Columbus Blue Jackets
The Columbus Blue Jackets are a National Hockey League team that competes in the Metropolitan division of the Eastern Conference. The team started to form in 1996 when a group of investors created what was known as Columbus Hockey Limited, which they used to fill out an official bid to become a future NHL team.
The franchise ran into problems early though with many arguing over how the team’s stadium would be paid for. While people in Columbus were looking into a referendum that would allow for the city to foot the bill for the stadium, other citizens seemed to not like the idea, which lead civic leaders to claim that they wouldn’t foot the bill if the referendum wasn’t passed.
As fate would have it however, Gary Betttman visited the city to discuss plans to start a franchise there and while a meeting wrapped up with not much progress made, John McConnell personally guaranteed the commissioner that the stadium would be built either way. Although the referendum ultimately failed and didn’t pass, Nationwide invested $150 million into building the arena.
Columbus was eventually recognized as a franchise city in 1997 and earned the name, the Blue Jackets, after a “name our team” contest. Their first season was in 2000 and would start out with a 3-5 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks. They finished with a record of 28-39-9. They didn’t improve much over the next five years either, finishing with a season best record of 29-42-8 in 2003.
The Columbus Blue Jackets did manage a decent record of 35-43 in 2005, but wouldn’t have their first winning season until 2008, when they finished 41-31. This would be enough to net them 4th in the division and even led to their first playoff appearance. With that being said, the Blue Jackets got blown out by the Red Wings in the conference finals and wouldn’t reach the playoffs again until 2013.
This would also be the first time that the Blue Jackets used what is known as “the cannon” during games. The cannon is an 1857 Napoleon Replica cannon that fires every time the Jackets take the ice, score, or win a game. This is used during all the Blue Jacket’s home games and has become a fan favorite.
Unfortunately for The Blue Jacket’s, they would suffer a 2-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins the very next season and were subsequently eliminated in the first round. After that, their next playoff appearance wouldn’t come until 2016, when the Blue Jacket’s had a season record of 50-24, but they lost in the opening round to the Pittsburgh Penguins again.
Believe it or not, the Blue Jackets playoff woes would only get worse from there, as the team got eliminated in the first round of the postseason two times in three years and never made it past the second round either. Their last playoff appearance was in 2019, when they won a qualifying match against the Maple Leafs but were eliminated in the first round by the Tampa Bay Lighting.
Now, the Blue Jackets haven’t had much luck in the playoffs and have never made it to the Stanley Cup Finals, but they have come a long way from the team that they were back in the early 2010’s. In fact, between reaching the playoffs five of the last seven years and having a franchise record of 660-672-33, they have become a middle of the pack kind of team.
The Blue Jackets are currently coached by John Tortorella, who has served in the role since 2015 and has a record of 622-493-142 at the helm. The Columbus Blue Jackets also has a host of star players, including Elvis Merzlikens, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Seth Jones, Josh Anderson, Zach Werenski, Cam Atkinson and Liam Foudy,
Nick Foligno serves as the team’s captain, Pierre-Luc Dubois is the team’s leading scorer and the combination of Zach Werenski and Gustav Nyquist make the Blue Jackets one of the most versatile offenses in the entire league. As for goaltenders, they have Elvis Merzlikens, Matiss Kivlenieks and Joonas Korpisalo, who are still very raw, but improving every year.
In the end, the Blue Jackets finished the 2020 season with a 33-22 record and made the playoffs for the 4th time in five years. They did manage to win a qualifying series 3-2 against the Maple Leafs, but got eliminated in the very next round to the Lightning 10-4. Hopefully better things are to come for the Blue Jackets in the future, but they seem to have plateaued for now.