| Columbus Blue Jackets|
The Columbus Blue Jackets are a professional ice hockey team based in Columbus, Ohio, United States. They are members of the Central Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League (NHL). Preceded in Ohio's capital by the Columbus Chill of the ECHL, the Blue Jackets were founded as an expansion team in 2000. In their seven seasons, they have never finished higher than third place in their division and are the only active NHL team to have never qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Blue Jackets' name and logos are rooted in Ohio's rich Civil War history. Rick Nash, David Vyborny, Ray Whitney, and Nikolai Zherdev are some of the prominent NHL figures to have donned a Columbus sweater. Ken Hitchcock has been their coach since late 2006, and current general manager Scott Howson started in 2007. The Blue Jackets play their home games in downtown Columbus at Nationwide Arena, which opened in 2000.
Building a new franchise (1997–2000)Edit
After the Cleveland Barons left in 1978, Ohio's hockey fans had to wait 22 years to host another NHL team. Columbus entered an expansion bid in 1997, along with several other cities. The voters of Columbus were considering a referendum to build a publicly financed arena, a major step toward approval of their NHL bid. When NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman visited Columbus to meet with the community's leaders about the franchise proposal, there was concern that the voters might not pass the needed referendum. The civic leaders told Bettman that they would not be willing to foot the bill for the team if the referendum failed. However, just after the meeting adjourned, John H. McConnell (one of those who entered the bid) privately guaranteed Bettman that an arena would be built, referendum or not.
Columbus's hopes for the bid dimmed when the May referendum failed. However, Nationwide announced on May 31, 1997, that it would finance the $150-million arena. Subsequently, on June 25, 1997, the NHL announced that Columbus would receive a new franchise.
On June 23, 2000, the NHL's two newest teams, the Blue Jackets and the Minnesota Wild, took part in the 2000 NHL Expansion Draft in Calgary, Alberta. Under the draft's rules, 26 of the NHL's active 28 teams were allowed to protect one goaltender, five defensemen, and nine forwards, or two goaltenders, three defensemen, and seven forwards. The Atlanta Thrashers and Nashville Predators both had their full rosters protected because they were the two newest teams, only being in existence for one and two years, respectively. Both the Blue Jackets and Wild had to use their first 24 selections on three goaltenders, eight defensemen, and thirteen forwards. Their final two picks could be players of any position.
With the first-overall choice, the Blue Jackets selected goaltender Rick Tabaracci from the Colorado Avalanche. Over the course of the draft, Columbus picked up goalie Dwayne Roloson, defensemen Lyle Odelein and Mathieu Schneider, and forwards Geoff Sanderson, Turner Stevenson, and Dallas Drake, among others. Instead of joining Columbus, Roloson signed with the American Hockey League's Worcester IceCats, Schneider left for the Los Angeles Kings, and the St. Louis Blues signed Drake. Columbus also traded Stevenson to the New Jersey Devils to complete an earlier transaction.
The Blue Jackets and Wild were granted concessions by some franchises who could not protect their full rosters. The San Jose Sharks traded Jan Caloun, a ninth-round pick in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, and a 2001 conditional pick to Columbus; in return, the Blue Jackets agreed not to select the Sharks' unprotected goaltender Evgeni Nabokov. The following day, June 24, at the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, Columbus selected Rostislav Klesla fourth overall.
The Blue Jackets played their first regular-season game on October 7, 2000, a 5–3 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks. Bruce Gardiner scored the franchise's first goal. Columbus finished with a 28–39–9–6 record for 71 points, last in the Central Division, and failed to qualify for the playoffs. Geoff Sanderson became the first player in team history to score 30 goals. Ron Tugnutt, who was signed in the summer of 2000, supplied solid goaltending with 22 wins, which set the NHL record for wins by an expansion-team goalie.
The Blue Jackets finished next-to-last in the NHL in the following season, with only 57 points. Ray Whitney, acquired from the Florida Panthers the previous season, led the team in scoring with 61 points, setting a franchise record. Tragedy struck the Blue Jackets organization in March 2002 when 13-year-old Brittanie Cecil was killed after an errant shot by Espen Knutsen struck her in the head while she was in the stands at Nationwide Arena. As a result of her death, large nylon mesh nets are installed behind the goals in all NHL arenas to shield spectators from pucks going over the glass. The team also wore small red hearts with the initials "BNC" on their helmets.
During the offseason, the Blue Jackets traded a second-round pick (32nd overall) and Tugnutt to the Dallas Stars. In return, Columbus received Dallas's first-round pick (20th overall) in the 2002 draft. On the morning of the draft, Columbus traded the third-overall pick and the option to flip draft spots in 2003 to the Florida Panthers; in return Columbus received the first-overall pick, which they used to select Rick Nash.
The 2002–03 season started with Columbus putting up a 7–5–1–1 record after the first 14 games. However, as expectations from their fans grew higher, the team came back to mediocrity, finishing last in the Central Division for the third consecutive season and missing the playoffs once again. Dave King, who had been the team's head coach since their debut in 2000, was fired midseason and replaced by general manager Doug MacLean. Marc Denis was named starting goalie; he played a franchise-record 77 games that season and set an NHL record with 4,511 minutes played in 2002-03. He tied for second all-time for games played in a season by a goaltender, just two shy of the NHL record held by St. Louis's Grant Fuhr in the 1995–96 season.
The 2003–04 season was another losing season for the Blue Jackets despite key additions in the offseason. Checking center Todd Marchant was signed to a five-year contract in July from the Edmonton Oilers. Defenseman Darryl Sydor, known to play strong offense as well, was acquired from the Dallas Stars for Mike Sillinger and a draft pick. MacLean stepped aside as head coach midway through the season, giving way to Gerard Gallant. The Blue Jackets finished with just 62 points (the second-lowest total in their short history), but it was enough to help them break out of last place in the Central Division for the first time, finishing ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks. Nash was one of the few bright spots for the team; his 41 goals tied Jarome Iginla and Ilya Kovalchuk for the Rocket Richard Trophy (as NHL leader in goals scored).
In the 2004 off-season, the NHL Players' Association and the NHL's administration failed to renew their collective bargaining agreement. September 14, 2004 marked the beginning of the lockout of the 2004-05 season. No games were played and the Stanley Cup was not awarded for the first time since the flu epidemic of 1919. An agreement was made on July 13, 2005 and the lockout officially ended nine days later on July 22, 2005.
In the summer of 2005, rugged Colorado Avalanche defenseman Adam Foote agreed to a three-year deal with the team. Heading into the 2005–06 season, it appeared the Blue Jackets would finally take the next step and make the playoffs. Instead, injuries to Nash, Klesla, and Gilbert Brule, the team's 2005 first-round pick, led to the team putting up a dismal 9–25–1 record through its first 35 games. Superstar Sergei Fedorov was acquired from the Anaheim Mighty Ducks; Anaheim received Tyler Wright and Francois Beauchemin, and later claimed Todd Marchant off waivers. While again failing to make the playoffs, Columbus did manage to improve. They had the best overtime record in the NHL (14–4) and finished the season with franchise records for wins (35) and points (74). For the first time ever, they earned a third-place finish in the Central Division, behind Detroit and Nashville.
2006-2007 saw several changes made to the team. In the offseason, Marc Denis was dealt to the Tampa Bay Lightning for forward Fredrik Modin and goaltending prospect Fredrik Norrena, making way for Pascal Leclaire to take the starting job. The Blue Jackets also signed Anson Carter when it looked as if Nikolai Zherdev would be playing the season in Russia; in late September, however, Zherdev and General Manager Doug MacLean and Zherdev were able to reach a compromise. Partway through the season, on November 13, 2006, Gerard Gallant was relieved of his duties as head coach. The next day, Gary Agnew was named his interim replacement. On November 22, Ken Hitchcock, former coach of the Dallas Stars and Philadelphia Flyers, was named the new head coach, effective the following day. Under Hitchcock's first year, two milestones were set: on December 10, 2006, the Blue Jackets scored a team-record five power-play goals against the Ottawa Senators in a 6–2 win., and on April 3, 2007, the Blue Jackets broke the modern-day record for most times being shut-out in a season (16) with a 3–0 loss to the Detroit Red Wings.
On April 18, 2007, Doug MacLean, the team's first general manager and president, was fired after nine years and six seasons at the helm without a playoff berth. Mike Priest, President of Blue Jackets parent company JMAC, Inc., was named President of the club, while Assistant General Manager Jim Clark served as General Manager until the Blue Jackets named Edmonton Oilers Assistant General Manager Scott Howson as the new general manager on June 15.
The 2007-2008 season, the club's first full season under Hitchcock, started off well as the Jackets got off to their best start in franchise history, starting with a 4-0 shutout of the defending Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks. At the trade deadline on February 26, 2008, however, apparently unable to agree on a new contract and amid some controversy, Blue Jackets captain Adam Foote requested a trade to the Colorado Avalanche, which was granted. The Jackets received a pair of conditional picks in return. A month later, on March 12, 2008, former Blue Jackets number-one draft pick Rick Nash was named the new team captain. Despite this, Columbus managed its best season record to date, staying above .500 until the very last game of the season and finishing fourth in the Central Division with 80 points.
On July 9, 2008, the Blue Jackets announced they signed Hitchcock to a three-year extension to remain as head coach.
The name "Blue Jackets" was chosen to celebrate "patriotism, pride, and the rich American Civil War history in the state of Ohio and city of Columbus. When President Abraham Lincoln requested that Ohio raise ten regiments at the outbreak of the Civil War, the state responded by raising a total of 23 volunteer infantry regiments for three months of service. Ohio also produced a number of great Civil War figures, including William Tecumseh Sherman, Ulysses S. Grant, Philip Sheridan, and George Custer. Columbus itself was host to large military bases, Camp Chase and Camp Thomas, which saw hundreds of thousands of Union soldiers and thousands of Confederate prisoners during the Civil War.
The team logo is a stylized version of the flag of Ohio. Previously used as an alternate logo, it became the primary logo as part of a Reebok-sponsored redesign for the 2007–08 season. The team's sweaters feature an alternate logo, a Civil War cap with crossed hockey sticks, on the shoulders.
On FSN Ohio, Jeff Rimer serves as the television play-by-play announcer alongside analyst Danny Gare, a former NHL player who had his number retired by the Buffalo Sabres. On radio stations WWCD, WBNS, and 29 other affiliates in Ohio, George Matthews and Bill Davidge provide audio coverage. Matthews has been calling Blue Jackets games since the team's inception in 2000. Rimer started calling games on television in 2005, and Gare joined him in 2006.
FSN Ohio, which broadcasts 75 games per season, airs pre-game and post-game shows for each game, hosted by Jim Day, Bill Davidge, and Jeff Hogan. The host of the radio pre- and post-game shows is Mark Wyant. Fans can interact by email and phone with the radio personalties during and after the game.
This is a partial list of the last five seasons completed by the Blue Jackets. For the full season-by-season history, see Columbus Blue Jackets seasons
Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, OTL = Overtime Losses, Pts = Points, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against, PIM = Penalties in minutes
Records as of June 4, 2008.
|2003–04||82||25||45||8||4||62||177||238||1198||4th, Central||Did not qualify|
|2004–05||Season canceled due to 2004–05 NHL lockout|
|2005–061||82||35||43||—||4||74||223||279||1416||3rd, Central||Did not qualify|
|2006–07||82||33||42||—||7||73||201||249||1337||4th, Central||Did not qualify|
|2007–08||82||34||36||—||12||80||193||218||1325||4th, Central||Did not qualify|
|Totals||492||172||258||33||29||406||1165||1515||7888||—||0 playoff appearances|
- 1 As of the 2005–06 NHL season, all games tied after overtime are decided in a shootout; SOL (shootout losses) are recorded as OTL in the standings.
Updated April 10, 2010.
The Blue Jackets have not had any members of the Hockey Hall of Fame associated with their organization.
The Blue Jackets have yet to retire any of their own numbers.
First-round draft picksEdit
- 2000: Rostislav Klesla (fourth overall)
- 2001: Pascal Leclaire (eighth overall)
- 2002: Rick Nash (first overall)
- 2003: Nikolai Zherdev (fourth overall)
- 2004: Alexandre Picard (eighth overall)
- 2005: Gilbert Brule (sixth overall)
- 2006: Derick Brassard (sixth overall)
- 2007: Jakub Voracek (seventh overall)
- 2008: Nikita Filatov (sixth overall)
Franchise scoring leadersEdit
These are the top-ten point-scorers in franchise history as of the 2007–08 NHL season.
Note: Pos = Position; GP = Games Played; G = Goals; A = Assists; Pts = Points; P/G = Points per game; * = current Blue Jackets player
NHL awards and trophiesEdit
- Rick Nash: 2003–04 (shared with Ilya Kovalchuk of the Atlanta Thrashers and Jarome Iginla of the Calgary Flames)
- Points: Ray Whitney (2002–03) — 76
- Goals: Rick Nash (2003–04) — 41
- Assists: Ray Whitney (2002–03) — 52
- Game-winning goals: Geoff Sanderson (2000–01)
- Penalty minutes: Jody Shelley (2002–03) — 249
- Plus/Minus: Jan Hejda (2007–08) — +20
- Points by a defenseman: Jaroslav Spacek (2002–03) — 45
- Points by a rookie: Rick Nash (2002–03) — 39
- Wins: Marc Denis (2002–03) — 27
- Shutouts in a season: Pascal Leclaire (2007–08) — 9
- Goals against average: Pascal Leclaire (2007–08) — 2.25
- Save percentage: Pascal Leclaire (2007–08) — .919
- Saves: Marc Denis (2002–03) — 2,172
- Longest shutout streak (time without allowing a goal): Fredrik Norrena combined with Pascal Leclaire (2006–07) — 166:06 (155:28 and 10:38, respectively)