It's no secret that Brad Larsen loves Columbus.
He's been there for seven years, and he'll hopefully be there for at least three more. In an interview with NHL Now, Larsen had nothing but praise for the city. He also discussed the passion of Blue Jackets fans, as well as the rise of Eric Robinson.
"I wish everybody could have experienced, a couple years ago, the Tampa series and the Boston series...this is a base of fans that love hockey," said Larsen. "They love sports. You talk Buckeye football and people go crazy. I feel silly having to defend a city that doesn't need to be defended. It's an unbelievable place to be here with a family and just grow the sport, because they're tremendous fans."
Something that the Blue Jackets front office will be working on is reshaping the perception of Columbus around the league. During recent times, we've seen many stars come and go through Columbus, but Artemi Panarin, Matt Duchene, Sergei Bobrovsky, Pierre-Luc Dubois, and now Seth Jones all have refused to commit long-term.
With the franchise at a crossroads this summer, and a new era beginning in Columbus after John Tortorella's departure, the Blue Jackets must make the right choices with their players and assets. One hurdle that they'll have to clear is the expansion draft, which will see them lose one player to the Seattle Kraken. Many mock drafts have the Kraken selecting Eric Robinson, but it doesn't seem like Larsen would be too happy about that.
"Robinson's a guy who moved up and down our lineup a lot," said Larsen. "It's funny, a lot of times, he'd be moving up and he'd be helping his linemates just with his speed. One thing about Robby, he's put the work in...he's working hard at his game, his passing, his shooting, his release, all that stuff. He's one that stands out, just in the short term here, of what a tremendous job and strides he made for us this year."
There will certainly be competition on the wings for playing time, as it's arguably the Blue Jackets' deepest position heading into training camp. They'll return Patrik Laine, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Cam Atkinson, Robinson, Emil Bemstrom, Gustav Nyquist, and Liam Foudy. Since the season ended, they added Gregory Hofmann and Justin Danforth. Kevin Stenlund, Alexandre Texier, Boone Jenner, and Max Domi also saw time on the wing last season.
With such a crowded group, the Blue Jackets could afford to lose Robinson to Seattle, in terms of numbers. However, Brad Larsen clearly thinks highly of him and wants to keep him in the Blue Jackets' plans.