A new era of Columbus Blue Jackets hockey is coming. That is the good news. The bad news it is not going to happen overnight. Blue Jackets General Manager, Jarmo Kekalainen who just oversaw a very good draft by the organization has given the franchise a jump start on this new era. So why was this the right thing to do? Let’s dive in.
After a four year playoff stretch that saw the Columbus Blue Jackets lead by then head coach John Tortorella, sweep the mighty Tampa Bay Lightning in 2019, the Blue Jackets began the decent that made the timing for a new era both needed and warranted.
As cornerstone players to the four years of playoff hockey have been traded off for a couple players and more importantly draft assets (picks,) Kekalainen all but ripped the band aid off and tore the foundation of his team down to the studs.
The moves that sent ripples across Columbus as fans wondered what in the world was going on is absolutely justifiable. I say that because making the hard moves shows the Kekalainen was not going to stand pat and allow his team to sink so low with nothing in the minor leagues which would have been a nightmare. As a rebuild would have taken much longer.
Take the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals respectfully. Both teams have enjoyed prolonged success and have won Stanley Cup’s. Winning comes at a cost. It always does. The Penguins and Capitals now have aging rosters full of bloated nearly untradeable contracts.
As both the Penguins and Capitals window for winning is closing both franchises are set to endure long and painful rebuilds. One that it seems Jarmo Kekalainen wanted to avoid.
While new era’s take time to take hold, the 2021 NHL Draft proved a launching pad for the Columbus Blue Jackets who were widely viewed as the draft weekend winners.
The players selected will be part of the next wave of playoff hockey in Columbus. Which thanks to shrewd moves by Kekalainen has been sped up.