On Monday afternoon, the Columbus Blue Jackets announced that the captaincy of the club would be addressed during a press conference scheduled for Wednesday, at 11:00 am.
Columbus Blue Jackets Set To Announce New Captain
NEWS: #CBJ to introduce sixth captain in club history at press conference Wednesday at 11AM. pic.twitter.com/pvpW1Y3gjM
— NHL Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) May 18, 2015
General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen will be introducing the club’s sixth team captain on Wednesday, May 20 at 11:00 a.m ET . The press conference will be streaming live on bluejackets.com
This decision will mark the first captain since the departure of Rick Nash, was left the club in 2012. He served as team captain 2008 until he was traded to the New York Rangers. For the last three seasons, the captaincy has remained vacant.
After receiving their team in 2000, defenseman Lyle Odelein was named the inaugural captain. Ray Whitney became the second player to wear the C for Columbus, lasting just one year before those duties were handed to Luke Richardson. Adam Foote held the captaincy from 2005 to 2008 before Rick Nash took over the helm until his trade, four years later. Nash was the team’s longest serving captain.
In less than 48 hours, Columbus will name the 6th captain of the franchise’s history, and it’s time to mull over a few likely candidates who can expect to be in the mix.
Drafted 4th overall in 2010 by the Blue Jackets, Ryan Johansen evolved into an offensive powerhouse in just two seasons. In 2013-14, the 22-year-old became just the third player in franchise history to hit the 30-goal plateau, posting career highs in all offensive categories and ending the season with 63 points. Johansen followed that performance with a 71-point season. Scoring 26 goals, the Vancouver-native added 45 assists as the number one centre of the team.
Through all the injuries that Columbus battled through during the 2014-15 season, Johansen played all 82 games and was one of the brightest spots of the Blue Jackets season. From December 18th to January 17th the following year, Johansen went on a 13-game point streak, scoring 8 goals and adding 8 assists.
While Johansen became the third player in franchise history to score 30 goals or more, Nick Foligno was the fourth to accomplish that feat this past season. The 2014-15 regular season was a memorable one for the second generation NHL’er, as he posted career highs in goals, assists and points. The last (and only) time Foligno hit the 30-goal mark was in his final season in the Ontario Hockey League, as a member of the Sudbury Wolves.
Foligno also joined Johansen in the 2014-15 All-Star Game, even captaining one of the teams. From what the media and management has said about Foligno, both as a player on the ice and the man off the ice, it’s hard to find a more suitable captain than him. By the way his teammates and coaches talk about him, Foligno is already the unofficial captain.
Coming over as one of the pieces in the trade that saw Rick Nash dealt to New York, Brandon Dubinsky became an instant favorite of the Blue Jackets fanbase. His grit and relentlessness was very much appreciated by management, so much so that he was given one of the alternate captains role, and also got locked up to a 6-year, $35.1 million extension in July of 2014. Reduced to just 47 games last season, Dubinsky still put up 36 points (13 goals, 23 assists).
In terms of leadership, a hard-nosed player that can put up secondary scoring and inspire his team to play hard during every shift is captain material and Dubinsky embodies all of those traits. His contract status leave the Blue Jackets management in a comfortable spot to make him their leader, but whether or not he can remain healthy is something they’ll need to ponder.
Drafted in 2012, 2nd overall, Ryan Murray was expected to be the top pairing defenseman that the Blue Jackets needed on their blue-line. After spending five seasons with the Everett Silvertips in the Western Hockey League, Murray made his way to the NHL in the 2013-14 season as a 20-year-old rookie. In two seasons however, the promising prospect has managed to piece together just 78 games, playing in 12 contests with the club last season.
His health may be the biggest issue as to why he’ll miss out on the C. Fortunately enough for him, Murray is still young and has a lot of mileage left before he starts to hit the negative side of his peak. If it isn’t now, Murray can be an option in the future, maybe as the 7th captain of the franchise, perhaps five years from now. If he can steer clear from anymore injuries.
Should the Blue Jackets look for more of a veteran-type captain, look no further than Scott Hartnell. At the age of 33, Hartnell has gone through the ringer more than once and has proven to be battle tested as a long-serving member of the Philadelphia Flyers. In his first season, the rugged winger posted a career-high in assists with 32, and finished two goals shy of his career high in goal (30).
On contract for four more seasons at an annual cap hit of $4.75 million, Hartnell provides the experience at both the regular season and playoffs stages, while proving to be a fantastic teammate. As one of the more likeable characters in the Blue Jackets’ dressing room, Hartnell would be a fantastic fit but is in tough with the other names available and the fact that he has only been with the organization for one season.
In additional news, the Blue Jackets announced that Assistant General Manager Chris MacFarland would be leaving his position after 16 seasons, taking the same position with the Colorado Avalanche.
#CBJ would like to thank Asst. GM Chris MacFarland, who is leaving the club after 16 years: http://t.co/JkFnIh67WA pic.twitter.com/QXw1q3NWmj
— NHL Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) May 18, 2015
“We thank Chris for his years of service, hard work and commitment to the #CBJ & wish him and his family all the best in the future,” General Manager Jarmo Kekelainen said, in a meeting with the media. “(Chris MacFarland’s) contributions to our hockey club have been significant.”
No replacement has been named at this time.