Here is the season review for the 2007-08 Columbus Blue Jackets.
2007-2008 Record: 34-36-12, 80 points, fourth in Central, 13th in West.
Head Coach: Ken Hitchcock
General Manager: Scott Howson
Top Three Players: Rick Nash, Nikolai Zherdev, Pascal Leclaire
Team MVP: Pascal Leclaire, G, 54 GP, 24 W, 2.25 GAA, .919 SP. Leclaire was leading the league in wins, GAA, and SP earlier in the year, but then the Blue Jackets’ season went straight to hell, as did his win-loss record. His save percentage stayed up though, showing that he truly is a great goalie. He was not named a nominee for the Vezina Trophy, yet he showed that he is worthy of being a starting goalie on an NHL team.
Rookie of the Year: Gilbert Brule, F. He only had nine points in 61 games, but showed a lot of potential. You are looking at a team where Rick Nash could not score 70 points, so there was an obvious problem on offensive. On any other team, Brule would have had at least 30 points, and I think that he will only improve down the road.
Bust: Rick Nash, F. He only had 69 points this season, and struggled greatly on a less-than-talented Columbus squad. He really needs to work harder to lead his team, because if he cannot perform well, no one will.
Surprise: It is hard to pick a surprise player on this team, but I guess it would have to be Nikolai Zherdev. He showed great potential, scoring 61 points after his career high was 32 in 2006-2007. He will continue to improve, and perhaps be an 80-point per year player in the future.
Playoffs: Did not qualify.
Season Analysis: The Columbus Blue Jackets continue to underachieve since joining the NHL in the expansion of 2001. The Minnesota Wild have at least gotten off of the ground, while the Blue Jackets simply feed on the bottom of the tank.
Hiring Ken Hitchcock was a great move by Howson, but even a great coach like Hitch cannot help the lowly Jackets.
They really need to make some moves, and quickly. The fans have been supportive, but they will not continue to be if the Jackets can’t get into the playoffs.