3 Things Blue Jackets Fans Should Be Thankful For in 2022-23

The Columbus Blue Jackets haven’t had much go right so far in the 2022-23 season. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have anything to be thankful for.

Morning Skate newsletter Click To Subscribe

The truth is that despite all the injures, despite their early record and despite their hope for this season fading quickly, fans of the Blue Jackets have a lot to celebrate. As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States, now is the time to give thanks to those things that shine brightly for this team.

In particular, there are three things within the Blue Jackets’ organization that fans should be thankful for everyday. Thinking of these things is the gentle reminder you need that things will eventually start to work out for them.

Latest News & Highlights

On the surface, it’s easy to see why the injury situation is so gloomy. Eight players are on injured reserve. Most of them will be there for multiple weeks. When the injuries happen as early as they do, it’s a gut punch. However let’s look at the flip side of this for the first thing fans should be thankful for.

The Work of the Training Staff

Imagine being Blue Jackets’ Head Athletic Trainer Mike Vogt for a moment. Think of what he and his team including assistant athletic trainers Nates Goto and Chris Strickland go through every time there’s a new injury situation to deal with.

“Everytime (Vogt) walks through the door, I’m terrified,” head coach Brad Larsen recently said. Who could blame him? If he saw Vogt coming, it usually meant another significant injury.

While that side of Vogt could be seen as terrifying, the other side of him is what Blue Jackets’ fans should be thankful for in the midst of these crazy injuries. Once the injuries happen, players work their way back.

Vogt and his staff deserve a tremendous amount of credit for not only dealing with the volume of injuries, but working extra hard and many long hours to ensure the players get back at or even before the established timeline.

“They are the hardest working people in hockey,” GM Jarmo Kekalainen said of their training staff. “What they do day in and day out, (working) late hours. They make it possible for the players to do their job.”

You Might Also Like

For a recent example, take Patrik Laine for instance. He was lost during the first regular season game in Carolina. His timeline was set at 3-4 weeks. There was some question if Laine would be available to play at the Global Series in Finland.

Not only did Laine play in Finland, he returned earlier than anticipated. A good training staff is one of the greatest assets a team can have. With Vogt working overtime, fans should be thankful for his dedication to a sometimes thankless job. As players start to return from the injured list, think of Vogt and his team. Their tireless work ethic and long hours are helping the Blue Jackets get players back as quickly as possible and ready for game action. All of their work is behind the scenes but their importance cannot be understated.

Johnny Gaudreau is a Columbus Blue Jacket (and Loving It)

Yes this really happened. It wasn’t a dream. The Blue Jackets have Johnny Gaudreau signed for six more seasons after this one. Although the lineup has been shuffled a lot, his production remains strong.

After the Blue Jackets’ 5-3 win over the Florida Panthers Sunday night where Gaudreau scored a goal and two assists, he has 18 points in 18 games leading the team in scoring. That should not come as a surprise. But doing it with all the injuries, that’s impressive.

Johnny Gaudreau Columbus Blue Jackets
Blue Jackets’ fans should be thankful that Johnny Gaudreau chose them. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)

Not only is Gaudreau enjoying success on the ice in the early going, he absolutely loves Columbus and has no regrets about his summer decision to sign with the Blue Jackets. See? Columbus actually has a lot to offer. It might not be for some folks. But there are more than enough out there that know what the city has to offer and love it.

With him in the fold, it’s only to get better. Fans should be thankful for him not only choosing the Blue Jackets, but also for his belief in what they might become.

Related: Gaurdeau Choosing the Blue Jackets is a Great Win for the NHL

Never have the Blue Jackets had this caliber of free agent freely choose them. If you need something positive to think about especially if this season gets long in a hurry, never forget that Gaudreau made this decision. He chose you. That’s worth celebrating.

Prospect Pipeline Has Never Been Stronger Than Now

Let’s end with one more major positive. Three first-round picks in 2021. Two more first rounders in 2022. Yegor Chinakhov was a first rounder in 2020. The Blue Jackets are flush with young talent in a way they have never experienced.

Then factor in who they might get in 2023 and you start to see the picture. The Blue Jackets are very talented. Their issue is their lack of experience. Time should fix that.

Now think of the players. Cole Sillinger. Kent Johnson. Corson Ceulemans. David Jiricek. Denton Mateychuk. Those are just the first rounders. We haven’t even gotten to the likes of Kirill Marchenko, Daniil Tarasov and many others this teams has on the way at some point.

Cole Sillinger Columbus Blue Jackets
Cole Sillinger and others have the Blue Jackets’ prospect pool in a good place. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Blue Jackets will experience a ton of growing pains now and in the future. But the one thing that cannot be denied is just how loaded the prospect pool really is. The narrative in five years could read something like this. Blue Jackets’ home-grown talent lead the way to yet another trip to the playoffs. When they could eventually boast six or more of their own first rounders in a lineup, the excitement is tangible. Fans should be thankful for the Blue Jackets’ commitment to building this up from the ground through the draft. It has never been in a better place in franchise history.

The Blue Jackets have one last game before Thanksgiving when they host the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday night. No matter the outcome of the game, take a moment to reflect on the good this team does have going for itself. It’s much more than you might think.

That alone should put a smile on your face knowing where the Blue Jackets hope to eventually go. That’s among the league’s elite.