The first of the Columbus Blue Jackets 2007-8 previews from our Central Division bloggers roundtable
has been posted over at The Neutral Zone Trap
(head over there and come back, it's a very good read), and if I'm NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, I'm sending a bouquet to the fans in Columbus. They've been the victims of some horrible mismanagement over the last several years, and it's sad to say that the biggest move for the Blue Jackets this offseason has been the departure of GM Doug MacLean. In spite of all this, Columbus fans like Sarah support their team while taking a pretty realistic view of this season's prospects. In short, if they're still in contention for the playoffs after the All Star break, it will be a solid step forward for this franchise.
The one hopeful word I'd chip in on the Blue Jackets is the prospect of what Ken Hitchcock can bring to the table after having a whole summer to prepare. If they can make a couple savvy personnel changes during the season and some of that talent blossoms under Hitchcock's tutelage, that first playoff opportunity might actually be there. Remember, even though there's no reason to believe Columbus is playoff-worthy today, they have a chance to improve, and also benefit from a Philadelphia-style
blowup of one of the teams above them in the Western Conference.