THIS WEEK IN BLUE JACKETS HOCKEY: The Columbus Blue Jackets open their fifth season in the National Hockey League this week with three games. For the second time in team history, Columbus begins the season on the road, facing the Washington Capitals on Wednesday at 7 p.m. Two nights later, the Blue Jackets host defending Western Conference champion Calgary at Nationwide Arena. Columbus rounds out the week with a Sunday visit to Chicago.
THIS WEEK'S PRACTICE SCHEDULE: Blue Jackets practices typically last 60 to 90 minutes with media availability following. The schedule for October 3-9 (Tue.-Mon.) is as follows: Tue. - 10 a.m. (Dispatch Ice Haus)… Wed. - 11:30 a.m. (MCI Center, Washington)… Thu. - 11 a.m. (Dispatch Ice Haus)… Fri. - 10:30 a.m. (Nationwide Arena)… Sat. - 11 a.m. (Dispatch Ice Haus)… Sun. - TBA… Mon. - 11 a.m. (Dispatch Ice Haus). Practice times are local and subject to change. Only practices at the Dispatch Ice Haus are open to the public.
ROSTER REPORT: Oct. 3 - Signed C Gilbert Brule to a three-year contract… Assigned RW Joe Motzko, D Aaron Johnson and D Ole-Kristian Tollefsen to Syracuse (AHL)… Designated C Mark Hartigan for assignment to Syracuse (AHL)… Returned G Tomas Popperle to Sparta Praha (Czech Elite League)… Oct. 2 - Assigned LW Alexandre Picard, C Peter Sarno and D Jamie Pushor to Syracuse (AHL) and designated RW Bill Lindsay for assignment.
INJURY REPORT: LW Rick Nash (ankle sprain, Sept. 14 practice) is day-to-day… C Jan Hrdina (knee sprain, Sept. 22 vs. Detroit) is day-to-day... D Rostislav Klesla (stress fracture of right leg, diagnosed on Sept. 26) was placed on Injured Reserve on Oct. 3 and is expected to miss four to six weeks.
THIS WEEK'S OPPONENTS: Washington Capitals - 23-46-10-3, 59 pts. (Fifth Place - Southeast Div. in 2003-04)… Lone meeting this season… Jackets are 1-3-1-1 in the all-time series, including 0-1-1-0 on the road… Head Coach: Glen Hanlon… Players to Watch - LW Alexander Ovechkin (First overall pick in 2004 Entry Draft)… C Jeff Halpern (Led club with 19-27-46 in 2003-04)… G Olaf Kolzig (19-35-9, 2.89 GAA, .908 SV% in '03-04)… Calgary Flames - 42-30-7-3, 94 pts. (Third Place - Northwest Div.)… Stanley Cup finalist in 2004… First of four meetings this season… Jackets are 9-6-0-1 in the all-time series, including 6-1-0-1 at home… Head Coach: Darryl Sutter… Players to Watch - RW Jarome Iginla (Led club with 41-32-73 in '03-04; tied Rick Nash and Atlanta's Ilya Kovalchuk for the league lead in goals)… RW Tony Amonte (Former All-Star playing in his first season with Calgary)… G Miikka Kiprusoff (24-10-4, 1.69 GAA, .933 SV% in '03-04)… Chicago Blackhawks - 20-43-11-8, 59 pts. (Fifth Place - Central Div.)… First of eight meetings this season… Jackets are 8-11-2-0 in the all-time series, including 2-7-1-0 on the road… Head Coach: Trent Yawney… Players to Watch - D Adrian Aucoin (All-Star playing first season in Chicago)… C Tuomo Ruutu (Club's top goal scorer in '03-04 with 23)… G Nikolai Khabibulin (28-19-7, 2.33 GAA, .910 SV% with Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay in '03-04).
PRE-SEASON RECAP: The Blue Jackets posted a 3-6-0 mark in the preseason, including 3-2-0 at home and 0-4-0 on the road… Rookie C Gilbert Brule tied for the club in scoring with 2-3-5 in six games with LW Nikolai Zherdev, who collected 0-5-5 in five games… Rookie RW Jaroslav Balastik added 2-2-4 in seven games… RW Trevor Letowski (2-1-3 in five games) and rookie RW Dan Fritsche (2-0-2 in four games) were the other Jackets who scored at least two goals during the preseason.
COLUMBUS IN SEASON-OPENERS: Columbus has posted a 1-2-1 mark in its previous four season-openers. In their first road opener, the Blue Jackets dropped a 2-1 decision at Atlanta on Oct. 9, 2003. Columbus is 1-1-1 when beginning the season at Nationwide Arena, posting a 2-1 win over Chicago on Oct. 10, 2002 and earning a 3-3 tie vs. St. Louis on Oct. 4, 2001. The Jackets dropped a 5-3 decision to the Blackhawks in their inaugural game on Oct. 7, 2000. In home-openers, the club is 2-1-1, including a 5-0 win over the New York Rangers on Oct. 11, 2003.
NINE TO MAKE BLUE JACKETS DEBUT: Nine players are expected to make their Blue Jackets debuts this week, including C Jan Hrdina, D Francois Beauchemin, D Bryan Berard, D Adam Foote, D Radoslav Suchy and G Martin Prusek, as well as rookies C Gilbert Brule, RW Jaroslav Balastik and RW Steven Goertzen who will also be making their NHL debuts.
NEWS & NOTES: RW David Vyborny enters the season having played in a team-record 161 consecutive games. His streak began at St. Louis on Oct. 17, 2002… The season-opener at Washington will mark the 800th game of D Adam Foote's NHL career and the 400th for RW Trevor Letowski.
WATCH PARTY WEDNESDAY AT GAMEWORKS: The Blue Jackets, Bud Light, and The Brew 105.7 FM are teaming up to support the Blue Jackets in their season-opener at Washington with a Watch Party at the Arena Sports Bar and Grill inside GameWorks at Easton Town Center on Wednesday. The party starts at 6:30 p.m. and there will be Bud Light specials and prize giveaways, including tickets to Friday's home-opener.
PARTY TIME KICKS OFF OPENING NIGHT FESTIVITIES ON FRIDAY: Opening Night festivities on Friday begin with "Party Time" as Mix 97.1 will be hosting its Friday Night '80s Show live during a pre-game party for fans from 4 to 6:30 p.m. (weather permitting) on Battelle Plaza, located on the corner of Front Street and Nationwide Blvd. The event, hosted by Mix 97.1's Buzz Fitzgerald, will feature music, food and beverages, various prize giveaways that will include tickets to the game, chances to win autographed sticks used by the players, as well as one lucky fan having the chance to take a shot on goal during the first intermission for $97,100.
OPENING NIGHT FEATURES: All fans in attendance will receive a miniature replica of the Stanley Cup, courtesy of the NHL; a 2005-06 Blue Jackets magnetic schedule, courtesy of Giant Eagle; and 2,000 $1 Instant Tickets courtesy of the Ohio Lottery will be distributed to fans ages 18 and older. Fans will want to be in their seats by 6:45 p.m. for special pre-game entertainment that will include the presentation of the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy to Blue Jackets left wing Rick Nash in honor of his leading the NHL in goal scoring during the 2003-04 season. In addition, Dreamworks Nashville recording artist and ACM (Academy of Country Music) 2003 Top Vocal Group/Dup winner "Emerson Drive" will be singing the National Anthems.
HOCKEY CARES AUCTION TO BENEFIT HURRICANE VICTIMS: The NHL and NHL Players' Association will auction authentic, game-worn jerseys from each team's opening night game to benefit families devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Each player will wear a jersey with a special "Hockey Cares" patch on it during the first period of the game. The auction will then be held via the NHL's website, beginning at 12 p.m. ET on November 1 through 9 p.m. ET on November 10. Fans can log on to auctions.nhl.com to participate.
JACKETS ON THE RADIO: The Doug MacLean Show airs on WBNS Sports Radio 1460 The Fan on Wednesdays from 3 to 4 p.m. with the Blue Jackets President and General Manager and WBNS Radio's Bruce Hooley. Between the Pipes with the Blue Jackets can also be heard on the Blue Jackets Radio Network and flagship station Sports Radio 1460 the Fan on Sundays from 10 to 11 a.m. with hosts Mark Wyant and members of the Blue Jackets broadcast team.
TICKET INFORMATION: Individual game and group tickets for Blue Jackets games at Nationwide Arena are on sale now at the Nationwide Arena Ticket Office, the Chiller Easton, the Chiller Dublin and Chiller North, all Ticketmaster Ticket Centers, by phone at (614) 431-3600 or via the internet at www.BlueJackets.com and ticketmaster.com. For information on season tickets or group tickets, call (614) 246-PUCK or (800) NHL-COLS.