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Jack Johnson is a champion: Off-season open thread

The Stanley Cup was awarded to the Colorado Avalanche last night, and for the second year in a row we saw a long-time Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman hoist the Cup with a new team. Making this one more remarkable is it was Jack Johnson, who somehow had never won a playoff series in the first 15 seasons of his career, in six attempts.

I know it’s fun to joke about JJ because his departure here wasn’t pretty, and because Pittsburgh comically overpaid him, but he was an important figure for this franchise as it rebuilt from a low point. MrSwift wrote well about it in our Jackets 20 series. I’m really happy for him to reach this moment, especially considering he entered camp on a tryout contract. A season later, he reached the 1000 game mark and won a ring. Not a bad way to cap off a career.

Credit as well to former Jacket Ryan Murray, minor league coach Jared Bednar, and former assistant GM Chris MacFarland. Hopefully we get “Blue Jackets” etched on the Cup with some of the current players involved.

It’s officially the off-season now! Here are the important dates you need to know:

Thursday, July 7: Round 1 of the NHL Draft
Friday, July 8: Rounds 2-7 of the NHL Draft
Monday, July 11: Deadline for qualifying offers
Wednesday, July 13: Free agency begins
Sunday, July 17/Monday, July 18: Deadline for player/team elected arbitration
September 15-19: Traverse City prospects tournament

Use this space to talk about any CBJ or league news that comes up between now and the draft, or anything else that suits your fancy.

We’ll post fresh open threads throughout the looooooong off-season as necessary, and of course we’ll have plenty of draft and free agency content in the coming weeks, as it’s possible the Jackets could be poised to make a big splash again.