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Cannon Blasts: The new season is finally here

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All of this week’s links

NHL: JAN 04 Blue Jackets Training Camp Photo by Jason Mowry/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

We’ve waited for four long months, but this week we will finally see the Columbus Blue Jackets play real hockey games again. It felt like a longer off-season than normal. I don’t know if that’s because we didn’t know when the new season would start, or if it felt like an extension of the five month COVID break, interrupted by a few weeks of playoff hockey.

So...how are you feeling about this? Are you excited or are you having more difficulty than normal getting into “hockey mode”?

On Deck

Today, we’re likely to get news of the first wave of roster cuts following last night’s second and final scrimmage.

Tomorrow, we’ll drop our season preview episode of The Cannon Cast, which will also be our 100th episode. It’s hard to believe we’re already hitting that milestone.

On Wednesday, we’ll post our staff predictions for the season, and the first games around the league will be played, including a triple-header on NBCSN.

On Thursday night, the Jackets start their season in Nashville, with a second game against the Preds on Saturday night.

The week that was

Oliver BJORKSTRAND signed a five year contract extension. He was scheduled to be a restricted free agent this summer, and this contract covers four of his UFA seasons. This was a much needed bit of a good news after linemate Pierre-Luc Dubois reportedly requested a trade. We discussed the Dubois situation on The Cannon Cast, lamenting what it means when a player wants a higher profile that this team and market can’t provide.

The Jackets made two additional short-term signings, inking defenseman Michael Del Zotto and goalie Cam Johnson to one year, two-way contracts. It remains to be seen whether either will make the active roster, the taxi squad (which earn AHL salaries and require waivers to join, but who can practice and travel with the NHL team), or the Cleveland Monsters. Johnson will be on the taxi squad or the Monsters, but Del Zotto is very much in the mix for the third pair.

Want to get a head start on seeing the Blue Jackets play? You can watch both scrimmages for yourself here:

Of particular interest in Sunday’s scrimmage is new Jacket Mikhail Grigorenko had four points and played on the top line with Dubois and BJORKSTRAND. Also intriguing is Alexandre Texier moving to center, between fellow youngsters Liam Foudy and Emil Bemstrom.

We previewed all of the position battles here:
Forwards
Defensemen
Goalies

We also introduced the Blue Jackets to our new division opponents, and our fellow Central blogs did the same:

Detroit Red Wings
Nashville Predators
Florida Panthers
Carolina Hurricanes
Chicago Blackhawks
Dallas Stars
Tampa Bay Lightning

Play me out

Apologies if this edition of CBs is shorter than usual. I didn’t start writing until midnight because I was watching my Cleveland Browns pull off a stunning playoff win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. For some context, this was the first Browns playoff appearance in 18 years. I was a senior in high school. My nephew (a Steelers fan) is a senior in high school now and was two months away from being born when that game was played.

This marks the first Browns playoff win since January 1, 1995 against the New England Patriots. Bill Belichick was the Cleveland coach in that game. The #1 song was “On Bended Knee” by Boyz II Men.

The last time the Browns won a playoff game on the road, it was December 28, 1969 in Dallas. The #1 song then was “Someday We’ll Be Together” by Diana Ross & The Supremes.

On Sunday afternoon, the Browns will play another playoff game, this time against the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs. I don’t expect a win (I didn’t expect to beat the Steelers, either) but I’m going to keep enjoying the ride.