Columbus Blue Jackets: No Captain
The ‘Shoes To Fill’ Rick Nash
For many years, Rick Nash was the only thing keeping the Columbus Blue Jackets from fading away as a franchise. An unbelievable talent, Nash never had anyone at his level to play alongside, and his position on the team was a mis-match from the start. As far as leadership goes, he can be replaced, however, no single player could duplicate the speed, skill, and scoring touch Nash possessed.
Half a point. That tie-breaking stat was the only thing that stood between the Blue Jackets and their second trip to the post-season in franchise history in 2013. They supplemented underrated skill with a work ethic that was untouchable by any other team, and were in the conversation until the very last day of the regular season, when a couple of overtime losses punched the Minnesota Wild’s ticket to the playoffs, instead of their own. This year, it’s about redemption. Putting Ohio hockey on the map. An easier conference means a bigger chance of taking that huge step, and with a lineup that remains largely unchanged, the Blue Jackets know what it will take to get there.
Forging ahead without a captain is a rare move, but perfectly logical in the situation the Blue Jackets face. In the minds of many, it comes down to two: veteran R.J. Umberger, or rising star Jack Johnson. Either player could lead the team, and one more season (or less) could be the time it takes to show which one of them is truly fit for the role. The Blue Jackets are about to take the huge step towards success, in qualifying for the playoffs, but GM Jarmo Kelkalienen has made sure that it won’t be a fluke. Whoever gets the nod will signal the beginning of the best era yet of Blue Jackets hockey, and could easily leave the team in 10 years a legend, with some hardware to back it up.