Updated October 2018.
Columbus joined the National Hockey League in 2000. The winning name, chosen by a name-the-team contest, represents Ohio’s patriotic contributions during the Civil War. More Union soldiers hailed from Ohio than any other state and many of the blue jackets worn as part of their uniforms were made in Columbus.
At the 2002 draft, the Blue Jackets selected forward Rick Nash first overall. Nash quickly became the face of the franchise. He tied for the league lead in goal scoring in 2003-04, but even his offense couldn’t help the Jackets reach the postseason.
Columbus finally made the playoffs in 2008-09, though their run was short-lived. The team was eliminated in a four-game sweep by the eventual Western Conference champion Detroit Red Wings. Goaltender Steve Mason was a major part of the team’s success that season. He won the Calder Trophy as the league’s rookie of the year and was nominated for the Vezina. Sadly, he was unable to maintain his high level of play. The team’s performance slipped, as did Mason’s, and they missed the playoffs the following season.
The team rebuilt their lineup in 2012, acquiring blueliner Jack Johnson and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, while sending captain Rick Nash to the New York Rangers.
The league realigned during the summer of 2013 and sent Columbus, along with Detroit, to the Eastern Conference. Columbus – led by the Vezina-winning Bobrovsky – returned to the postseason the following year, but again lost in the opening round. They missed the playoffs by just nine points in 2015.
Columbus was a team believed to be heading toward greatness in 2015-16, but again missed out on the playoffs. The club, which traded forward Ryan Johansen for up-and-coming defenseman Seth Jones earlier in the year, drafted third overall and selected Pierre-Luc Dubois, a talented left winger currently playing in the QMJHL.
However, 2016-17 brought winds of change to the franchise, as head coach John Tortorella led the team to its best finish in history, posting 108 points and finishing third in the Metropolitan Division. The reward? Facing the defending Stanley Cup-champion Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round, who took the series, four games to one.
After another strong finish in 2018, the Blue Jackets again lost to the eventual-Cup champions, the Washington Capitals, in the Eastern quarterfinal. Columbus finds itself in a situation where stars Bobrovsky and Artemi Panarin are free agents at season’s end, so they must battle for the franchise’s first Stanley Cup Final appearance, or start yet another rebuild.
Feature photo courtesy Mel | Flickr
This post produced in collaboration with Josh Smith, managing editor of ScoutingTheRefs.com.
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