By Chris Lulovics (@CLulovics)
Hello everyone and welcome to the first edition of The Puck Drops Here. Believe it or not the NHL season is quickly approaching and with that I will share with you all probably the best kept secret in Ohio.
Ohio does indeed have an NHL team. The Columbus Blue Jackets play their home games in Nationwide Arena in the heart of downtown Columbus in the beautiful Arena District. If you ever have the chance to take a trip down to Columbus I urge you to catch a game.
Nationwide Arena opened in 2000 on the site of the former Ohio Penitentiary. It holds 18,144 for hockey and can be expanded for other events such as basketball, concerts, and wrestling events. A horrible tragic event took place in 2002 when a young fan was struck by a puck that deflected over the glass killing her a couple days later. After that happened the NHL came up with the rule that all hockey rinks place a protective netting behind the goals in effort that nothing like that happens again. The area around the arena called the "arena district" has numerous restaurants and bars for before and after all events taking place. There are numerous hotels surrounding the arena and district within walking distance for weekend trips. Right across the street from the arena is Huntington Park home of the Columbus Clippers AAA team of the Cleveland Indians.
The Blue Jackets are coming off the 2013-2014 season on a high note. They finished 4th in the Metropolitan Division and clinched the 7th seed as a wild card team. In only their 2nd playoff season they found success against the powerful Pittsburgh Penguins. Even though they lost the series 4-2 they did manage to win their first ever playoff games and Nationwide Arena was the loudest out of any arena during the playoffs according to many national reporters and broadcasters. With the second youngest team in the NHL Columbus has a very bright future.
The off season for the Blue Jackets have seen them add Scott Hartnell via trade which saw R.J. Umberger go to the Philadelphia Flyers. Brandon Dubinsky signed a contract extension at 6 years worth $35.1 million keeping him in Columbus until the 2020-2021 season. The Jackets still have young phenom Ryan Johansen without a contract as his rookie entry level contract just expired. Johansen lead the Jackets in goals 33 and points 63 and was a point per game player in the playoffs. The good thing about Johansen is that the Jackets hold the rights to him as he is under a UFA and they have reported as saying they will match any offer sheet for him.
In the next couple weeks I will be giving you a preview of the upcoming season for the Blue Jackets along with the rest of the NHL as training camps open up and the season gets closer.