Turning The Page: Here Are The Other Storylines Happening In Blue Jackets Land

By Will Chase on September 19, 2023 at 1:45 pm
Columbus Blue Jackets forward Johnny Gaudreau speaks to the media at Nationwide Arena.
1st Ohio Battery

The last week has been interesting. To say the least.

In case you somehow missed it, Mike Babcock is out as head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Pascal Vincent is in, all before the regular season even starts. And oh by the way training camp begins on Wednesday.

The photo-sharing allegations made public by the Spittin’ Chiclets podcast and subsequent investigation by the NHLPA prompted a swift change in Blue Jackets headquarters.

Ahead of Monday’s press conference introducing Vincent as the team’s official head coach, president John Davidson and general manager Jarmo Kekalainen spoke to the media addressing the recent chain of events that led them to where we are now.

As embarrassing a light the organization finds themselves in over the last week, albeit all self-inflicted by hiring Babcock in the first place, the Vincent hire has a chance to be the breath of fresh air the organization desperately needs.

As the Babcock mess was aired out to the public, there were other storylines — positive storylines — regarding the Blue Jackets and the week that was.

Traverse City Prospects Tournament

The Traverse City Prospects Tournament got underway last Thursday with the Blue Jackets defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-3.

Across the first two games, Columbus was 7-for-9 on the power play.

Fantilli had all eyes on him and did not disappoint.

After notching two assists in Friday's 7-3 win over the Maple Leafs, Fantilli scored his only three goals of the tournament with the hat trick in the 10-7 win over the Red Wings on Saturday.

"all the advice I've gotten is just make sure you stay safe, play your best, and try and dominate."– Adam Fantilli

"I always want to play my best. I want to show my game, show that I can play (physically), show I can play fast, and be an offensive presence. But obviously, I'm going to be playing center like I want to be, and I know I have to take care of business defensively, so that's my plan."

The Kids

The Blue Jackets are going to be among the youngest teams in the NHL this season with a projected age of 25.5 years.

Training Camp

The major players will be hitting the ice for real soon as training camp gets underway on Wednesday.

The Blue Jackets pre-season slate begins on Sep. 24 with a home-and-home split squad session with the Pittsburgh Penguins. They'll play eight games in total with home and home contests against the St. Louis Blues, Buffalo Sabres, and Washington Capitals.

Columbus Blue Jackets
Date Opponent Time
Sun, Sep 24 @ Pittsburgh 1:00
Sun, Sep 24 Pittsburgh 7:00
Tue, Sep 26 @ St. Louis 8:00
Sat, Sep 30 @ Buffalo 3:00
Mon, Oct 2 St. Louis 7:00
Wed, Oct 4 Buffalo 7:00
Thu, Oct 5 Washington 7:00
Thu, Oct 7 @ Washington 7:00

The Pascal Vincent Era

The Babcock situation was weird and confusing and we'll probably hear more about that as the coming days unfold.

Maybe the actual offense wasn't ill-intentioned, though it certainly sounds like boundaries were crossed at one point, and Babcock comes off as an out-of-touch hockey coach — to put it mildly — that doesn’t relate at all with young players.

Davidson and Kekalainen admitted their mistake — what else can they say? — and they’re looking to turn the page. We all are.

We’re officially onto the Vincent era.

There are lots of questions for this new head coach and how the team will respond in light of all the recent news. But the good news is it sounds like the players are happy with Vincent as their new leader, such as Patrik Laine.

We won’t have to wait long for answers as the players get started with normal hockey activities in camp this week. Finally, we’ll finally have actual hockey to talk about.

Some curious thoughts to consider.

Will the Jackets still employ the tactics that Babcock was preaching, like having two players on each line more involved with the 200-foot game?

Will Vincent play Laine at center like he did last season while in charge for a few games?

Will the team be able to respond quickly to all of the changes and even use this as some sort of unifying rallying cry?

Buckle up. The fun is about to pick up.

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