Nobody signifies heart and soul to the Blue Jackets as much as captain Boone Jenner. Regardless the opponent, the task, the time of the game, or the level of competition joining him in the battle, we can always count on Boone to be Boone each and every single night. This year was no exception.
Before the season started, there were talks that the Jackets might give Boone a lighter workload this season, with the odd second half of the back-to-back off, or occasional rest periods. Ultimately, that wasn’t the case, with Boone playing every single game until breaking his hand in mid-December. He would then do the exact same after coming back a month later – playing every game until April 8th, when his back issues kept him out of the lineup for the final week of the year.
In the end, Boone played 68 games for the Jackets, which was good enough for him to lead the team in goals (26), four ahead of the next highest total on the team. He did so pretty consistently; mostly scoring the kinds of goals you would expect him to score, battling in front of the net for deflections or greasy goals. There were no big stretches of him scoring in bunches (save one stretch where he had six goals in five games) – and he did not score a hat-trick this season. He did score this beauty though, and we would be remiss if we didn’t bring it up:
Boone is probably the most reliable player the Blue Jackets have, almost to a fault. He’s probably best suited on the third line, where he’s spent much of his career as a banging winger that can chip in secondary offense. But the situation in Columbus meant that he started the year as the team’s de facto top line center. Unfortunately for the Jackets, nobody was able to knock Boone off of that perch, and he finished the year in that same spot.
Even though he chipped in 26 goals, you can’t rely on him to continue to be the top line center for this team, if they are going to contend for anything other than a lottery pick. That isn’t meant to be a knock on Boone, it’s just a fact. More so, what this says about Boone is that you can plug him into any place on this roster, and he’s going to find a way to be successful – in this case, to the point where he again beat his body up to get the job done.
He was often out-matched this season by the opposition’s top talent, and while he did a great job leading the Jackets in every aspect – mentally, physically, and even goal scoring – getting him back into a place where he’s playing against middle-six players, in middle-six minutes, is one of the first tasks of business for Jarmo Kekalainen this summer.
Final season stats: 68 games played, 26 goals, 19 assists, 45 points, 51 PIMS, -32, 214 shots on goal. Overall grade: B
Jenner is the grease that turns the Blue Jacket wheel, and if he comes back next season ready to fill a depth role on this team, they are in great shape. However, if he comes back next season penciled in as the top line center, be prepared for another year of pain and heartache. Even playing well above his head, on a line with Johnny Gaudreau, this is more ice time and productivity than we can expect from a guy who will be 30 years old, with all of the wear and tear on his body. He deserves a chance to lead this team into a playoff series, and it’s up to management to start working in that direction.