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Blue Jackets Media Day

by Blue Jackets Staff / Columbus Blue Jackets

Can you feel it?

Scott Howson can.

"I think there is a lot of excitement, energy, enthusiasm and optimism around our team," Howson said at the club's annual media day on Monday. "You can feel it in the community and amongst our players.

"The hard part starts Friday, transferring that optimism and energy into wins. We’re excited to get started."

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The unofficial beginning to the season starts on Friday when players come in for their medical testing and physicals. Saturday's first on ice session starts at 9 a.m. — TRAINING CAMP NEWS, SCHEDULE AND ROSTER.

"This year, we've done all of our work in June and July," Arniel said of the coaching preparations. "Things are so much more relaxed for me and our staff, so we're looking forward to letting things play themselves out as camp starts on Friday."

Camp will begin without Radek Martinek, who lost a close friend in the tragic plane crash in Russia. Howson said Martinek should be able to get his physical on Saturday morning and probably be on the ice later that day.

Martinek is one of four veteran newcomers, along with defenseman James Wisniewski, Jeff Carter and Vinny Prospal. All bring great experience, including Stanley Cup Final experience from Prospal and Carter.

The additions have allowed Howson and Arniel to take a different approach with the younger players – buying time for them, Howson and Arniel said, but only if they need it.

"I think we're in the position where we don't have to force anyone into the lineup," Howson said. "This is a league where, when a young player is ready, he shows you and when he's ready, he plays.

"It will be up each one of those young players to leave no doubt in our minds this guy can help us and if that's the case then there will be a spot for them."

In addition to the veteran acquisitions and the possibility of two or three young players making an impact right away, Arniel is excited about the club's coaching additions – Ian Clark and Todd Richards.

"I think the other person who got added to (the group) is Todd Richards, on our coaching staff," Arniel said. "Todd's been a head coach and the two of us are going to tackle (the power play). Todd has experience from San Jose, Pittsburgh and Minnesota last year. He's a guy that will really help."

Clark was brought in to tutor Steve Mason and another new addition, first year NHLer Mark Dekanich.

"The biggest thing is these guys really get to know each other," Arniel said. "We have lots of new faces both off ice and on the ice. We’re going to have some different looks and starting to get ourselves jelling as one unit, playing the same style of hockey night in and night out.

"We're going down to Miami (Ohio) before training camp and we're doing some team bonding. You want to come out of camp ready to go and when the season starts guys are familiar with each other and style of play, linemates or d-partners, just being a caring group that is ready to take on a big challenge – that's 82 games in the Western Conference."

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