The CBJ are faced with many questions as they open their 2007-08 campaign.
Camp opened Friday morning for the Columbus Blue Jackets, and they have three preseason games in the books – winning the most recent. With a trend for mediocrity throughout their existence, could this be the year they make a playoff push, and possibly more?
There is no mystery to what Head Coach Ken Hitchcock and General Manager Scott Houston bring to the table. Their experience prior to Columbus speaks volumes to their managing ability.
The new “brand” of the Blue Jackets is to be a “tough team.” In years past, they have been slow, disorganized and underachieving. In the early going though, they are making some quality hits on the ice and appear to be more intense and in better shape.
But many questions arise when you get to “Your Columbus Bluuuuueeee Jackets!”
Rick Nash is one of the best goal scorers in the NHL, but he has lacked passion and intensity. Will Hitchcock get the MVP-caliber version, or is this just another case of a franchise player getting comfortable and content where he’s at?
Jody Shelly may be out of a job if some of the young wingers come around, which is unfortunate, because he (not Nash) is the fan favorite and face of the club. What role will one of the best enforcers in the league find in Columbus (or possibly somewhere else)?
Sergei Fedorov stepped up as the vocal leader last season, publicly criticizing the team in an attempt to get the team to play with a chip on their shoulders. That was quickly ended – probably from higher ups – and he quietly took a step back. Adam Foote is a veteran defender, but are his days numbered as injuries begin to pile up? Can Fedorov and Foote serve as the veteran leaders on a team looking to build a young core?
Then there is Nikolai Zherdev. Houston has made every attempt to make him happy, including traveling out of the county to take him to dinner. Will this special treatment finally get some productive minutes out of probably the most anticipated player in franchise history?
There was a collective gasp in Nationwide Arena as David Vyborny was drilled awkwardly into the boards on Sunday night. The heart and sole of the Jackets is making up an interesting line with Nash and Federov. Could this become one the most productive lines in the NHL?
Who’s the goaltender on this club? How does Michael Peca fit into the mix? Who will be on the ice with Dan Fritsche?
Not to be cliché, but only time will tell with this talented and no-longer-inexperienced team. The questions remain, but the answers will begin to be answered October 5.