The Columbus Blue Jackets 2022-23 season is officially underway following their opener against the Carolina Hurricanes. Now that the first milestone game is behind us, there’s still a lot to look forward to this season with many of them coming up fairly soon.
NHL Global Series vs the Avalanche (Nov. 4 & 5)
The Blue Jackets will play on the international stage while facing off against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Colorado Avalanche. This back-to-back set of games will be played in Tampere, Finland in a homecoming for Patrik Laine. Not only will he be playing in his hometown, but he also spent his pre-NHL career playing for Tappara in the Finnish Liiga. Assuming that he is fully healthy for this series, which will be cutting it close based on his 3-4 week timeline, it’ll certainly be one of the highlights of his career if he does end up playing. These games will also mark the first time Joonas Korpisalo has played an organized game in his home country since the 2014-15 season when he suited up for Ilves in the Liiga, which is also based out of Tampere.
John Tortorella’s Return to Columbus (Nov. 10)
John Tortorella was a star in Columbus. It’s not often that a coach is more popular than a majority of his players, but that was a reality during his six-year stint. Although his departure was inevitable, especially following his final season’s performance, it was a painful moment for many Blue Jackets fans. After taking a single season off, he has returned to the NHL and will be behind the bench for the divisional rival Philadelphia Flyers. This game on Nov. 10 will also be the first time Tortorella and former Blue Jacket Cam Atkinson are reunited at Nationwide Arena since both left the organization.
Johnny Gaudreau’s Return to Calgary (Jan. 23)
The biggest story of the offseason was certainly Johnny Gaudreau’s decision to leave the Calgary Flames and sign with the Blue Jackets. Now that he’s taken the ice with his new organization, the next big milestone game in his career will be the return to his old stomping ground. The Blue Jackets will head to the Scotiabank Saddledome on Jan. 23, where this will become a reality.
It’ll also mark the return of Erik Gudbranson, however since he only spent one season with the Flames compared to Gaudreau’s decade in the organization, it’s clear the main focus will be on the superstar winger.
Oliver Bjorkstrand’s Return to Nationwide Arena (March 3)
Oliver Bjorkstrand was a fixture of the Blue Jackets lineup for the last five seasons. Once Gaudreau and Gudbranson were signed, however, clearing up cap space for not only this season; but for the future as well, became management’s top priority. Unfortunately, he was the easiest way to achieve that goal. He’s also off to a hot start for the Seattle Kraken this season, with two points through his first two games. He’ll make his way back to Nationwide Arena toward the end of the season on March 3. Considering how popular the Danish forward was among fans, it’ll be a night that you won’t want to miss.
Blue Jackets’ Home Opener (Oct. 14)
The home opener always brings excitement, and it’ll take place tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning. They will certainly be an exciting opponent as it’ll be a big test for the new-look Blue Jackets following their collapse in Raleigh. This will also mark the first time Gaudreau and Gudbranson take to the ice of Nationwide Arena representing Columbus. Although Blue Jackets fans are almost always electric, there’s certainly a buzz around the city for this game as it promises to be one of the most exciting atmospheres of the season.
The beginning of a brand-new NHL season always brings a lot of exciting stories to the table. Over the summer, the Blue Jackets were one of the teams in the spotlight due to their major changes. Now it’s time to find out how these moves will work out while also seeing some familiar faces over the next few months. One thing is for sure, this season will be an entertaining one in Columbus.
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William Espy is a graduate of California State University, Stanislaus. He has been writing about hockey since 2016 on various platforms. He currently covers the Columbus Blue Jackets but had a previous stint covering the Calgary Flames.