A Look Back: The 2000-2001 Columbus Blue Jackets


In 1997, the National Hockey League granted an expansion team to the great state of Ohio. This team, who we all now know and love, would be named the Columbus Blue Jackets. The reasoning behind the name was to celebrate the pride surrounding the rich Civil War history of the state. The Jackets would name Doug MacLean as the first General Manager. MacLean, as coach of the Florida Panthers, led his team to the to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1996. The first Head Coach of the CBJ would be Dave King. King had previously been the head coach of the Calgary Flames from 1992-1995 and was an assistant with the Montreal Canadiens from 1997-1999.

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This Columbus Blue Jackets rookie doesn't want to be forgotten
This Columbus Blue Jackets rookie doesn't want to be forgotten /

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  • On June 23, 2000, the two newest additions to the National Hockey League, the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Minnesota Wild, would participate in the NHL Expansion Draft. With their first pick, the Jackets would select goaltender

    Rick Tabaracci

    from the Colorado Avalanche. The Jackets would go on to select

    Dwayne Roloson


    Lyle Odelein


    Geoff Sanderson

    , and

    Tyler Wright

    among others. On the very next day, Columbus selected

    Rotislav Klesla

    with the 4th pick in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft. With that, the roster was set, Nationwide Arena was ready, and Columbus was about to experience NHL hockey for the first time.

    The first regular season game for Columbus came against the Chicago Blackhawks on October 7, 2000. Bruce Gardiner would score the first regular season goal in franchise history at the 7:34 mark of the first period, but the Jackets would go on to lose 5-3. The first win in franchise history would come on October 12, 2000, as the Jackets would defeat the Calgary Flames 3-2. The first shutout in team history would come on December 18th, 2000, as Ron Tugnutt made 27 saves against the Montreal Canadiens. Unfortunately the Jackets, like many expansion teams, would struggle in their first season, finishing 28-39-9-6.

    Notable Achievements

    Geoff Sanderson would record not just the first 30 goal season in franchise history, scoring exactly 30 and  leading the team in points with 56, but he also holds the first hat trick in franchise history, which he did on February 10, 2001 in a 3-2 win over Nashville.

    Espen Knutsen led the Jackets in assists with 42. The first Captain in Jackets history was Lyle Odelein, who recorded three goals and 14 assists in the team’s inaugural year. Ron Tugnutt set the record with the most for an expansion team in the teams first year of competition with 22. The Jackets would finish 5th in the Central and 13th in the Western Conference, one spot ahead of the Minnesota Wild.

    What are your memories of the inaugural team, or even the announcement that there was going to be a team? Let us know in a comment below or on twitter @UnionandBlue.