DAL @ CBJ: Lather, Rinse, Win?

After eschewing them last Saturday, the reports are, whammy or no whammy, the Jackets will wear their new third jerseys again tonight.

How to shake off the curse? And, for that matter, to break the bad luck that the first two "alumni nights" have had?

Well, how about getting the most successful Blue Jacket from the pre-Rick Nash era to stop by?

That's right - tonight we will have the man they called Shampoo on our side.

If you didn't follow the team in the first few seasons, you may not recall the powerful Norwegian center, a skilled playmaker who was the franchise's first All-Star before Rick Nash inherited the honor - and who still owns the franchise record for assists in a single game with five helpers in one match against the Calgary Flames.

He introduced soccer to the pre-game warmups, brought an incredible level of toughness to the game, played through injuries, and though he never served as captain, he was always a leader on and off the ice.

Perhaps that's why it's so cruel that the reason most sports fans, if they recognized his name at all, would associate him with a tragic memory - the death of Brittany Cecil.

Nine years ago, making a routine slap shot, the puck rebounded off a defender's stick, and the puck left the playing surface and struck the thirteen year old Cecil in the head, causing an injury that would lead to her death. Afterward, the NHL responded by requiring nets around the ice in all NHL rinks to prevent this from happening again, but it is a truly unfortunate footnote for the franchise - perhaps the darkest note in its' history.

One of the surprising things that was brought up on the last anniversary of Brittany's death, when the Dispatch ran an article about her family, ten years later, was that the family never had a chance to meet with Knutsen - particularly since Knutsen admitted in a companion interview that he still felt a great deal of guilt over the incident.

Last night, with Knutsen back in Columbus for the first time since the end of his NHL career, that was remedied.

The meeting was a moment of healing for both families, and perhaps it goes a little bit toward easing that touch of bad karma off of the Blue Jackets' collective shoulders.

The puck drops at 7pm tonight as the Jackets take on the Stars, and it's a bit older, wiser, and hopefully happier Shampoo who will make the ceremonial puck drop before heading off the ice to cheer his old team on once again.

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