The Columbus Blue Jackets are having one of their best season starts in the history of the franchise, and many characters have a hand in that happening - but captain Boone Jenner has certainly been leading the charge.
There were some mumblings and grumblings after his announcement (definitely not from me, I’ve always been a Boone fan, as documented in many places across our site) but perhaps some of the skepticism was warranted - his last few seasons were a little lackluster and injury-riddled.
However, the newly appointed C on his chest seems to have elicited a new level of play from him.
This is excellent news, as the Jackets ended their 2020-21 season in disarray - with long-term captain Nick Foligno traded away to Toronto, John Tortorella out as head coach, Cam Atkinson to the Flyers, and a flurry of other moves and shake-ups that left a vacuum in the team’s chemistry into which the team could have either sank or grown up and out from. Fortunately, right now, we’re looking at the latter!
Jenner already has six goals in 10 games, so he’s very nearly surpassed his 8 goals from his entire 41-game 2020-21 season in the first quarter of this current season.
He’s had multiple Main Character Moments so far this season, perhaps most notably when he took it into his own hands to pull out a W in New Jersey on October 31, securing a tie game in an enormous individual effort, resulting in a consequent overtime chance in which Jakub Voracek sealed the deal.
Where did this new confidence and swagger come from? I personally think he’s always had it in him, but the new team dynamic and chemistry has created the perfect storm in which he’s able to be the leader he was always capable of being.
Bolstered by his alternates, Zach Werenski, Oliver Bjorkstrand, and Gustav Nyquist, Boone does an excellent job of representing the team on and off the ice - he’s measured, well-spoken, and self-aware in his media availabilities.
The Blue Jackets suffered an unimaginable tragedy this summer, in which goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks was killed in a horrible, sudden accident. To bring a team together and perform well just months after this tragedy was a tall order, and I wasn’t sure how the team would handle it. One of the most touching moments of this season so far was the ceremonial puck drop with Matiss’s family before the first home game, and this moment cemented for me that Boone is absolutely suited to be the leader of this team, on and off the ice.
So anyways, Boone’s our guy - if he keeps up his current goal-scoring pace, we’re looking at a 49.2 goal regular season out of him. Wouldn’t that be a treat!
Here’s to many more excellent games out of Boone this season.