At the golf course I belong to, I walked into the clubhouse Saturday afternoon to see Jason Chimera and Duvie Westcott had just finished playing. They were talking with the head pro about Chimera leaving for the World Championships, and about Duvie's health. I couldn't help but realize it was April 21, and already the players were fully into the golf season.
Year after year, Jackets fans are plagued with the fact that our team may have the best golfers in the NHL. Why? Obviously, we get a head start on most teams, and get a lot of practice.
The firing of Doug MacLean isn't really a surprise to any Columbus fan, but a signal to a new chapter for the Blue Jackets. Whoever is brought in must deliver success this year- our fanbase needs it, and the players need it. This off-season threw us a curveball with hiring a new GM, but when all is said and done, I think this Columbus team may be better off after all.
The team's immediate need is a #1 center- a capable playmaker and goal-scorer. Rick Nash and David Vyborny are a dynamic pair, but neither can play center. These two could easily lead the league in goals and points, but have been handicapped by the lack of a man in the middle (i.e. Fedorov, Mark Hartigan, Gilbert Brule, Dan Fritsche). All of these are decent players, but definitely NOT top-line centers; in Fedorov's case, not anymore.
The list includes quite a few potential candidates: Brad Richards (possibly via trade?), Chris Drury, Mike Comrie, Yannic Perreault, maybe even Scott Gomez. All would require high price tags (with the exception of Comrie), but attainable.
So what do the Blue Jackets do? Or, in better terms, what can they do? We'll find out, sooner rather than later.