Zach Werenski has re-signed with the Blue Jackets, John Tortorella dropped a few F-bombs in his annual chat with The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline at the onset of training camp, and Jarmo Kekalainen had a message for critics regarding his teams’ chances at Blue Jackets media day which you can check out in full right here.
So you all know what that means...hockey season is back!
There’s a lot of storylines flying around, like ‘how are the Blue Jackets possibly going to match the output lost from a few free agents over the summer?’
Going back to last year’s playoffs, as exciting as that time was, it was the break in between the Lightning sweep and the Semifinals series against the Bruins; an eight-day layoff which was essentially a week of ultimate euphoria mixed with cautious optimism when I allowed myself to think about the what if.
We knew the rumors but I didn’t care.
Matt Duchene was the type of player that I had hoped would stay. Even as it appeared more likely that he was out with the rest of them [Sergei Bobrovsky and Artemi Panarin] around the time of the draft. Even though I let myself despair for a day or so, I got over that. I don’t really care any more about him, or any of the other players that are now gone. As the summer drew on and fall inches closer, my enthusiasm for the team, maybe bridled at times but never truly diminished, is once again restored to peak optimism.
From the outside vantage point of the team, fans and experts looking in at the Blue Jackets, I get it. The pundits are right to question this team based on who they lost and how they might match the output generated from those no longer here.
Just as I have my questions about the team, we’ll soon know what this team will be like with Elvis Merzlikins and Joonas Korpisalo carrying the weight in goal. I’m really enthused to watch that battle between young goalies play out, and how Merzlikins continues to acclimate to North American ice. Maybe Korpisalo settles in as the five-year NHL pro he is and leaves his mark, knowing full-well he doesn’t have to worry about diminished ice-time because of a former Vezina winner over his shoulder.
I’m much more ready for this season, maybe more so than in previous years.
I don’t know what the barometer is on that, because the anticipation of a new season is always high for me. But we’re finally over the drama going into last season. The ‘will they say or will they go’ with Bob and Bread is a thing of the past. There seems to be a noted feistiness to just about everyone who has spoken to media, even before the early days of prospects camp last weekend.
Tortorella hasn’t hidden his feelings on just where he is with this team, and you can imagine the steam blowing between the ears whenever he, or an elder statesman of the team talks. Nick Foligno and Cam Atkinson have not shied, either, in terms of talking about this team and dismissing the outside notion of what people outside the organization think about the club.
Nick Foligno on the doubters: “Not to be rude, but a lot of them don’t have a clue what they’re talking about.” #CBJ— Mark Scheig (@markscheig) September 11, 2019
Look. I am full-on ready for the growing pains this season.
It would be naive to think this team won’t struggle without the type of prolific scoring Panarin provides. It will be an adjustment for guys that he helped prop up, such as a Pierre-Luc Dubois. Alexandre Texier looks like he could be a really good pro at the NHL level for the Blue Jackets. Who knows, he might take off, similar to Dubois. But I’m very eager for the season to get going and to just watch everything unfold.
I knew that a day after Bobrovsky and Panarin loomed and I wasn’t sure what to make of a team in impending transition. Yet, I think anyone expecting a major fall off a cliff excursion — ya know, like the time Homer jumped Springfield Gorge in The Simpsons’ Bart the Daredevil — because of the mass off-season exodus are mistaken.
Maybe I’m looking at it with fan-goggles. It’s possible that the kool-aid the team is selling is thick, and that no matter what, I’m just excited as ever and ready to see what this team does. But the turmoil throughout the last season is finally behind us, more importantly behind the team.
I’m also really excited about covering the Blue Jackets for The Cannon as we enter year three together. I wrote my first article, an introductory piece about myself on Sept. 6, 2017, and exactly two years ago today, the 15th, I put up the training camp news, schedule, and info article. In that span, the Blue Jackets have qualified for the playoffs twice, advancing a little further both years — No, I’m not taking credit for playoffs coinciding with my time here.
We’ve launched a podcast The Cannon Cast, talked to those in and around the Blue Jackets including FOX Sports Ohio color commentator Jody Shelley, new FOX Sports Ohio studio analyst for the pre and postgame, Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre, The Columbus Dispatch’s Brian Hedger, and many more in the coming future. It’s been real fun, and I know that we as a writing team, and the Blue Jackets in general, have only scratched the surface of the potential that is there. So I thank you, the readers, the staff, and everyone who has read and listened over the past few seasons.
Cheers to a fun season ahead.