen here. His play was measly at best, then he was injured. Then he played a few minutes and got injured again, before being traded and joining Carter in LA. Another all-star hope dashed.
Lastly, there’s Nathan Horton. He was less than impressive once he came back from injury this season, and got injured again at the end of the season. He only registered a disappointing 4 goals in 35 games this season. I’m not saying he needs to be traded, but he certainly needs to step it up next season.
Moreover, this is the first full season the Jackets played without a captain, and it certainly went pretty well. There are a few players who have stood out as leaders on the team, and a few who look like they can become all-star players at some point, but at this point there is not clear leader.In my opinion, that’s a good thing. Having no one player that carries the team makes it more of a team effort. It makes everyone work hard, and makes them come together as a team. No captain, no big-namers, no problem. Best season in franchise history.
Overall, the legacy of the Jackets this season is that young guys with no leader can make things happen. The Jackets were one of the youngest team in the league this year, and they can only get better. There is a lot of young talent on the team and in the franchise, and a lot of talent to be developed. I, for one, think the management is on to something not naming a captain and letting the young guys show what they can do. In the next few seasons, hopefully we’ll see that that’s right.