I have been meaning to write an appreciation piece about Jakub Voracek for months now, as I very quickly in the season developed a warm, glowing admiration for this man as I watched him interact with teammates, coaches, and his family. It’s abundantly clear that he is a hockey player everyone enjoys playing with and being around.
I loved some of the anecdotes shared by teammates during his 1000th game celebration - it’s so evident that everyone deeply respects him while simultaneously getting a big kick out of him. That my favorite NHL mascot (Gritty) was modeled after Voracek only makes perfect sense.
Voracek wasn’t a completely new kid on the block when the season started - famously, he’d started his career in Columbus when he was drafted in 2007, staying here for three seasons before starting his 10-season stint in Philly in 2011. He didn’t skip a beat when he returned to Columbus this year, notching a team-high 56 assists (62 points) in 79 games played.
In his post-season media availability, Voracek praised his teammates for their persistence and hard work - he noted his closeness with Patrik Laine, with whom he spent more time on the ice than any other player.
Also, he was one of my favorite players to shoot, for reasons I don’t even feel like I need to explain. Here are a few examples:
What a mood. A whole mood. pic.twitter.com/zf23zd95mu— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) March 6, 2022
We'd take 1000 more games of this flow pic.twitter.com/uTvPSyv4Jf— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) January 9, 2022
Games played: 79
5v5 CF%: 54.7%
5v5 FF%: 53.4%
Since the stunning (to Cam) hockey trade last summer that sent Atkinson to Philly and brought Jake right back to his Columbus NHL roots, Jake will become a UFA at the end of the 2023-24 season at the age of 34.
For me, Voracek’s high point this season was his recognition during his 1000th game in the NHL. As I mentioned earlier, I loved witnessing all the love and stories that poured in from around the league about playing with Voracek. I often photograph near the Zamboni tunnel during pregame warmups, and Voracek’s partner and children are nearly always there watching - his son clutching a Gritty plushie while he waits for his dad to skate by and smile at him. It was great to see Voracek celebrated for 1000 games (a milestone only 369 other NHL players have reached) in the city where his NHL career started.
Voracek recorded a career low six goals this season, which was uncharacteristic but not necessarily bad, in my opinion - especially considering he was the team high for points and assists. The whole reason the CBJ brought him on was to assist Laine and others in scoring, so he’s doing a great job in that regard. Next season, I’d love to see him score more goals - for his sake especially! I know he wants it.
I’m giving him a B+! The only thing that keeps me from an A is the career-low six goals. I love having him back in Columbus and I’m looking forward to watching him continue to flourish next season. What grade would you give Jakub Voracek for this past season?
Grade Jakub Voracek’s 2021-22 season
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