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#CBJ20 Where Are They Now: Vinny Prospal

The energetic fan favorite reflects on his two years with Columbus

by Jeff Svoboda @JacketsInsider /

Where Are They Now: Prospal

Where Are They Now: Prospal

Former Blue Jacket Vinny Prospal joins Jackets Insider on a brand-new episode of Where Are They Now, presented by Huntington Bank.

  • 18:50 •

There are very few people who brought as much emotion, passion and fun to the game in a Blue Jackets sweater than Vinny Prospal.

And there are very few moments in team history where a player showed off those traits quite like Prospal did in a March 9, 2013, game against the Detroit Red Wings.

Yes, the famous point. With the Jackets up late in what would be a 3-0 win, the team's fourth in a row, Prospal was mixed up in a late kerfuffle with Justin Abdelkader, and as he skated away, the CBJ forward pointed at the scoreboard.

It earned Prospal a game misconduct and a talking to from head coach Todd Richards. But it also remains an enduring moment among the CBJ fan base as a time when the Jackets started to show some swagger.

Previous to that, Columbus had made just one playoff appearance in franchise history. That moment came amid a 19-5-3 finish to the season that ended up just short of a playoff appearance, but with franchise building blocks like Nick Foligno, Cam Atkinson, David Savard and Brandon Dubinsky earning bigger roles, things were about to turn around.

It would be oversimplification, of course, to refer to that moment as a turning point (pun intended), but it does remain something CBJ fans still talk about to this day. To Prospal, though, it's a memory that comes with a caveat.

"It was quite a bit of cockiness, and being a coach right now, I would not be happy with my player if he would be doing it," he said in the latest edition of Where Are They Now?, a 20th-anniversary interview series presented by Huntington Bank.

"On the other hand, at that moment, the emotions during the time, during the game when we were beating the Detroit Red Wings, it was just something -- I don't know where it came from, but I cannot take it back. I'm not necessarily saying that I'm very proud of that ... but at the time, the Blue Jackets, they were not taking us as seriously as they are maybe now, so it was just a stand."

Which feeds into one of the 16-year NHL veteran's other memories of his two years in Columbus -- just how much the fan base caught fire during that 2012-13 team's furious finish that ended just a tiebreaker short of a playoff appearance. Coming off the lockout and a trade of Rick Nash, Blue Jackets fans went bonkers over a team that started with few expectations and instead became a squad that set the stage for the success that was to come.

"One thing that stands out is what kind of great sports town Columbus really is," Propsal said. "The fans, they love a winner, right? And we were getting there. We were winning on a regular basis, and even though it was just a shortened season, we were competing for the playoffs. For the people, it was a long time waiting, so they were filling the arena. That's what really stands out to me."

Prospal was a big part of that team, leading the way at age 37 with 12 goals and 30 points in 48 games a year after a 16-39-55 line in his first season with Columbus. Those seasons turned out to be the last of 16 in the NHL, as the Czech forward finished with 255 goals and 765 points in 1,108 NHL games with the Jackets, Tampa Bay, Ottawa, Philadelphia, the New York Rangers, Florida and Anaheim.

Watch the video above for Prospal's entire interview, including his thoughts on playing for CBJ coach John Tortorella in Tampa Bay and New York, his post-playing transition into coaching, and how closely he still follows the Blue Jackets after those two memorable years.

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