Just Pursue It

This is NOT to toot my own horn, this is to encourage you to try something.


I have been writing for some years now. When I started it was to get thoughts swirling in my head out. Then came offers, SideLion Report, The Octopus Thrower, and GBM Wolverines from FanSided. I took positions and did so on a short-term basis. To learn how others ran their sites and to learn from great editors. Then I moved to Inside The Rink which was the next step and very helpful.

PHILADELPHIA, PA – NOVEMBER 05: The Columbus Blue Jackets logo is shown before a game against the Philadelphia Flyers on November 5, 2011 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)

Being asked by The Undrafted News to cover the Columbus Blue Jackets with media credentials from the press box has been incredible and helpful also it has been a blessing to be able to talk with other sports journalists and learn from them.

Now I will be covering both the Blue Jackets and Detroit Red Wings for The Undrafted News. So why am I telling you this? Why should you believe I am not tooting my own horn?

I am telling you this because I believe everyone has special gifts and talents that not everyone has. I also strongly believe that many do not work and put effort into growing and refining the talents they have.

MONTREAL, CANADA – DECEMBER 02: A closeup view of the Detroit Red Wings logo during the third period against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre on December 2, 2023 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The Detroit Red Wings defeated the Montreal Canadiens 5-4 in overtime. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

I can tell you that the more effort you put in, the more doors will open for you. If you are miserable in your job and/or life, perhaps it is because you were designed to do something different.

Even when you do not feel like practicing, do it anyway. Over and over and keep chipping away at it. Once you feel somewhat confident look for areas you want to try. Then take the step, do not listen to anyone else including yourself. Let go and do it.

There is profound freedom in going down another path. I am trying to get out of “Corporate America,” I have taken steps and am currently on a trajectory to do that. When? Whenever God opens that door, which could be very soon.

Get out of your head and comfort zone start the work and trust the process.

The Columbus Blue Jackets must hire the right coach

Todd Richards, John Tortorella, Brad Larsen, the past three Columbus Blue Jackets head coaches. Of the trio only Tortorella found some success leading the Blue Jackets to the franchises only playoff series win. Saturday, the team fired Brad Larsen and now GM, Jarmo Kekalainen and President of Hockey Operations, John Davidson must hire the right head coach, for the remainder of reset the team is currently under and when they are finished and ready to compete for a playoff spot.

Fans should be prepared while the coaching search is developing to hear names like; Bruce Boudreau, Peter Laviolette, Alain Vigneault, and others. Only Kekalainen and Davidson know who they are targeting and who they want behind the bench.

TORONTO, CANADA – APRIL 4: Kirill Marchenko #86 of the Columbus Blue Jackets skates against the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at Scotiabank Arena on April 4, 2023 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Maple Leafs defeated the Blue Jackets 4-2. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

Yet, no matter if it is a coaching retread or a new face, it must be the right fit. The Blue Jackets have one of the better prospect pools and they team is young. Players like Kirill Marchenko and Kent Johnson are still developing next season top prospect David Jiricek will be in the mix for a roster spot. So needless to say, the next head coach must be able to develop young players.

The Blue Jackets badly need a stabilizing head coach. One that can develop young players and get veterans to produce more. That in and of itself is the trick. The timing of firing a coach is never good. The team is preparing for the 2023 NHL Entry Draft, mapping out an offseason game plan and now looking for a new head coach.

September 16 2015: John Davidson President of Hockey Operations of the Columbus Blue Jackets talking to media during Media Day held by the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena in Columbus Ohio (Photo by Jason Mowry/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

With a new head coach the question is will he retain any of the leftover coaches? That does not generally happen. A coach wants coaches they have worked with so while it is possible, do not hold your breath.

Jarmo Kekalainen also stated that some changes will be coming as he wants to get the team back into the playoffs. Just what those changes are one can only guess.

It is going to be an interesting spring and summer in Columbus not too mention busy.


The Columbus Blue Jackets dismiss Brad Larsen as head coach and Many Legacy as goalie coach

 John Tortorella is the winningest coach in the history of the Columbus Blue Jackets. It was never going to be easy to be “the next guy,” after Tortorella. Brad Larsen started his coaching career with the Blue Jackets in 2010-’11 as an assistant in the AHL with the Springfield Falcons. In the 2014-’15 season Larsen would join then Blue Jackets head coach Todd Richards staff in Columbus.

September 16 2015: Jarmo Kekalainen General Manager of the Columbus Blue Jackets talking to media during Media Day held by the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena in Columbus Ohio (Photo by Jason Mowry/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Speaking Saturday morning after dismissing the teams head coach, GM, Jarmo Kekalainen spoke on the season that was for the team he steers. “This season has been extremely disappointing and the responsibility for that lies with all of us,” Kekalainen stated. The GM went on to say that while the decision was difficult it was “absolutely necessary.”

While he refused (rightfully so) to go into details on why and how he came to the decision to move on from Brad Larsen it can be assumed the team is nowhere close to being where they thought they would by under the leadership of the now former head coach. Even with the rash of injuries there was no forward progress made.

Columbus Blue Jackets goaltending was……….. not good (being very polite) this season leading to goalie coach Many Legacy not being retained. That said, it could be read, right or wrong Kekalainen either fired shots at or offered a stern warning to starting goal Elvis Merzlikins while speaking about Legacy. Stating, “Well, number one, goaltender is a key to success with any team that wants to be in the playoffs or have success in the playoffs, or let alone win the Stanley Cup. You need a goalie that has the skills, that has the talent, but also a goalie who is consistent and reliable. That means staying healthy, being in top condition, probably the best conditioned guy on the whole team because of the requirements of that job. And that’s going to be something that’s gonna be addressed.”

DETROIT, MI – NOVEMBER 26: Assistant coach Brad Larsen of the Columbus Blue Jackets watches the action from the bench against the Detroit Red Wings during an NHL game at Little Caesars Arena on November 26, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. The Blue Jackets defeated the Wings 7-5. (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

Leading some to ponder if the GM does not believe he has the person in net. The Blue Jackets have some really good young players and are in position to add to that talent pool this summer. This is a team that even in a difficult season had a few rays of light. Also a team that believe it or not is not that far away from being a more consistent product on the ice.

I will go into the coaching search this week. Come back for names and possible good fits.


Why this was not a throw away season for the Columbus Blue Jackets

Often when a sports team has a bad season fans view it as a “throw away.” For the Columbus Blue Jackets (25-48) they now know they will pick no worse than #4 in this summer’s NHL Draft. There is some more good news for the Blue Jackets, no really This season that on the surface was disappointing actually has some silver linings, let’s dig in.

For starters the team got some eye popping play and a look into the future from both Kirill Marchenko and Kent Johnson. Marchenko started the season in Cleveland with the Monsters as the Blue Jackets organization thought it best to allow him time to get use to the North American hockey rinks.

COLUMBUS, OHIO – MARCH 11: Kirill Marchenko #86 of the Columbus Blue Jackets lines up prior to a face-off during the third period of a game against the St. Louis Blues at Nationwide Arena on March 11, 2023 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Ben Jackson/NHLI via Getty Images)

Once called up Marchenko put on a show. 21- goals, 4- assists, 25 points. Marchenko played most nights on the Columbus top line. He looks to be a natural goal scorer and a big part of the teams retooling.

His teammate Kent Johnson looks like a top-end  NHL player. 16-goals, 24-assists,40 points, for Johnson stats do not tell the whole story. Playing outstanding defense and driving plays Johnson played better and better and with a lot of confidence. Johnson was if not the, close to it best Blue Jacket post All-Star game.

COLUMBUS, OHIO – JANUARY 16: Adam Boqvist #27 of the Columbus Blue Jackets skates with the puck during the second period of a game against the New York Rangers at Nationwide Arena on January 16, 2023 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Ben Jackson/NHLI via Getty Images)

Adam Boqvist, this is a player fans have waited to fulfill his pre-draft projections. This season Boqvist did just that and should be part on the Columbus defensive unit for some time. Playing in 46 games due to injury Boqvist bested his points total this season tallying 24. His play in the defensive end was much better and he now enters the conversation as a potential top four defenseman who is more than capable to quarterback the power play (PP.)

Patrik Laine who missed time (as most Blue Jackets) with injuries, yet Laine has and is becoming a really good two-way player. No longer does Laine drift to the outside, he is now in the middle fighting for pucks and being more physical. Laine even showed he can play center and play it well. Could that be a spot for him moving forward?

While there was plenty of bad to go around, such as; the defense was a mess even with everyone healthy early on. The organization made the switch to man-to-man and it was rocky which is very kind. Cole Sillinger was in a season long sophomore slump and was sent to Cleveland in part to help the Monsters playoff push but more as a reset for a player who is a large part of the future. As mentioned the Blue Jackets had a near unbelievable rash of injuries with 541 lost man minutes, yikes!

So now the wait is on until the NHL Draft Lottery, Monday, May 8 to see just where the Columbus Blue Jackets will be selecting.

Could the Columbus Blue Jackets trade for Jakob Chychrun

Now that both the NHL draft and free agency have past and NHL training camps are just weeks away from getting underway, it is time to check in on past trade talks. Right around the draft the Arizona Coyotes and Columbus Blue Jackets were talking about a trade that centered around Coyotes defensemen Jakob Chychrun. No trade was made but that does not mean that the teams ended the talks entirely.

DETROIT, MI – MARCH 08: Jakob Chychrun (6) of the Arizona Coyotes controls the puck against the Detroit Red Wings during the third period of an NHL game at Little Caesars Arena on March 8, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan. Arizona defeated Detroit 9-2. (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Blue Jackets are a young up and coming team and the Coyotes have been in rebuild mode for a while. Columbus has a surplus of forwards and the Coyotes need forwards. The Coyotes have defensive talent and the Blue Jackets need more help on defense. Making this a plausible possibility.

If a trade were made, The Blue Jackets would get an instant upgrade for the blue line. A top pairing of Zach Werenski and Chychrun would help the rest of the roster out as Andrew Peeke would have to slide to the second line so the Blue Jackets depth would be better.

Jakub Chychrun signed a 6 year $27,600,000 contract in 2018. The Blue Jackets who had to trade Oliver Bjorkstrand in order to get Patrik Laine’s new extension under the cap would need to send a player or players to Arizona of at least equal value in order to be under the cap if they trade for Chychrun.

COLUMBUS, OH – SEPTEMBER 22: Liam Foudy #19 of the Columbus Blue Jackets poses for his official headshot for the 2021-2022 season on September 22, 2021 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Ben Jackson/NHLI via Getty Images)

With the trade of Bjorkstrand the word is Columbus is going to give Krill Marchenko a long look in training camp. Still the Blue Jackets could offer a package something along the lines of Gustav Nyquist and former first round draft pick Liam Foudy. Again that is just an example.

Chychrun is a very good defensive player and the asking price would be a lot as it should be. Again the Blue Jackets have a surplus of forwards and certainly have enough to offer the Coyotes.

I am not saying this is going to happen, but it is worth keeping and eye on as it is pre training camp trade season.

The Columbus Blue Jackets traded Oliver Bjorkstrand to become cap compliant

There are angry fans, there are puzzled fans, there are fans who understand. The Columbus Blue Jackets, who Friday afternoon signed Patrik Laine to a 4 year $34.8 million extension, was on the clock to make a deal and make it fast. The Blue Jackets had to get to a point where they would be cap compliant after signing free agent Johnny Gaudreau and Laine. The odd man out turned out to be Oliver Bjorkstand who will now call Seattle home as he will play for the Kraken.

COLUMBUS, OH – JANUARY 8: Oliver Bjorkstrand #28 of the Columbus Blue Jackets waves to the fans after being named first star of the game following a 4-3 victory over the New Jersey Devils at Nationwide Arena on January 8, 2022 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Ben Jackson/NHLI via Getty Images)

After news broke about the Laine extension, I took to social media and gave a short list (4 players) who due to their contracts I thought would be moved to get the Blue Jackets under the salary cap. I listed Bjorkstrand as one of those players (the other players listed are irrelevant as they did not get traded.)

Social media saw an uptick in Blue Jacket posts. No matter if fans were, angry, puzzled or understanding, one thing shined through……. they are going to miss Oliver Bjorkstrand who had been drafted by the team developed by the team and became a top six forward on the team. Bjorkstrand spent 9 years in the Blue Jackets organization.

It looks and feels like the Blue Jackets front office rushed to make the move as the team received a 3rd and 4th round draft pick for Bjorkstrand. While understanding this was a salary dump by the Blue Jackets it feels like the return should have been a bit more.

DALLAS, TX – JUNE 23: Kirill Marchenko poses for a portrait after being selected 49th overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets during the 2018 NHL Draft at American Airlines Center on June 23, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

There really is no positive spin that will appease the Columbus Blue Jackets 5th line (fan base.) I do believe that by trading Oliver Bjorkstrand the door is now open for Krill Marchenko, who is the Blue Jackets #2 ranked prospect if he has a strong training camp to slide into a starting right wing (RW) role on the team.

In the end something had to give. In these situations the GM makes calls and does a lot of busy work. It could very well be that the 3rd and 4th round draft picks was the best return the organization could get.

No matter what, the Columbus Blue Jackets are in very good shape heading into training camp and the regular season. As for Oliver Bjorkstrand, Seattle please take good care of him. He is a good player on and off the ice.

Blue Jackets fans, leave a comment, give us your thoughts or simply vent, if you like.

Was this timing calculated by the Columbus Blue Jackets

You’ve heard it at least once in your life, timing is everything. It is hard not to look at the Columbus Blue Jackets and the organization’s offseason and think this is a bit more than coincidence. For years the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals have had a stranglehold on the Metropolitan (Metro) Division. With both Pittsburgh and Washington’s Stanley Cup window all but closed, the Columbus Blue Jackets have made their move.

Looking back at the 2019 Blue Jackets season, that year saw the team trade for some high profile players in hopes of making some noise in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. When the team was knocked out of the playoffs the players walked as free agents. Looking back that may have been intentional.

For years Columbus Blue Jackets fan base have heard both team President, John Davidson and General Manager, Jarmo Kekalainen say that Columbus is wonderful and they could attract free agents. Yet, that did not happen. Until this offseason.

CALGARY, ALBERTA – MAY 18: Johnny Gaudreau #13 of the Calgary Flames skates before the game against the Edmonton Oilers in Game One of the Second Round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Saddledome on May 18, 2022 in Calgary, Alberta. (Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images)

With the Penguins and Capitals in decline, Kekalainen made his move. signing coveted free agent Johnny Gaudreau and his teammate and friend in Calgary Erik Gudbranson. Stunning the hockey world, yet Kekalainen said that the signing should put any false notion to rest. Free agents will come to Columbus.

So hear me out for a moment. If the Columbus Blue Jackets front office, gave the city and fans a peek at what could be in 2019, yet felt that it was not the right time to go all in they had a plan in place the whole time.

What if Jarmo Kekalainen allowed the division’s “top dogs” to do what they had been doing? With aging rosters and up against the salary cap not to mention both the Penguins and Capitals minor leagues in shambles due to winning, the Blue Jackets front office was willing to wait it out. Until now.

PITTSBURGH, PA – MARCH 22: Patrik Laine #29 of the Columbus Blue Jackets looks on against the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG PAINTS Arena on March 22, 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images)

I do believe Kekalainen, I think that both Johnny Gaudreau who said he wants to be a Blue Jacket and Patrik Laine (who the team signed to a 4-year extension yesterday)  has expressed his love for Columbus, shows that players will come.

This has been a franchise changing offseason for the Columbus Blue Jackets who suddenly look like one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference.


GM Jarmo Kekalainen has pushed the Columbus Blue Jackets reset forward

When Columbus Blue Jackets GM, Jarmo Kekalainen, announced the organization was entering a “reset” many thought that was code for rebuild. After Columbus stunned the hockey world Wednesday night by signing free agent left wing (LW) Johnny Gaudreau it appears it was and is a reset after all. Now it looks like the Blue Jackets are set to start the climb back to the NHL Playoffs.

Johnny Gaudreau is a playmaker. As in elite playmaker. Last season with the Calgary Flames, Gaudreau amassed 40 goals, 75 assists and 115 points. While many people were shocked at the signing, Gaudreau said that he had Columbus circled as a possible destination during free agency.

Until the news broke Wednesday evening, Columbus was never a hot bed for NHL free agents. Now with Johnny Gaudreau those days may be over. Again, Gaudreau said he had Columbus circled as a possible team he would sign with. Meaning, he wanted to come to the Blue Jackets.

Back to Jarmo Kekalainen, who said after the 2019 exits of Artemi Panarin and other high profile players he wants players who want to be in Columbus. Players like Johnny Gaudreau and Patrik Laine.

PHILADELPHIA, PA – APRIL 05: Jakub Voracek #93 and Patrik Laine #29 of the Columbus Blue Jackets celebrate after defeating the Philadelphia Flyers 4-2 at the Wells Fargo Center on April 5, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)

Columbus is set on the left side. With Gaudreau, Laine and Jakub Voracek. The team still needs to come to terms with Laine on a new contract. It makes you think does the team view Voracek as a long term player or will they attempt to move him to free up space to sign Laine?

During his press conference Gaudreau spoke highly of Laine and sure made it seem like he wants to be on the same team as him. So what does this mean for the Blue Jackets moving forward?

COLUMBUS, OH – DECEMBER 4: Johnny Gaudreau #13 of the Calgary Flames controls the puck during the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on December 4, 2018 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

The Columbus Blue Jackets have a lot of talent. The team is still young, but they are armed with Cole Sillinger, Kent Johnson, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Boone Jenner, Gustav Nyquist, Jack Roslovic, Emil Bemtrom, Alexandre Texier, Gaudreau, Vorceck and Laine.

In order to be in the mix for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Columbus would need to pick up at least 19 more points this season. Many of the teams young players have a full season under their belts and are expected to take the next step. Which is possible.

The Columbus Blue Jackets are clearly a team on the rise. This will be a fun season and one that very well could see them back in the playoffs.

Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts on the Columbus Blue Jackets.


3 players who can breakout for the Columbus Blue Jackets next season

As Columbus Blue Jackets general manager, Jarmo Kekalainen continues to mold and shape the teams roster it became clear last season that this make over while not fun, could yield a very fun, dangerous hockey team. Going over last seasons roster, and projecting what is to come, I have found 3 players who I believe are likely to breakout next season.

COLUMBUS, OHIO – MARCH 05: Yegor Chinakhov #59 of the Columbus Blue Jackets gets set during a face off against the Boston Bruins at Nationwide Arena on March 05, 2022 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Rick Osentoski/Getty Images)

Yegor Chinakhov, RW, while nothing really jumped off the boards during his rookie season, Chinakhov’s all around play improved as the season moved along. 7 goals and 14 points with 7 assists  is not earthshaking. Looking ahead to projections, the fleet footed young winger has some very good upside. Chinakhov is a natural goal scorer and I believe much like Oliver Bjorkstand will find his scoring touch in time. I look for Chinakhov to take the next step in his development this coming season.

MONTREAL, QC – FEBRUARY 12: Adam Boqvist (27) of the Columbus Blue Jackets waits for play to begin during the third period of the NHL game between the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Montreal Canadiens on February 12, 2022, at the Bell Centre in Montreal, QC(Photo by Vincent Ethier/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Defensemen, Adam Boqvist is the next on my list of breakout player watch. Playing 52 games because of injuries, Boqvist flashed what is to come. 11 goals, 11 assists with 22 points, suggests that the young blueliner has some serious offensive upside. In what was his first full season in the NHL, Boqvist showed while young and still learning, his defensive game will be solid when it all comes together. Putting on more weight and getting stronger will help fend off the pesky injuries he sustained this past season. It will be fun to watch his development this coming season for the Blue Jackets.

COLUMBUS, OH – APRIL 22: Columbus Blue Jackets center Cole Sillinger #34 skates with the puck during the game between the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Ottawa Senators at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio on April 22, 2022.(Photo by Jason Mowry/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The next player may make some or all of you say, really? Or no kidding? But for me a player who should take a big step forward is Cole Sillinger. Sillinger, who at just 18 years old mind you had a very good rookie season. 16 goals, 15 assists with 31 points, including a hat trick. There was and is a lot and I mean a lot to like from the young center. When drafted the only knock on Sillinger was his “suspect defense.” Yet Sillinger played well at both ends of the ice. Can he improve? Yes! In my opinion, Sillinger has not even scratched the surface of what he is capable of doing, which should delight the Blue Jacket fan base.

So those are my 3 players who I believe will or very well could breakout for the Columbus Blue Jackets, next season. Drop a comment and let me know your thoughts.

Columbus Blue Jackets, Cole Sillinger feels like he can give more

When the Columbus Blue Jackets drafted Cole Sillinger with the organizations second first round draft pick (12 overall) in 2021 the thought was that the young forward would slide into one of the center positions quickly. That did happen and now Sillinger is firmly planted as the second line center. Not bad for an 18 year old. In what started out as a shaky rookie campaign, Sillinger has turned up his game. Yet, it feels like he can give even more.

COLUMBUS, OH – NOVEMBER 12: Cole Sillinger #34 of the Columbus Blue Jackets shoots the puck during the third period of a game against the Washington Capitals at Nationwide Arena on November 12, 2021 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Ben Jackson/NHLI via Getty Images)

14 goals, 13 assists with 27 points (as of this moment.) Cole Sillinger has had a nice rookie season for the Blue Jackets. The young center went from starting to being a healthy scratch to starting again to earn time on the second power play line. Such is rookie life in the NHL.

When he came into the league, Sillinger was known as a pure sniper. In fact many scouts had him listed as the best shooter in the draft. Playing center however is more tricky and there is considerably more responsibility as centers do not just fire the puck at the net. Centers must set up line mates and pass into the tough areas all that means is there is a lot to learn.

Being the youngest player in the NHL means that even though Cole Sillinger has had a nice rookie season, he feels like a player who can give more and by and large will give more.

In my opinion once Sillinger learns his craft even further he should be closer to 20-25 goals and 50 points. I do not think that is a stretch. In fact Sillinger has shown enough flashes of what he will be once his development is complete.

Things that can not be taught are toughness and playing with an edge which Sillinger does. He is also more than capable to take over a game such as when he sored his first career hat trick against the Vegas Golden Knights. The sky seems to be the limit for Sillinger.

VANCOUVER, BC – DECEMBER 14: Columbus Blue Jackets Center Cole Sillinger (34) on ice against the Vancouver Canucks during their NHL game at Rogers Arena on December 14, 2021 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Devin Manky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Columbus Blue Jackets have had a glaring need at center for some time, Sillinger has helped to ease that need. He is one player fans should focus on this offseason as a player who could very well have his breakout next season.