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Columbus Blue Jackets |
Team Page |
On this page: Comings | Goings | Prospect Watch | Get the Highlighter | Quoteworthy
With any new franchise there are bound to be questions. Columbus is no
exception. For starters, can the Blue Jackets survive in Buckeyeland? Early
returns say "yes." The club met the NHL requirement of 12,000 season
tickets sold by March 31, and it's now approaching 13,000 for the home opener in
Next up: How competitive can this team be under coach Dave King? Team president
Doug McLean concentrated on acquiring smallish but speedy forwards, sizable
defenseman and capable goaltenders. The strength of the team without a doubt
will be goaltending, most notably in Marc Denis and Ron Tugnutt. But there are
major question marks at every other
Finally: How soon can the Blue Jackets be respectable? That depends on how
younger players, such as top prospect Rostislav Klesla, develop. McLean, who
learned under Florida GM Bryan Murray, realizes how vital it is to stockpile
decent talent for the future.
For more on the Blue Jackets, bookmark this page and check back Wednesday, Oct. 11 for a Sports Illustrated Scouting Report.
| BRIGHT SPOTS
|| GRAY AREAS |
No pressure to succeed right away is the tonic this team needs, since it will
give draftees time to get
A glut of prospects, including fourth pick G Greg Gardner, who was stellar at
Niagara University last season with a 1.53 GAA and .936 save
Welcome back to the NHL, Ohio. The memory of Gilles Meloche and the Cleveland
Barons lives on. May better days be ahead for the Blue
They may not be familiar now, but remember the names of Jan Caloun, Espen Knutsen, Martin Spanhel and David Vyborny. They're talented players who could make an impact.
Growing pains. The Blue Jackets may have to grin and bear it for the next two
years until young players are ready for the
Where is the scoring going to come from? Creaky RW Kevin Dineen, brought in to
provide leadership, can't even dream of 40 goals anymore, let alone 10. Forwards
Robert Kron and Geoff Sanderson are the most potent threats; each scored 13
Seventeen back-to-back games can't help.
History doesn't bode well for expansion teams. In the last two years, Nashville (63 points) and Atlanta (39) have employed weak talent. Columbus can probably expect nothing more than 40-45 points.
||AK Bars-Kazan (Russia)
Rostislav Klesla, D, 6'2", 198
Born: March 21, 1982 in Novy Jicin, Czech Republic
Acquired: 2000 draft, first round (No. 4 overall)
Named to the Ontario Hockey League's
All-Rookie Team, Klesla was considered the best defenseman of the draft. He is
projected as a No. 1 or 2 defenseman in the NHL. He was named Best Body Checker
in the Western Conference in the 2000 OHL Coaches Poll. One of his best
attributes is his hard shot from the point, clocked at 97.1 mph at the CHL Top
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Sat., Oct. 7 vs. Blackhawks: Chicago christens the Nationwide Arena. Real mystery, though is how Blue Jackets will break it in.
Thurs., Oct. 12 at Calgary: First-ever road game takes place at Calgary.
Wed., Dec. 27 at New Jersey: First of two games against Stanley Cup champion Devils. Both
occur in a span of four
Mon., Jan. 15 vs. Wild: The fight for expansion dominance begins as the Wild invades
Wed., Jan. 17 at Minnesota: In the second of three meetings, the Blue Jackets make their
first visit to
"I've had an opportunity to play in what I felt was the best building in
the league in Toronto, a great new arena with a unique hockey atmosphere. But
I'll tell you, once I stepped inside (Nationwide) for the first time, I just
couldn't believe it. With all due respect to Toronto, I think we're going to
have the best rink in the
Team-by-team previews compiled by CNNSI.com's Ken Klavon, Jamie MacDonald and Jimmy Traina.
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