Blue Jackets Owed It to the League, to the Fans and to Themselves to ‘Go For It’
Columbus made arguably the biggest move at the trade deadline when they acquired speedy winger Marian Gaborik from the New York Rangers.
The franchise looked destined for another low finish, and were bottom of the West when Scott Howson was fired as the teams General Manager on February 12th. What has happened since then has been nothing short of remarkable; and the move for Gaborik was absolutely the right thing to do.
First off; why wouldn’t Columbus want Marian Gaborik? Despite a sub par year in New York, he is one of the NHL’s most recognisable names. He instantly gives the franchise both a legitimate scorer and a new poster boy to replace former Captain Rick Nash.
Nash’s departure last summer was inevitable. But still a dagger in the hearts of the small but loyal fan base which has stood by the team through some difficult times.
Columbus is not a poor market – the NHL was not on a hiding to nothing by going there. Ohio likes its sports and the area around the arena has its share of bars, stores and other attractions. The team owners want to be in Columbus.
However the on ice product has often left much to be desired and attendances have reflected this at times. One play-off appearance, which resulted in being swept, is not what people hoped for when the team started its NHL tenure in 2000.
But with the team starting to perform on the ice, and oPresident of Hockey Operations John Davidson and new GM Jarmo Kekalainen looking to forge a new culture at the club, the time was ripe to inspire the fan base again.
Acquiring Gaborik did that.
It was a move that told the hockey world that Columbus was serious – that its recent run was not some flash in the pan and that they want to be a play-off team.
Best of all, they did it without giving up a single one of their three first round picks at this summers draft!
(NOTE – Adding Blake Comeau didn’t exactly hurt the team either).
It would have been easy to sit on their hands, feel good about the good run of form the club had and marvel at Sergei Bobrovsky’s amazing play. But they went for it – and that is brilliant news for everyone.
The franchise is arguably in the best place it has ever been. They have a star player to rally behind, a netminder they hope to hang their hat on for years to come and the aforementioned first round picks. The move East under next seasons realignment won’t hurt either and after years in the basement, the Blue Jackets are signalling their intentions to be a post season player – both now, and in the future.
Ohio is suddenly a much more exciting place for the NHL.