33-42-7 (11th in West)
KEY ADDITIONS D
Jan Hejda, C Michael Peca
KEY LOSSES D Bryan
Berard, D Anders Eriksson, C Alexander Svitov
franchise's first game in October 2000, Columbus has had a league-worst
172-258-33-29 record and never made the playoffs. But that hasn't stopped G.M.
Scott Howson and coach Ken Hitchcock from trying to establish some pride on the
team. A few weeks ago they installed a large glass case in the hallway of
Nationwide Arena that leads from the team's dressing room to the players'
lounge, on which notable Blue Jackets' accomplishments--such as Rick Nash's
winning the Rocket Richard Trophy as the league's top goal scorer in
Hitchcock is a
disciplinarian who has never missed the playoffs when he has coached a team for
a full season, but Columbus is still a work in progress. Nash has slipped from
41 goals to 31 to 27 in the last three years. Center Sergei Fedorov has looked
uninterested playing for a mediocre team. Winger Nikolai Zherdev has yet to
translate his sublime skills into elite play.
counting on three prospects to develop quickly: playmaking center Derick
Brassard, the team's first-round pick in 2006; center Gilbert Brul�, its top
pick in '05; and Kris Russell, a raw, skilled defenseman listed at 5' 10",
160�pounds. Their emergence may take a while, but there is plenty of space
on the board.