The Columbus Blue Jackets open with their first game of the 2021 season being against the Arizona Coyotes in their home of the Nationwide Arena. Fans are very eager for the season opening of the Blue Jackets. This will be the 22nd season the team has completed for the NHL, which initially opened more than 100 years ago. Prior to the season open, the team conducted 3 trades: one to the Chicago Blackhawks, one to the Carolina Hurricanes and one to the Philadelphia Flyers. Fans are very excited to see what the season will bring for the Blue Jackets, a team that is something of young blood within the NHL and having only joined very recently, compared to teams like the Red Wings, who were part of the Original Six way back when the NHL opened in 1917. With only 6 playoff appearances by the team in their 22 seasons for the NHL and not a single Stanley Cup championship, many fans might wonder if this season could be a potential turnaround for the team.
After the COVID pandemic made most arenas deserted and many sports teams saw cancellations, this year’s past summer marked a return for most teams, and the Blue Jackets are no exception. In-arena host Mike Todd, who has been with Nationwide Arena for almost 20 years, said “It’s a blast, it’s amazing that I get to share it with all the fans, I’m pretty lucky that I get to be part of something so cool” of the experience of hosting for the arena and all the fans. The opening for the Blue Jackets season will undoubtedly be something special for many fans to remember - especially after what happened the prior year.
The COVID pandemic upended all areas of life - but perhaps one of the hardest-hit was professional sports. Professional leagues everywhere suspended their leagues not only to limit the spread of the virus in the audiences but also among the players. Lockers are statistically considered one of the dirtiest places in terms of germs, being hotbeds for things such as athlete’s foot and other viruses. So it only made sense for many leagues to suspend their activity until it was safer to truly get involved with professional sports again. Being that it was a massive industry before the pandemic - being valued globally at $471 billion in 2018, the pandemic created a massive void that was only partially filled by things like esports, virtual conferences and the like. Many were eagerly anticipating the return of sports by the time 2021 rolled around, and thanks to the vaccine, many arenas are at the very least partially filled.
When COVID recommendations were put in place by Ohio’s governor last March, two planned next games remained scheduled as anticipated, but by the time April rolled around the team was forced to close for the season. Additionally, controversy rocked the Blue Jackets when assistant coach Sylvain Lefebvre was released for not receiving a vaccination this past month. NHL protocols required a vaccine, and as such, the assistant coach was released for his decision. “While we are disappointed, we respect that this decision is a personal one for Sylvain and wish him well,” said club General Manager and Alternate Governor Jarmo Kekalainen. Thankfully, it seems as if no one is particularly drawn to these controversies, so it’s possible that the opening will go off without a hitch. Between the trades and everything else, there’s no doubt that the excitement for the opening season will far outweigh the struggles the Blue Jackets took with them in recent months.