The Five Greatest Single Seasons by a CBJ Goaltender

Jun 21, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky wins the Vezina Trophy during the 2017 NHL Awards and Expansion Draft at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 21, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky wins the Vezina Trophy during the 2017 NHL Awards and Expansion Draft at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports /
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The first season in Blue Jacket history was memorable for a variety of reasons. Obviously, things like first goal in franchise history, or first win, or first home win all stand out. But, that season also brought us the first face of the franchise: goaltender Ron Tugnutt.

#5: Ron Tugnutt’s Expansion (Presidential?) Campaign

By the time “Tugger” was selected by the Blue Jackets at the expansion draft, he had already played for six different NHL teams over the previous twelve seasons. At every stop along the way, he was a beloved, charismatic guy who never really seemed to get a chance to shine as a starter. Call him an underdog. When he arrived in Columbus, he went from underdog to day one starter. The hope and promise of a brand new expansion team was laid upon his shoulders, and all he did was embrace the challenge – and steal the whole show.

If you look back at that original Columbus roster, you’ll see a team that had no business being as good as they were. But by the time the season was over, the team had a respectable record of 28-39-6 (with 9 ties); finishing their first year with 71 points. They were led offensively by two guys who would have probably been better suited on a second or even third line (Geoff Sanderson and Espen Knutsen).

At the end of the season, the third leading scorers on the roster were Tyler Wright and 25 year old rookie David Vyborny, who scored just 32 points apiece. On defense, they were rolling out castaways such as Jamie Heward, Deron Quint, Petteri Nummelin, and a 32 year old enforcer (and team captain) named Lyle Odelein.

ST. LOUIS – JANUARY 3: Goaltender Ron Tugnutt #31 of the Columbus Blue Jackets looks on in goal against the St. Louis Blues during the game at Savvis Center in St. Louis, Missouri on January 3, 2002. The Blues won 4-2. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images/NHLI)
ST. LOUIS – JANUARY 3: Goaltender Ron Tugnutt #31 of the Columbus Blue Jackets looks on in goal against the St. Louis Blues during the game at Savvis Center in St. Louis, Missouri on January 3, 2002. The Blues won 4-2. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images/NHLI) /

But what filled the seats, aside from the excitement of something new, was Ron Tugnutt. The entire city rallied around him. The beloved underdog took his game to a new level when he got here. The “Tugnutt for President” campaign became something for the marketing team to really work with, bridging the gap between the younger, hip hockey fans of the city; and the older, more conservative fans as well.

By the time it was all said and done, Tugger finished the season with 22 wins, on the back of a sparkling .917% save percentage and 2.44 goals against average. While he was never able to replicate that fantastic first year in Columbus; it was a magical campaign that gave us hope for a bright future with our exciting new team.