Hockey is almost back. For the players themselves, they have returned to training camp and have a short period of time before they need to be game ready.
For the Columbus Blue Jackets, they have multiple questions about their lineup. Who is going to step in for Gustav Nyquist who is out injured? Is the defensive depth okay after a couple of departures? The question though that is on every fan's mind is what exactly is going on with star forward Pierre-Luc Dubois?
Talking to the assembled media after the first day of training camp, multiple people addressed the elephant in the room that is Dubois, and his reported trade request.
"Actually, our negotiations went very smooth," said general manager Jarmo Kekalainen to the media. "It's just the timetable was what it was. As long as they don't miss any camp, I'm fine with it. I wasn't worried at all, I wasn't nervous about it, and it got done before the training camp started and that's the main thing."
While Kekalainen and management have one viewpoint. There is always another side to the deal as well. They may come out of it more sour than anticipated.
"I'm going to be the best player I can be, the best teammate I can be, the best person I can be," said Dubois when asked if anything resulting from the negotiations will be a distraction. "I don't want it to be a distraction, so I think that's the only way. I think if I go out there and I work hard in practice and have a good attitude, work hard in games, play well, I think it's not a distraction."
Whether or not he thinks it is a distraction, it is a fact that other players on the team are going to have to address it throughout the season. That is going to especially fall on leadership.
"I honestly don't focus too much on it," said captain Nick Foligno of the talk surrounding Dubois. "I think you know how we run things here. If you're here, you're committed to being here until we hear otherwise or are told otherwise. I think we've dealt with it in the past. We've obviously had situations. But it's also outside chatter that doesn't affect our room."
While the players and management are diametrically opposed at times, the coaching staff has to make due with what they have in front of them and make sure that the outcome is successful on the ice. This old song and dance is old news for the Blue Jackets bench boss.
"We've had some interesting years," head coach John Tortorella said. "We're not going to overthink this. We're going to have a conversation. Everybody is going to understand where everybody stands, not only in (Pierre) Luc's situation but other situations as we enter camp. And then we're going to go about our business and get ready to play."
While that is easier said than done, it isn't exactly new territory for the Blue Jackets. They've dealt with disgruntled players before and they surely will again. For now, everyone will be putting their head down and going back to work.
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