The Columbus Blue Jackets, they are a-changin’.
When the inevitable shoe dropped on July 23 with Rick Nash’s trade to the New York Rangers, it ended an era in Columbus that was almost as old as the franchise itself. Nash’s departure from the team after ten years left many fans are wondering if the Blue Jackets will ever be the same again. But the change is something that at least two players are counting on in the next season.
James Wisniewski, who pairs with Jack Johnson on one of the team’s top defensive lines, gave his thoughts to Blue Jackets TV on what was gained in the Rangers trade. “We’re gaining two NHL-ready forwards with [Artem] Anisimov and [Brandon] Dubinsky. Both guys can both play center or wing, and they play a hard, desperate game with skill, grit, [and] inspiration. It’s really exciting to see the change in identity that the Blue Jackets organization is putting forward.”
When asked what he thinks is the team’s biggest strength, Wisniewski was quick to answer. “I think it’s the passion of the group of players that we’re gonna have in this locker room that are gonna compete every single night…I can tell you one thing: every single game, we’re gonna give it our 100 percent and do our best to win hockey games.”
For his part, Dubinsky is excited to begin the season in a new city. “I had a bit of a tougher year last year, and coming here kinda gives me a fresh start and a clean slate,” he said in an interview with Blue Jackets TV. “Looking at the roster and the guys that we have here, we have a youthful group that’s energetic and seems excited through some of the conversations I’ve had with the players here about the upcoming season, and I’m approaching it the same way. I’m excited for the opportunity and to do anything I can to help this team win.”
The addition of Dubinsky and Anisimov, along with Sergei Bobrovsky, Adrian Aucoin, Nick Foligno and Tim Erixon promises to inject some much-needed life into the team, which ended last season at 29-46-7 and barely moved from the bottom of both the conference and league standings. And let’s not forget 2012 NHL Draft first-round pick Ryan Murray, who dazzled staff and coaches at development camp in July and could be a factor this season if he makes the team out of training camp.
With no Rick Nash and a handful of new faces taking the ice, the Blue Jackets hope that this is the start of bigger and better things.