Boone Jenner is the seventh captain in Blue Jackets franchise history.
He's earned it with his play and leadership, and he's very excited about the opportunity. On Sirius XM NHL Network Radio yesterday, he spoke with Steve Kouleas and Mike Rupp about what the captaincy means to him, what the goals of the team are, what he expects from Zach Werenski, Jakub Voracek, and Patrik Laine, and his relationship with the Blue Jackets' coaches and front office.
"(Wearing the "C" is) a tremendous honor," said Jenner yesterday. "Today’s kind of been a whirlwind. I’m so happy and thankful to be able to represent the Blue Jackets and be at the front of it and the guys in that room, that’s what I’m most excited about is being able to lead them. There are so many great leaders in there that we know we’re going to do it by committee. It’s going to take everyone. I’m really looking forward to it and obviously very honored and excited about it."
Outside of Columbus, there aren't many who think that the Blue Jackets will be successful this year. Most projections have them finishing at the bottom of the Metropolitan Division. From 2016 to 2019, the club made the playoffs in four straight seasons. Last year was the first year that they didn't make it, and they weren't even close. However, Jenner feels optimistic about this year's edition of the Blue Jackets, and he says they've put in the work during the offseason.
"We want to win now," said Jenner. "Like any team or any winning team, it’s a process. We wanna go through it. We want to go through the ups and downs and a lot of us have. Last year was different for a lot of us in Columbus, making the playoffs those years consecutively and then not playing for a playoff spot or positioning in the playoffs down the stretch. It was a lot different for us but it was kind of a good reset, too, realizing how hard it is to get in."
"(We realized) how important it is early in the season, training camp, everything leading up to it, the work you have to put in to be able to play in the playoffs. That’s what you got to do. We’re excited. We had a great camp and feel good about the guys we have in the room, the team, everything about that, so we’re looking forward to getting it going, enjoying the process, going through the ups and downs of the season, and winning now."
The interview then moved on to discussions about individual players, including one of the Blue Jackets' new alternate captains, Zach Werenski. This offseason, Werenski inked a massive deal to remain a Blue Jackets through the 2027-28 season, committing long term to the club and the club's goals. Jenner had nothing but praise for the Blue Jackets' number-one defenseman.
"(Zach)’s so ready for it," said Jenner. "Every year he comes in and takes a bigger role. Whether it’s through leadership or on the ice, more minutes, whatever it is, he seems to keep elevating his game and the intangibles off the ice. I’m really excited to see where he gets to this year."
"I think he put a lot of work in this summer and had a great camp. Obviously, we know what kind of player he is on the ice, the impact he can have on a game and I’m just really excited for him to elevate that even more and I know he’s excited for it. We’re pumped to see it, obviously."
Then, they moved on to Patrik Laine, who had a forgettable start to his career in Columbus. We haven't seen the best of Laine yet, who now has a full offseason under his belt, as well as a full training camp with the Blue Jackets. With Jakub Voracek on his opposite wing, Laine will be a force to be reckoned with this season, especially on the power play.
"Yeah, (Patrik)’s a funny guy," said Jenner. "You know Patty and his shot but he does a lot of good things with the puck. I honestly think his playmaking could be underrated. Obviously, he’s got that elite shot, you know, put it in the top five or wherever in the league, and it’s so dangerous, it can beat a goalie from a lot of different places. We’re excited to have him. He’s had a great camp as well and I’m looking forward to getting the season going with him. I know he’s excited and coming off, you know, not the best year he wanted, and he’s really excited and rejuvenated to get going again."
After that, Jenner also had some praise for Voracek, who is returning to Columbus after many years away in Philadelphia. The Blue Jackets drafted Voracek in 2007, and he spent his first three years in the NHL with the club before being traded to the Flyers in 2011 for the infamous Jeff Carter.
"Yeah, (Voracek and Laine) clicked right away from day one of camp," said Jenner. "The way they both play, you can see it. They seem to find each other out there. Jake is definitely more of the playmaker and passer, and when he has the puck on his stick, you don’t know where it’s going. He’s very deceptive with it and he can find Patty or anyone for that matter for dangerous chances. He’s been a great addition for us, obviously on the ice but off the ice as well. His experience and the things he’s gone through in his career will definitely help us."
Finally, Jenner touched on his relationships with first-year head coach Brad Larsen and general manager Jarmo Kekalainen.
"It’s been great. Obviously, I’ve known Lars for a long time with the Columbus system and with him being the assistant coach here for a number of years. I think it’s been great, the change up has been fresh for everybody. As far as Jarmo goes, it’s the same for him. I’ve known him for a long time here in Columbus and we’ve been through those ups and downs together. It’s an exciting time for us with the changes that have happened. We’re looking forward to what we can become here."