Thirty-Nine Days, and Counting
It’s been four long months since we last watched our beloved Blue Jackets suit up and take the ice, and while we’ve been able to witness our Ohio baseball teams stumble to the finish line, it just cannot compare to the thrills of hockey.
So far, the off-season has been brutal. Other than a couple days in late June and early July, things have been pretty quiet around the league. Significant news has been few and far between, and the same few rumors about Zubov, Kaberle, and Heatley all ran their course and and eventually fizzled.
It’s been a long four months, but fear not Jackets fans, hockey is on the way.
The turn from summer to autumn means two things in Columbus Ohio: college football, and Blue Jackets hockey. So as the first pre-season game nears, here is your update on all things CBJ.
It has been reported that Antoine Vermette is interested in re-upping with the Jackets and talks between the two sides have begun. The talented winger is coming off a year in which he tallied 13 points in only 17 games with the club. Negotiations are said to be in the primary stages.
Word from Russia is that rookie phenom Nikita Filatov has been training along side IIyl Kovalchuk of the Atlanta Thrashers and former Blue Jacket, now KHLer Nik Zherdev. Filatov is preparing to make his debut as a full time Blue Jacket in 2009 after a productive few games in ‘08. The human highlight reel will be fighting for a spot along one of the top lines once training camp begins in a couple weeks.
Rick Nash practiced along side Sidney Crosby and Jerome Iginla on the first line for Team Canada on Monday. The other four lines looked like this:
Brenden Morrow-Mike Richards-Dany Heatley
Eric Staal-Joe Thornton-Corey Perry
Milan Lucic-Vincent Lecavalier-Jeff Carter
Simon Gagne-Jonathan Toews-Martin St. Louis
Steve Mason is one of five goalies invited to Team Canada’s training camp in Calgary looking to earn one of three spots on the final roster. However, the 21 year old is up against some steep competition in veterans Roberto Luongo, Martin Brodeur, Marc-Andre Fleury and Cam Ward.
Mason led Team Canada to a gold medal at the world junior championships in 2008.
Jacket’s coach Ken Hitchkock is also in Calgary as an assistant coach under head coach Mike Babcock.
R.J. Umberger is also still in the mix for a spot on an Olympic roster. After being snubbed off the original list of 34 orientation camp invitees, Umberger, along with 40 others, is under consideration for a roster spot on Team USA pending an Olympic sanctioned drug test. A player’s performance in the first three months of the season will weigh heavily in the selection process said Team USA General Manager Brian Burke.
On Tuesday the Blue Jackets confirmed their new ECHL affiliate, the Gwinnett Gladiators. “We are very excited to add Gwinnett as our ECHL partner for this upcoming season,” Blue Jackets Assistant General Manager Chris MacFarland said in a release on Tuesday.
The Gladiators, located in Duluth Georgia, are also affiliated with the Atlanta Thrashers, which is common at this level. Columbus affiliated with the Dayton Bombers from 2000-2007, but are now with their forth team in four years since ‘07 after switching to the Elmira Jackals in 2007-08 and the Johnstown Chiefs last season.
The Columbus Chamber has commissioned a study of how to make the Blue Jackets economically viable after the team announced it had lost $80 million over the past seven years, reported the Columbus Dispatch.
The study will be conducted by former Ohio State professor of finance Steven Buser, and could be completed by early fall.
The intent of the study is to list other practical options to help the team make it back into the black.
Single game tickets go on sale Thursday September 3rd at 10pm.
It’s been a long summer, but hang in there Jackets fans, because training camp is only 17 days away.