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Another Pillar to the Foundation

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

Another piece of the fabric has been sewn into place.

Derek Dorsett, who burst on to the NHL scene in 2008-09 sporting a pugnacious attitude and a willingness to do whatever is necessary to help his team win, will be part of the Blue Jackets for the foreseeable future. He signed a three-year contract extension with the club today, keeping him in Columbus through the 2014-15 season.

“After I signed, I was real excited and thought about all the things I’ve done to get to this point and where I’m at in my career,” Dorsett told “The other big thing I thought about was how much my family has helped me get to where I am and I couldn’t be happier.

“I owe a big thanks to them; they’ve pushed me to get to where I am and me signing this contract is a big thing for me and my family.”

The contract comes on the heels of his finest professional campaign to date, as Dorsett tallied a career-high 12 goals and led the NHL with 235 penalty minutes in 2011-12, becoming just the third player since 1996 to lead the league in that category while registering double-digit goals. He also assumed greater responsibility on the ice, playing in all situations and logging more minutes after Todd Richards took over as head coach on Jan. 9.

As the Blue Jackets enter an exciting new era, Dorsett could not be happier to be a part of it.

“There have been changes made in different areas and things like that,” Dorsett said. “The last month of the season, the guys started to play the way we think we can, and the way we need to play in order to be a competitive team. We’ve brought new faces in like Jack Johnson, who are competitive guys that want to win. They play hard in all areas of the rink, and they’re going to help us be a competitive team now and in the future."

Dorsett’s statistical improvement has been steady as he put up 14 and 17 points, respectively, in 2009-10 and 2010-11 before setting new career highs in the recently-completed season with 20. His evolution this season went beyond the scoresheet, however, as teammates saw him become a leader both on the ice and in the dressing room. In short, he became a player that can walk the walk.

The Blue Jackets showed a propensity for following Dorsett’s lead and feeding off his emotion. Veteran forward Vinny Prospal said Dorsett’s dependability makes him such a valuable player, because you know what you are going to get from him every single night.

“This year, he improved so much and showed he can be a different kind of player,” Prospal told “He has some finesse and finishing touch to his game. He was very, very reliable for us and brought so much effort. If I were a coach, I would say you wouldn’t have to worry about Dorse and how he’s going to play because it puts it all on the line every night.”

The 25-year-old arrived in Columbus as a 2006 seventh-round draft pick who played three seasons with the Western Hockey League’s Medicine Hat Tigers. The native of Kindersley, Saskatchewan was an instant fan favorite at Nationwide Arena, racking up 150 penalty minutes during his rookie season and playing a vital energy role during the team’s first-ever playoff appearance.

It was that season in which former coach Ken Hitchcock gave Dorsett his first real taste of the NHL. He was not on the ice to simply fight and foster energy; he was playing against opposing teams’ top players and worked his way into a checking-line role.

“The Blue Jackets have given me every opportunity to play and they’ve put a lot of trust in me,” Dorsett said. “Hitch was my first coach here in the NHL; and he gave me the chance to play and I ran with it. Every coach I’ve had here has given me more and more responsibility and I think I’ve responded well to it. It’s a credit toward the guys who have given me those chances, and I feel very fortunate to be in the position I’m in.”

Dorsett is ready to do his part for a club that won 16 of its final 31 games and under the direction of Richards, finished with a perfect 14-0-0 record when leading after two periods. The competitive and accountable culture that GM Scott Howson, senior advisor Craig Patrick and Richards are trying to build begins with players who feel the same way, Dorsett said. They have learned a lot about each other, too, and know that in order to raise the bar, it starts within the locker room.

“The group of guys that we’ve got is great. It will be exciting to see what happens here in the next month or so with the draft and see what other kind of things go on. We’ve got a group that’s ready to compete and win, and it’s exciting to see the way the organization is going.”

Prospal said he was impressed by the way Dorsett handled his leadership role at a young age. Though he briefly wore the alternate captain’s “A” in previous seasons (mostly intermittently), Dorsett sported the letter for a large portion of the year in 2011-12.

When other players see the way Dorsett plays and doing whatever he can to help the team, the results are infectious. And the attitude spreads like wildfire.

“I didn’t know he could actually be as good as he showed this year,” Prospal said. “When I had a chance to play against him - and it was only a few games because I was basically on the east coast for much of my career – he looked to me as an energy guy and somebody who goes out there and finishes checks and fights.

“But that’s why he has been so successful. He puts it all on the line for his team every single night.”

We'll leave you with a photo of Derek signing his new contract:

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