As the NHL finishes up the
Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Blue Jackets are once again watching on their
televisions. However, this off-season has already been teeming with news and
rumors and it looks like it will continue to get more interesting as the
off-season progresses. Here is what’s been happening this off-season so far.
By Eric Geier
Jackets lost their founder and most faithful supporter, John H. McConnell on
April 25th, 2008. John H. McConnell was the majority owner, chairman
and governor of the Columbus Blue Jackets. He worked hard to petition the city
to get a professional hockey franchise. McConnell graduated from Michigan State
University in 1949 and went on to found Worthington Industries in 1955 using
his car as collateral to get a loan. Worthington Industries currently does over
$3 billion in business a year. With his fortune, McConnell helped to transform
Columbus as a philanthropist and businessman. He not only brought sports teams
to Columbus, but he also created the McConnell Heart Hospital and Health
Centers. He was also the architect behind numerous foundations and charities
designed to help people in and around the city. After his death a dinner was
held to celebrate his life and legacy. Blue Jackets captain Rick Nash announced
the creation of the John H. McConnell Scholarship Fund. The scholarship will be
awarded to central Ohio students who show the leadership that McConnell was so
famous for. A “JHM” patch will be worn on the back of every Blue Jacket jersey
World Championships are well underway in Halifax, Quebec. A number of Blue
Jackets players are taking part in the tournament including Rick Nash, Jason
Chimera and Pascal LeClaire playing for Team Canada, with Ken Hitchcock behind
the bench. Jan Hejda and Jiri Novotny are also playing for Team Czech Republic.
Rick Nash continued where he left off at the end of the NHL season, racking up
three goals, including a late winner against Norway. He also assisted on a
Danny Heatley game-winning goal. Goaltender Pascal LeClaire is 3-0 throughout
the tournament, notching one shutout for Canada. Team Canada will face Sweden
in the semifinals while Russia will face Finland in the opposing bracket. Jan
Hejda and Jiri Novotny had an uneventful tournament as the Czechs were beaten
by Sweden in the quarterfinals. Hejda had one goal and Novotny lit the lamp
only once while adding one assist.
Jackets sixth pick in the 2007 entry draft, Allen York was named the top
goaltender at the 2008 RBC Cup. York recorded a 4-1-0 record with a .960 save
percentage while playing for the Camrose Kodiaks, a Canadian National Junior
team based out of Alberta. At only 18 years old, York posted an 11-3-0 record
in 14 games this season on his way to the RBC Cup. His overall record in the
Alberta league is 47-9-3 with 5 shutouts. With stats like these, Allen York
will be on the Blue Jackets radar as he moves up through the juniors, to
Syracuse and hopefully, the Blue Jackets.
Jan Hejda signed a 3-year, $6 million dollar
deal. With Hejda signed on, the Jackets still have more that $15 million to
spend on new talent, minus the money or talent they will acquire with trades.
Rick Nash will be on the cover of the new NHL
2K9 video game.
The Blue Jackets are rumored to go after San
Jose star center Daniel Briere on draft day, a potential move to get another
proven star that is desperately needed for the organization.