The 2013-14 NHL season has come to an end for the Columbus Blue Jackets, and the campaign will be remembered as a historic one for the franchise. After waiting 13 years, the club came up with a postseason victory and gave the Pittsburgh Penguins everything they could handle in the Eastern Conference quarterfinal.
President of hockey operations John Davidson saw the Blue Jackets take another leap toward relevancy this year, and it seems that the goal of changing the culture of hockey in Ohio is on the right track.
Last month, NHL.com's Dan Rosen sat down with Davidson and asked him about what would be important to Columbus moving forward:
...whatever happens, as long as I see marked improvement, especially with the future of our club, then I know we're going in the right direction. And it's more than just what is on the ice here; it's also with what's on the ice around the world with our future players and how they're improving, where they're playing, what they're doing. We've seen a lot of upside. A lot of guys are having good seasons.
The former St. Louis Blues executive wasn't sure if the Blue Jackets were going to make the postseason at that point, but he was still evaluating the current team while keeping an eye on the future. That's what makes this campaign such a successful one for Columbus.
Young players like Cam Atkinson and Ryan Johansen settled in at the NHL level while veterans such as Jack Johnson and Artem Anisimov became part of the solution for the Blue Jackets.
This is a squad that is being built from the ground up—through the draft and through smart trades that make sense. After nearly making the playoffs in 2013, you can't look at this team and say that it didn't take a step forward this year.
All statistics appear courtesy of NHL.com unless otherwise noted and are accurate through the end of Columbus' 2013-14 season.