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Western Conference: Central
Brian Cazeneuve
October 08, 2007
DETROIT RED WINGS
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October 08, 2007

Western Conference: Central

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LAST SEASON 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

Since the 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 2003-04--are commemorated.

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.

Columbus is 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.

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