At the risk of sounding Pollyanna-ish, there will again come a time when a Blue Jackets hockey game is (or at least, be perceived as) an important event on an otherwise uneventful day.
We're not there yet. We're not even close.
But still, during these sad/bizarre times, I find it comforting to think about sports (after all, if sports aren't an escape from reality, what is?). I'm not going to speculate with any degree of certainty if or when the NHL will return this season, or what format the regular season may have, much less the playoffs, if the NHL Draft will take place, when free-agency will occur, etc.
So while acknowledging that the NHL is not important in any grand scheme of things, it is okay to imagine what that looks like...
...In this case, as it pertains to Seth Jones. On Feb. 8, in a 2-1 loss against the Colorado Avalanche, Jones fractured his ankle while driving the net against Avalanche defenseman Erik Jonson.
Jones, cementing his place alongside Matt Calvert in Blue Jackets lore, scored a goal while being obviously injured.
Seth Jones.— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) February 9, 2020
that's the tweet. pic.twitter.com/0IIRwhjRB8
Then came an important decision. From Aaron Portzline of The Athletic:
Doctors gave Jones two options. Because the fracture wasn’t displaced, the ankle would heal on its own over the next three to four months, or he could elect to have surgery that would screw the bone together, tighten the ligaments, and allow him to be back in eight to 10 weeks.
“I’m all about staying away from surgery,” Jones said. “But then I started to look at the calendar and realizing what eight to 10 meant.”
On Feb. 11, he had the surgery.
“The eight-week mark would be April 7,” Jones said. “The regular season ends April 3, but the first game of the playoffs would probably be on April 7. That little sliver of possibility — me being back — is why I decided to have the surgery. If we make the playoffs, I want to have the opportunity to play.”
In the games since (and including) the injury to Jones, the Blue Jackets record was 3-6-6. It took me six games after Jones' injury to write a piece about how the Blue Jackets season was virtually over. What? I told you at the top that I'm not Pollyanna-ish.
April 7, the eight-week mark from Jones' surgery, is less than a few weeks away. It's clear now that the NHL will be nowhere close to resuming operations by then (nor should they).
So, while it's hard to do much more than speculate about plenty of unknowns – the regular season timing, a postseason format, salary cap implications, free agency, etc. – it is encouraging to know that, if/when the season does resume, the Blue Jackets will have arguably their most important player back on the ice.
Bonus: he'll be just as out of shape as the rest of the league.
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