Three years ago, the Blue Jackets’ center position was the strength of the club: Ryan Johansen, Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Derek MacKenzie and Mark Letestu were the spine of the forwards.
Through trades and free agency (both coming and going), the Blue Jackets have transformed the position, so that it now reads: Brandon Dubinsky, Sam Gagner, Alexander Wennberg, William Karlsson and rookie Lukas Sedlak.
Rule of thumb in the NHL: good centers make good wingers look great; poor centers make good wingers look poor.
The Blue Jackets are 0-2 after losses to Boston and San Jose to open the season. Several of their highest-paid forwards are struggling and the lines aren’t making sense already.
I lived in Columbus when the Blue Jackets got started, and for a number of years afterward, and during that time, I can’t even comprehend how much ink and web space was taken up talking about how the Jackets didn’t have a true #1 center, that they had never had one and because of that the slotting of centers and playing time was always a matchup problem and that was why they continued to struggle.
Then, suddenly the Blue Jackets had an All-Star center. In fact, he won the MVP of the All-Star game didn’t he?
Of course, he then got run out of town and traded for a young defenseman, because he was “out of shape”, or some such thing when the team started last season horribly.
We also won’t mention that guy who played center in New York for years in the top 6, and now in Ottawa does the same who was part of that ill-fated Marian Gaborik trade.
Turn the calendar ahead a year and here we are, with another bad start to the season staring them in the face, and we’re back to talking about how not having a true number one muddles the line combinations and make it difficult for wingers to score, and on and on.
Maybe it’s time the Dispatch started to blame management for the teams problems?